St Vincent opposition leader threatens PM with lawsuit

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Wednesday February 27, 2013 – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace says he has instructed his lawyers to demand an apology from Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves over statements he made on a radio programme earlier this month.

Eustace, speaking on radio here, said that his attorneys were also instructed to file a law suit seeking damages if Prime Minister Gonsalves, an attorney, refuses to apologise.

The announcement by Eustace is the latest salvo in the ongoing controversy regarding allegations of bribery involving foreign investor Dave Ames.

Eustace, who announced the potential lawsuit on the same day that Prime Minister Gonsalves received EC$206,000 (One Ec Dollar = US$0.37 cents) from a defamation case he won against a local radio station, said that the prime minister in his February 17 broadcast defamed him while telling Vincentians about an encounter with two journalists from the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) on board an aircraft in Barbados.

“I have instructed my lawyers to write to the Prime Minister in relation to him and the defamation of my character in his statement on Sunday, the 17th February. They will write to him demanding an apology, and a certain sum of money. If that is not done within a specified period of time, then further action will be taken by me against the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. I want to make that absolutely clear,” Eustace said.

“Very often, I don’t pay much attention to these things, but this time I am not letting it pass. All sorts of things are being said about people. But this time, the Prime Minister must answer — and answer in a court of law — if he does not agree to the terms sent to him in a letter by my lawyers,” Eustace added.

Gonsalves had said that the two BBC journalists accosted him on the aircraft when they asked him about an allegation that Ames had gone to the Office of the Prime Minister with a bag of money and left without it.

Both Gonsalves and Ames have in separate statement denied the allegation, which Eustace said he learnt of during an interview with the BBC.

Eustace said that he did not comment on the allegation but said that if it is proven to be true, Gonsalves would have to demit office.

Eustace said that when the BBC’s “Panorama” programme about Harlequin Property, of which Ames is chairman, is aired, “everyone will have a better understanding of what that situation is about”.

The Gonsalves government granted citizenship to Ames because of his investments here.

Ames’ company is reportedly being investigated in the United Kingdom amidst allegation that it is a Ponzi scheme, an allegation that a spokesperson for the company has denied.

The Financial Services Authority in the United Kingdom has also issued an alert about Harlequin and its operations and Eustace said St. Vincent and the Grenadines is receiving a lot of bad coverage in the international press

“We are in the news all over the world for the wrong reasons. And it is something we don’t have any control over now, given the widespread interest and comments being made on this whole issue with the resort and other matters related to that,” he said. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)