Wednesday 30 September, 2020

Hilaire: Dirty, nasty political witch hunt is based on lies

Parliamentary Representative for Castries South Ernest Hilaire spoke at an SLP press conference earlier today on the matter of the ownership of a vehicle that has been heating up recently.

"In view of what I see as a co-ordinated UWP campaign to smear my name, I believe I must set the record straight. The allegation that I am in possession of ‘a stolen Government vehicle’ is utter rubbish. So too is the allegation by perhaps one of the politicians with the worse reputation, Guy Joseph, who stated in Parliament that an investigation into my vehicle started in 2015. These allegations reflect viciousness, vindictiveness and callousness of a failing and corrupt Government.

I was able to view the documents in possession of Government during a meeting with the Customs and Excise Department. I have since requested full disclosure of these documents but they have refused to co-operate. In time, the Customs Department will be required, as the law commands, to make frank and full disclosure of all documents in their possession.

There is no question that Guy Mayers deliberately and maliciously misled the Cabinet Secretary to believe that a vehicle was purchased by the High Commission and that said vehicle is now in my possession. The vehicle was purchased by me. I have irrefutable evidence that the monies were transferred from my bank account for payment to the car manufacturer/dealer. Not a cent, red or yellow, of public monies was used to purchase the vehicle, unlike the corrupt use of taxpayers, Town Councils, and Taiwanese monies by the UWP for their personal use.

On October 18, 2017, the Cabinet Secretary wrote to the Director of Finance. The Cabinet Secretary stated that the alleged unauthorised disposal of a state asset is a serious matter which requires appropriate investigation. He never asked whether there is proof of purchase of the vehicle by the High Commission or the Government of Saint Lucia. Curiously, the Cabinet Secretary did not choose to write to the Permanent Secretary, External Affairs, who is the chief accounting officer of that ministry to ascertain if there is any validity to the allegations.

The Director of Finance memo of November 29 2017 makes interesting reading. Firstly, she says that the Department has reviewed the attachments and has identified what appears to be an asset belonging to the state now being owned and in the possession of Dr. Ernest Hilaire.

Importantly, the Director of Finance went on to say and I ask you to reflect on this, that the Department of Finance has NO record of this asset having been purchased by the state nor being disposed of by the Department of Finance. By that the Director means that they have not found as a fact that I used any public or state funds to purchase the vehicle. Add to these extraordinary statements and facts, that all Diplomatic Missions are required to submit accounts to the Ministry of Finance, and are subject to audit by the Director of Audit.

Then and notwithstanding her contradictory statements and positions, the Director of Finance said although asked by the Cabinet Secretary to investigate the unauthorised disposal of government property, she asks for further investigation and requisite follow up action. In other words, the Director of Finance was washing her hand of this allegation because, as she said, the Department of Finance has NO record of this asset having been purchased by the state nor being disposed of by the Department of Finance. In other words Government’s records establish that the vehicle is not owned by the state, and therefore it is actually owned and in possession of Dr. Hilaire.

What is truly baffling is that the documents Guy Mayers provided showed that the ORIGINAL supplier’s quotation was not in the name of the High Commission, he also provided documents which showed that the payment was not made by the High Commission, and that the submitted application to purchase a duty-free vehicle was not in the name of the High Commission. In the very circumstances presented by Mayers alone, how can it be said by any sane human being that the vehicle belongs to the State?

How can the vehicle be a gift to Saint Lucia when documents show all the arrangements that were made to purchase?

Interestingly, the officer in the High Commission who handled all the transactions on my behalf when I returned to Saint Lucia at the end of my contract has written to Comptroller of Customs to explain that he undertook all the transactions on my behalf.

Clearly Mr Guy Mayers is not interested in the truth but is willing to use his office and be part of a political witch hunt and vindictive crusade against me. So if UWP want to act on their own lies then come here now and arrest me for theft and take the vehicle. This will never happen and can NEVER happen because those that say this, know it is a malicious lie. I have the ultimate proof, my bank statements that I provided the money to purchase the vehicle.

There is no evidence that any investigation was started in 2015. Documents show that the vehicle arrived in Saint Lucia at the END of December 2015 and the requests for an investigation started in 2017. Guy Joseph in his usual dishonest manner lied again to the Parliament and People of Saint Lucia.

Saint Lucians this is frightening, this is dangerous. This is precisely the dirty nasty politics practiced by Cambridge Analytica and SCL. This time the UWP wants to inject the naked abuse of State power and malicious persecution at its worse!"

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