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Saint Lucia has had its fair share of white-collar crime, parading success and achievement that escape the purview of the Inland Revenue Department and a broken justice system.
It is commonly known and told brazenly when it comes to doing business on the island, “It’s not what you know, but who you know”! And in a peculiarity departure in policy and process, weakening the fiber of society, the Allen Chastanet administration is the real enemy of the people.
Distressing nonetheless, graft and the web of corruption [to benefit individuals, advertising and media alliances, hotel, real estate, horse trading, healthcare and supermarket conglomerates, the drug trade and money laundering] is used as political currency, in a situation whereby the wolf is out in the open but the fox is hiding the interest of the client, over the interest of the country.
In essence, a political economy complicit with schemes deceiving the country as to who gets what, when and how.
This brings to the forefront matters of ethics, trust and the moral hazards that undermine the country while taxpayers pick up the tab. The irony about this is that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, meanwhile Chastenet’s 43 percent yellow Kool-Aid drinkers, similar to Donald Trump: “I love the poorly educated”.
Guy Joseph, the minister of economic development, housing, urban renewal, transport and civil aviation, previously advanced the geographically novel proposition that to get to Barbados by air one has to “fly over past Saint Lucia”.
The indictment of Donville Inniss, former minister of industry of Barbados, an indictment with one count of conspiracy to launder money and two counts of money laundering, under seal by a federal grand jury sitting in Brooklyn, New York, on March 15, should be a cause for concern for the Saint Lucia aspect of the investigation and perchance the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has the goods they have been looking for.
According to the indictment, Inniss allegedly laundered money through a “New York dental company”, somewhat ironic when, in the Saint Lucia parliament, opposition member Ernest Hilaire recently had to withdraw a “compliment” to Joseph: “I can see you teething, don’t worry; I can see your teeth smiling, don’t worry,” an apparent reference to a well known play on the word “teefing” [thieving] frequently used in regional calypsos.
Joseph figured prominently in allegations of corruption in relation to a US citizen, Antonio Assenza, and his local company Asphalt & Mining (St Lucia) Company Limited (A&M) that are or were targets of an airport project corruption investigation initiated by the previous government, which according to US sources has also been taken up by a number of federal agencies.
Joseph has denied any wrongdoing and said that he is not worried about an investigation into his reported involvement with alleged corruption.
Meanwhile, Chastanet said he will “investigate the investigation” initiated by the previous administration, but no results of this promised inquiry have since been released.
What is clear, however, the usual suspects have regrouped on the Hewanorra International Airport redevelopment project, regardless of creating a situation fraught with risk for all concerned, not just in Saint Lucia but also in the region and the US.
So, how much do voters care about political tricksters, “dark money” groups, not holding people accountable when faced with truth and facts?
On the other hand, it is no mystery that the prescription of the Chastanet-led administration is to insist on confusion and ridicule, while they steal the future and influence unconstitutional policies, practices and “alternative facts” to achieve their agenda.
National security minister, Hermangild Francis, recently stated in reference to a complaint that WPC 186, Lana Fontenelle, of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force acted in an ‘inappropriate’ manner in refusing to take a telephone call from him, citing, “Ministers of government carry a certain amount of weight and respect is due.”
In this very different political era and a vivid manifestation of our worse instincts, Chastanet says, “The truth is what you believe the truth to be,” and to borrow from Rudy Giuliani “arguing in the alternative”, it’s a rather difficult situation Saint Lucian politicians seem capable to adopt.
As to the quality of Francis weight, live weight or dead weight, the jury [The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force] is in session, while the gallery awaits the decision.
Meanwhile, the member of parliament for St Michael West Central Ian Gooding-Edghill argued in the parliament of Barbados: “The time has come in this part of the region for us to consider an overarching body, something the equivalent [of] an FBI, without reference to The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), which was set up by regional governments back in July 2006 to manage CARICOM’s action agenda on crime and security.”
The Inniss money-laundering scandal in Barbados and the web of corruption associated with the Chastanet administration in Saint Lucia not only continue to tarnish investments and the business climate in the Caribbean region but also violate true governance, values and institutions without regard for consequences.
Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant, a long-standing senior correspondent and a contributing columnist to Caribbean News Now. His areas of focus include political, economic and global security developments, and on the latest news and opinion. His philanthropic interests include advocating for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality. He contributes to special programming on Radio Free Iyanola, RFI 102.1FM and NewsNow Global analysis. He can be reached at [email protected]