Why is gov­ern­ment si­lent on Lam­birds?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Toni Ni­cholas

It will come as no sur­prise to res­i­dent Saint Lu­cians that, de­spite the bad pub­lic­ity the Lam­birds Af­fair has re­ceived lo­cally and on the In­ter­net, not to say the so­cial me­dia commentaries, the man most cit­i­zens would like to hear from re­mains in­vis­i­ble and mute on the is­sue.

Sad to say, the demon­strated contempt is typ­i­cal of our ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter who has more than once stated on TV that cer­tain mat­ters are to be han­dled by un­der­lings at his min­istry.

On Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 27, six in­di­vid­u­als as­so­ci­ated with Lam­birds Academy, with lo­ca­tions in Gros Islet and Rod­ney Bay, were held for ques­tion­ing by po­lice. Four (all In­dian na­tion­als) of the six were later charged with hu­man traf­fick­ing.

It is al­leged that the four men lured sev­eral stu­dents here from In­dia and Nepal with false prom­ises of jobs-jobs-jobs while they un­der­took stud­ies, as well as as­sur­ances of visas and a gate­way to Europe. Later, the po­lice charged one of the four with money laun­der­ing. All the ac­cused deny the charges.

Two of the six orig­i­nally held for ques­tion­ing are Saint Lu­cians, one with al­leged close con­nec­tions with the gov­ern­ment and the lo­cal ju­di­ciary via her for­mer hus­band. The par­tic­u­lar in­di­vid­ual al­legedly fa­cil­i­tated the tran­si­tion of the stu­dents from their points of ori­gin.

On Wed­nes­day March 11 the ac­cused made an­other ap­pear­ance at the Gros Islet mag­is­trate’s dis­trict court. They were ex­pected to en­ter into case man­age­ment. It was then that Iftekhar Shams of Bonne Terre, the direc­tor of Lam­birds Academy and one of the men charged, broke his si­lence and spoke to the press.

“We are to­tally in­no­cent,” Shams said be­fore en­ter­ing the court­room. “I came here as an in­vestor. In­vest Saint Lu­cia in­vited me, got me my visa and helped me to get all the li­censes. Now I do not know what to say.”

Shams added: “The prime min­is­ter, deputy prime min­is­ter, min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion, min­is­ter of com­merce, they help me to get all the li­censes. We are a le­git­i­mate academy.”

On the money-laun­der­ing sub­ject he told re­porters that the sum in ques­tion was sim­ply be­ing trans­ferred to one of the Lam­birds academies in the United States. He also al­leges that the school would have still been op­er­a­tional here, had it not been for the po­lice bar­ring stu­dents from en­ter­ing the build­ing.

As ear­lier noted, ef­forts to reach the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and In­vest Saint Lu­cia for com­ment have been fu­tile.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Robert Lewis:

why is he si­lent on Lam­birds?

Dr. Iftekhar Shams, head of Lam­birds Academy says the school was en­dorsed by Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter

Robert Lewis.

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