Castries, Saint Lucia, September 23:– And the plot thickens…
A Caribbean company named Radical Investments is suing another named Good Vibrations Entertainment, in a US court, over non-delivery of COVID vaccines paid-for by at least one of three Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments, to a company that was in no position to purchase or deliver the goods.
Radical Investments, said to be registered in Saint Lucia but also with a corporate presence in the UK, is suing Barbados-based Good Vibrations Entertainment over the whereabouts of over US $12 million in a botched-deal in which The Bahamas, Barbados and Saint Lucia are named.
The case is under way and according to a report in News Americas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Thursday (September 23):
“A Florida judge has ordered a St. Lucia-registered, Barbados-based company to present proof detailing the citizenship of each individual they are suing or face a dismissal of its lawsuit.”
According to the report, “The case, as detailed by the Barbados Today online newspaper, relates to the purchase of AstraZeneca vaccines by Radical Investments, owned by [Barbados-based] developer Mark Maloney, as part of a regional bulk-purchasing arrangement between the Barbados, St Lucia and Bahamas governments.
“Radical Investments is suing Good Vibrations Entertainment LLC, the purported supplier of the vaccines and a number of other businesses and individuals involved in the attempt to purchase the vaccines.
“The order for the jabs was never fulfilled leaving the plaintiff millions of dollars out-of-pocket.”
The report continued, “Radical Investments Ltd.’s court claim is that it was deceived and lured into an elaborate scam to advance the sum of US $10.2 million for one million non-existent doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“The claim alleges that on or around late March or early April, 2021, Maloney, the principal of Radical Investments, was introduced by Cheryl Chamley, a Trinidadian national who resides in the United States and works in the PPE sector, to the principal of Good Vibrations Alex Lee Moore.
But during hearings Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge, Aileen M. Cannon, ruled that “before the Court may assess whether there is diversity jurisdiction, Plaintiff must submit allegations or proof detailing the citizenship of each of the individual members of Defendants Good Vibrations Entertainment, LLC, Prestige Pegasus, LLC, and RDS Cargo Group DWC, LLC.”
The judge wrote in Fort Pierce: “The citizenship of one member may destroy federal diversity jurisdiction if complete diversity of citizenship does not exist between the defendant and all of the members of a plaintiff limited liability company.”
The plaintiff has until (Friday) September 24th to file an amended complaint clarifying the citizenship of each individual member of the defendant Limited Liability companies specified, or face a dismissal of the case.
On July 1, 2021 – ahead of then upcoming General Elections — the Government of Saint Lucia issued a statement saying that along with The Bahamas and Barbados, it initiated a bulk purchase of Astra Zeneca vaccines, through Radical Investments.
According to that statement: “Saint Lucia’s contribution towards this arrangement was seven million three hundred and thirty-five thousand, six hundred and thirty Eastern Caribbean dollars and fifty-six cents (EC$7,335,630.56) to secure one hundred thousand (100,000) vials of the vaccine.
“The Government of Saint Lucia, through the Ministry of Health and Wellness, approved this purchase through Radical Investments Limited, following verifications by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health and Wellness to ensure the capacity of the supplier.”
“At the time of the transaction, there was much uncertainty with regard to the supply of COVID-19 vaccines around the world and the Government was actively seeking reliable sources for the vaccine. The partnership with two other CARICOM countries provided the best avenue to do so.”
On Wednesday, former PM Allen Chastanet confirmed to Barbados Today that his government worked through Radical.
But now the bubble has burst and the matter is in court, it is still uncertain as to whether all of Saint Lucia’s EC$7.3 million is included in the US $10.2 million being sought by Radical from Good Vibrations through the Florida courts.
The issue of certifying the citizenship of the principal players involved is a key one, as the judge pointed out that should the plaintiff fail to comply by Friday, the entire case can be dismissed.
Former Prime Minister Chastanet, while being quoted in the Barbados and Florida press about Saint Lucia’s involvement, has been absolutely silent on the matter locally.
The UWP Leader returned home earlier this week after an extended post-election holiday abroad and on Wednesday (September 22) his party issued a lengthy statement quoting him on the current administration’s handling of COVID-related matters, but there was not-a-word about the Radical Investments vaccination money scandal currently playing-out in the US courts.
Saint Lucia was to have secured 100,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca and Barbados 300,000 of the million doses, but with no confirmation the remaining 700,000 would all have gone to The Bahamas.
Nassau has been quiet on the issue to date, leaving it uncertain as to whether The Bahamas made any advanced payment and has any money in this COVID fire.
But the Barbados government – through Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw – has assured Barbadians that not one cent was lost by the Barbados Treasury, as the arrangement with the intended providers was that the Barbados government would only pay after the vaccines landed.
In Saint Lucia’s case, however, despite the then Allen Chastanet Government’s claim that ‘due diligence’ had been followed, the $7.3 million was authorized by Direct Purchase (no competitive bidding) by the then Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr Chastanet.
Interestingly, none of the main players and private sector groups involved are known to have any experience providing health services: Mark Maloney is a developer and builder, Good Vibrations is an entertainment company – and Radical Investments isn’t known to have provided any previous health services to Saint Lucia before the botched deal.
Meanwhile, the Florida hearing continues Friday…