WHAT DOES EMMA’S ISL CEO KNOW THAT THE PEOPLE DON’T KNOW?
In environments more open, not to say respectful of the people’s intelligence and their constitutional right to know, an incident such as the recent arrest of Dr. Iftekar Shams on charges including human trafficking, money laundering and fraud would’ve warranted the immediate convening of a press conference by the licensing authority.
But this is Saint Lucia— the Rock of Sages, where investigations are forever underway, never concluded. Here elected officials daily demonstrate as little concern for citizens’ opinions as for the nation’s devastating fiscal deficit.
This is also the country that handed responsibility for its dying private sector’s salvation to Emma Hippolyte, as famous for her advertised religiosity as for her chameleonic attitudes toward those imported madein-hell children’s toys known as VLTs (Video Lottery Terminals.)
Instead of the press conference that right-thinking Saint Lucians had anticipated in the wake of the precedential Shams arrest, what they got was a fulminating former saint taking the police to task for daring to a serve a court order on her ministry when staffers refused to hand over Shamsrelated evidence.
Hippolyte had also taken the opportunity, while making a most obvious statement before parliament that left no room for touchy questions, to say no one was to blame for the royal cock-up now known as “Lambirdsgate.”
By Hippolyte’s account before parliament, on March 30 “the Cabinet of Ministers took a decision to conduct an independent enquiry on the matter—in due course.” An “independent enquiry” involving Cabinet officials, at least one of whom played a major role in what had led to the Lambirds Academy scandal and charges of human trafficking.
The MP also acknowledged that at least one officer at Invest Saint Lucia had been interviewed by police investigators. And while Hippolyte told parliament her statement was “intended only to bring clarity and not to prejudice or compromise police investigations and court cases,” she claimed to have acted “within the authority of the law, and at all times on the advice of the technical staff and public officials.”
Equally without guilt, she implied, were “officials from Invest Staint Lucia and the various ministries” who could only “make recommendations based on the information at hand, none of which at any time gave any valid and compelling legal reason for denying Lambirds Academy the licenses it required to operate in Saint Lucia.”
The torch of time has cast new light on Hippolyte’s somewhat shadowy House statement and exposed much of what the MP had said as convenient, at best. And now, perhaps taking his cue from his boss, McHale Andrew peeped out this week from his Invest Saint Lucia hideaway. At any rate, the public heard from him via a lengthy press release that obviously was designed to clear away leftover disfiguring shadows hanging over his office.
It started this way: “Over the last few weeks Invest Saint Lucia has listened with concern to the plethora of commentary and conjecture pertaining to the Lambirds Academy affair. Mindful of the potential damage to the investor perception of our island, Invest Saint Lucia wishes to clarify its role in this rather unfortunate issue.”
The release proceeds to release stale news concerning the arrests of certain individuals on charges including human trafficking and then advises readers “not to be too quick to draw invalid references and to accept, without more, baseless accusations and false conclusions.”
As if his were the office of the DPP, the Invest Saint Lucia CEO reminded the nation that “the charges against the agents of Lambirds Academy are still allegations to be decided by a jury” blah, blah, blah. He seems to have forgotten his office may have to give evidence in court regarding those charged with human trafficking and other crimes.
He might’ve told Saint Lucians what his due diligence uncovered about the accused who, by official account, received preferential treatment by the commerce ministry.
He noted instead that his office had not specifically invited Lambirds Academy to Saint Lucia but that the academy had “accepted a general invitation to attend the inaugural Saint Lucia Investment Forum in May 2014.”
A specious statement, to say the least, that will be closely examined in our next issue, along with other aspects of McHale Andrew’s very late in the day disturbing public declarations!
ISL’s McHale Andrew comes out of the cold!
Invest Saint Lucia CEO McHale Andrew warns against rushing
to judgment in human trafficking case.