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Monday, May 30, 2011

Corruption in St. Lucia: The International Context

"Why do dishonourable men take fraudulent risks to get rich?"

I want to juxtapose and compare what happens in St. Lucia with events in the USA involving Madoff and Stanford; in Egypt involving the Mubarak family; in Russia involving Khodorkovsky; and in the Caribbean involving James Robertson of Jamaica (ex-Mining Minister) and Jack Warner (of FIFA) of Trinidad.

I am sure the comparison will be particularly instructive (and of immense interest) to Hon Rufus Bousquet partly because of his position as St. Lucia’s Foreign Affairs Minister – a position that should be “above board”; and partly because of a constituency-wide consensus that his “constituency management regime” is perceived to wanting and fraudulent.

The cases against Madoff and company do not only provide us with global insights into how the world deals with fraud committed by public figures, but they also provide us with recent international precedents for dealing with it.

On June 29, 2009, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison with restitution of $170 billion. He defrauded 4,800 clients of US$65 billion.

On February 17, 2009, the former Texan Billionaire Allen Stanford was charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission with fraud and multiple violations of U.S. securities laws for alleged "massive ongoing fraud" involving $8 billion in certificates of deposits.

The FBI and other agencies had been conducting an ongoing investigation of Stanford since 2008 for possible involvement in money laundering for Mexico's Gulf Cartel.

Judicial officials say Egypt's ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons are to be tried over the deaths of anti-government protesters. More than 800 people died in the weeks-long crackdown that preceded Mr Mubarak's departure.

In addition, Mr Mubarak and his wife also face allegations of illegally acquiring wealth while they were in power for 30 years. His two sons - Alaa and Gamal - are also being held in Cairo's Tora prison and also face fraud charges.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Russia's former richest man Mikhail Khodorkovsky was convicted by Moscow's top court for theft and money laundering. He will be behind bars until 2017. The former oligarch was first arrested in 2003, and was convicted of tax evasion in an earlier trial. He was convicted in December 2010 of stealing oil from his own company and laundering the proceeds.

Closer home and more recently, Jamaica's energy and mining minister resigned from his powerful Cabinet post, hours after disclosing that the U.S. State Department had revoked his visitor visa, possibly due to a police investigation of him.

Minister James Robertson said he was not informed why U.S. visas for him and his wife, Charlene, were withdrawn, but he speculated the decision could be tied to allegations he was involved in a “murder-for-hire plot.”

Just this week, Football's governing body (FIFA) suspended top executives (Jack Warner & Bin Hammam) on allegations of bribery. FIFA will now open a full investigation into allegations that financial incentives amounting to US$40,000 were offered to members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) as bribery.

In Saint Lucia, allegations of fraud against the Minister of Foreign Affairs are rife; and we ask what is the government doing about those allegations? Will we go along with the international community or will we allow our country to be blacklisted by the international community? The Minister of Foreign Affairs publicly admitted that he procured almost a million dollars from the Moroccan Government which he said will be applied to the construction of a mini-stadium at La Fargue. He further claimed that he got financial assistance from the Government of Portugal, India and Guyana etc to assist him in sundry constituency projects.

These are happening even when the laws of St. Lucia make it clear that all monies negotiated or collected by any minister of government shall be deposited into the Consolidated Fund or Treasury. We are not aware that this was done.

Under the laws of St. Lucia, no “line” minister has the authority to allocate or authorize the use of any funds to any village council or any other entity. It is a violation of the law and it is tantamount to defrauding the State.

 St. Lucia should follow the international precedents involving Madoff, Stanford, Khodorkovsky and Muburak and institute legal action against the offending Minister who should be charged and/or jailed.

It is simply unthinkable that a Minister of government can get involved in the award of contracts, hiding behind a village council and shady individuals. It is now public knowledge that many “party hacks” in the Constituency of Choiseul/Saltibus are beneficiaries of unvetted Tucker contracts. The method of procurement of those contracts deserves investigation; and for reasons of transparency and accountability, an audit into those contracts and methods of procurement are mandatory.

The following questions need answers:
1.   Where do these funds come from?
2.   Are they being administered in accordance with the law?
3.   How did Tucker fund his 2-million dollar condo?
4.   Is it true that he charges “consultancy or negotiation fees” to potential investors wishing to invest in St. Lucia?
5.   Does his impunity in parliament also extend to him as a minister and district rep?
6.   Can he continue to indefinitely defraud the treasury with impunity?


  1. I understand that the Director of Finance is investigating the Tucker Projects. Guy Joseph is still aiding and abetting him but he is now hiding behind his henchmen. Just check what's happening in Fiette!

  2. Oh God. Its my pleasure to know such big personalities. Thanks for the wonderful post.