St Vincent PM denies knowledge of million-dollar withdrawal

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By Caribbean News Now contributor

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — Prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, in seeking to clarify statements made by opposition leader, Arnhim Eustace, about the country’s Building and Loan Association, has denied any knowledge of a million dollar withdrawal from the institution by his mother.

Speaking at a media conference, Eustace has questioned the decision of the three-month old Financial Services Authority (FSA) to take over management and control of the Building and Loan Association, warning it could lead to further loss of investor confidence in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

He also disclosed that Gonsalves’ mother, Theresa Francis, withdrew over one million EC dollars (US$370,000) from the Building and Loan Association late last year, even as Gonsalves was encouraging citizens not to withdraw their funds from the institution.

The opposition leader said that he has been reliably informed that the funds in the name of Francis were withdrawn during the period when Gonsalves supervised the institution.

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Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves

In his response, Gonsalves said that he had not been aware of this development.

He said that the Association has been experiencing financial difficulties since 2009 as a result of delinquent loans.

The prime minister said that, despite these problems, he had not encouraged anyone to withdraw shares from the Building and Loan Association.

Gonsalves said that his government is committed to working with the Building and Loan Association and the Financial Services Authority to ensure the continued strengthening of the Association.

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