Minister for Economic Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transport and Civil Aviation, Guy Joseph on Thursday night (April 5) presented documents in Parliament to prove that the previous St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) government had paid an American forensic accountant $3 million of taxpayers’ money to investigate him.
During his contribution to the debate on the 2018/2019 [Budget] Appropriation Bill which was eventually passed, Joseph suggested that the SLP political leader Philip J. Pierre, and Vieux Fort South MP and former prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony would be lying if they denied knowledge of the investigation.
“You want me to talk about SCL, I’ll talk about Robert Lindquist. I have every receipt that you paid the $3 million. Even though it was deleted from the SmartStream system, and it could only have been deleted from the SmartStream system by a senior, a high person in authority, but I had time get it before it was deleted; $3 million paid to investigate me,” Joseph said.
He continued: “I have the copy of every phone call that I made, every email that I sent is here, and the member for Vieux South in his presentation was about to say the report said that, but he changed his words halfway.
“… I am calling on the opposition who was in government at the time, to come and show the people of St. Lucia where you spent $3 million to investigate me and came to say that that is not true. And I am so happy the leader of the opposition and member for Castries East,” as Joseph said this, Pierre walked into the sitting of the House. “He has excellent timing, he walk in at the right time,” Joseph added.
He continued: “At the previous sitting of the House, when I was making my presentation he stood up Mr. Speaker, and you remember I allowed him to speak. I said let him speak. You know what he said? He didn’t know nothing about investigation.
“Mr. speaker, I have in my hand a Cabinet Conclusion — and maybe we should cite the member for misleading the House — a Cabinet Conclusion dated 2nd of July 2012. The following Cabinet Conclusion was submitted for your consideration, Cabinet confirmed the appointment of Mr. Robert Lindquist for the purpose of conducting a forensic investigation on behalf of the government of St. Lucia. The attorney general, after consultation with the prime minister, will act on behalf of the government of St. Lucia.”
‘MISLEADING THE HOUSE’
As Joseph was closing those sentences, Pierre rose to his feet and told the Speaker of the House that Joseph was “misleading the House”.
However, the Speaker objected to Pierre’s claim. Joseph then resumed his presentation.
He went on to say that attendees at the July 2, 2012 Cabinet Conclusion meeting to introduce the investigation against Joseph included Dr. Anthony and Pierre.
He added that at another Cabinet Conclusion, dated July 9, 2012, to confirm the proposed investigation, attendees again included Dr. Anthony and Pierre.
Joseph refrained from naming the other persons who were at the meeting. “I don’t need to go down the rest. That is the point I want to make,” he said.
He continued: “So when members come to this honurable House and tell you they don’t know this and they don’t know that, I know that’s not true Mr. Speaker, I know that’s not true.
“But you see Mr. Speaker they on a witch hunt. And I have in my hand there the document of the fraud case that was filed against Allen Chastanet and Kenneth Cazaubon on the Soufriere, the lighting of the playing field when we have the opening. That is how this Labour Party operate. They go after you to try and destroy you.”
ATTACKS ON HIS WIFE
Joseph then turned the attention to his wife, J. Wendy Bailey-Joseph, whom he said has been under constant attacks by Opposition members and supporters.
“I have a strong wife Mr. Speaker. And I must express profound thanks and appreciation to her for all that she b… because if anybody knows me, she is the one who knows me.
“You see they have attacked her, they have attacked her integrity, they have said all kinds of things about her.”
The minister said his wife is a qualified professional.
“I heard the member for Vieux Fort North speak about special education and what they do. I have in my hand here a book, ‘Strategies for Teaching Learners with Special Needs’. This is a textbook that is used in universities in the US and you know who’s the co-author of this book? Jenevie Wendy Bailey, and that’s about the third.”
“So when people try to marginalise you, because she doesn’t make a big fuss and she does not make a big show. So when they cannot get me, they try and go after people that pertains to me..,” Joseph alleged.
Referring to the Cabinet Conclusion documents that he claimed are proof of the investigations against him, Joseph remarked: “That is the extent to which the Labour Party will go but Mr. Speaker my name will be cleared one of these days because this report (Cabinet Conclusion) must make it here.”
He then took a shot at Dr. Anthony again. He accused the former SLP leader of once being a supporter of a DSH project, which he apparently speaks against now.
Holding up a copy of the St. Lucia Star newspaper and reading from it, Joseph said. “I want the member for Vieux Fort South to tell me ‘the proposed integrated resort development’ on the back page of the Star newspaper with his signature at the bottom there. If that is not so then I expect you to file a lawsuit against the Star, if this is not an authentic document. So the same DSH you want to give all the blows… and you signed a presentation?… If I make a presentation to you, my signature will be on the presentation so you do that make the presentation to DSH?”
Pointing to another headline on the Star newspaper, with a SLP member’s photo on it, Joseph read: “Now it says ‘Senator speaks out, those lawmakers who become lawbreakers should be jailed’, and I agree with that.”
FINANCIAL PROBE INTO JOSEPH
Joseph has vowed to make the contents of a United States (U.S.) investigative report on his alleged dealings with Asphalt and Mining (A&M) public as soon it is completed.
The U.S., according to Dr. Anthony, is conducting a probe into “certain financial transactions by the business.”
Lindquist is conducting that investigation.
Joseph has been constantly accused of nepotism and abuse of public office by the SLP in relation to his stint as minister of communications and works minister in the United Workers Party’s (UWP) previous term in office.
Fingers have been pointed at him for allegedly influencing the award of infrastructural project contracts in excess of $2.9 million to his brothers.
According to Dr. Anthony at an SLP public meeting earlier this year, the SLP had written to the United States to allow the forensic accountant to investigate “certain accounts in other countries outside of our region”.
Joseph, in response, had said that he awaits the contents of the investigation and will gladly reveal all its findings to the public because he is innocent.
“…I intend to make this document available on the internet. I intend to make it available in the public, to the public. It should be in the libraries. It should be everywhere so that people can read for themselves,” he said adding, “I want every investigation to come to its end. Because I know I have absolutely nothing to fear or to worry about.”
In reference to an interim report on the matter, Joseph had said he deliberately “baited” the SLP during a parliament sitting to see how they would have reacted.
“I deliberately did not give the surname in parliament because I threw out a bait to see how the Labour Party would have reacted. And exactly as I expected the Leader of the Opposition Hon. Phillip J Pierre said, ‘the interim report you need to put it out and say what’s on it’ and I spoke across the table to him and I told him, ‘so you know there’s an interim report but you never spoke about it’.”
Joseph was adamant that he would reveal “every single thing that was done in relation to me, every record of my phone calls, every record of my emails and every single thing that they could have traced back to me” when the investigations are complete.
“…I intend to open every page that is available,” he had said.