Former Saint Lucia Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, has defended his administration’s $7.3 million deal with Radical Investments to procure 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine via a direct award, asserting that his former government’s ‘due diligence’ worked.
Radical was supposed to act as an intermediary in securing the vaccines for Saint Lucia, Barbados, and the Bahamas.
But claiming it was duped, the company filed a lawsuit in the United States against the purported supplier, Good Vibrations Entertainment LLC, and others, over the deal.
Saint Lucia, although paying upfront for the vaccine doses, received none.
However, addressing a virtual news conference on Thursday, former Prime Minister Chastanet told reporters that a contract was negotiated, and the Office of the Attorney General vetted the level of accountability.
Chastanet denied issuing a handwritten cheque, asserting that there was an electronic transfer of the cash to Radical’s account.
In addition, the former PM observed that Radical has been working to reimburse Saint Lucia.
“ My understanding is that some of that reimbursement is already underway, and by the next couple of weeks or less the full amount would have been reimbursed to the government of Saint Lucia,” he told reporters.
“The due diligence that we did worked. The fact that we had a contract in place attested to the fact that this was not being done secretly. I came out in several statements publicly
to pronounce that we were working on getting the vaccines, that we were working with three other countries because it is impossible for Saint Lucia to buy a million vaccines by itself,” he noted.
According to Chastanet, Radical approached his former administration to say they were working with two other countries to purchase the doses.
He explained that the arrangement must be seen in the context of what was occurring at the time.
“We could not get vaccines,” Chastanet declared, adding that the government had reached out to the UK and India, which could not assist at the time. At the same time, the US and Canada had initially indicated that they were not then providing vaccines.
Chastanet said he confirmed the other countries involved in the Radical Investments arrangement. Still, he revealed there was “certain private information” that he was not privileged to ask other than establishing what the price was going to be.
He said he was satisfied that the contract Saint Lucia had in place would have covered this country. Chastanet said he was further satisfied that Radical Investments boss, Mark Maloney, was not an “unknown entity.”
“As I said – established businessman in Barbados, had done business in Saint Lucia and more importantly, owns assets in Saint Lucia so that if at any point things went wrong, I knew that the government would have had recourse. But I am very happy to know that the faith that I had in Mr. Maloney and Radical was well founded in that they have started the process of reimbursing Saint Lucia and I want to applaud Mr. Maloney, who did not have to do this from what I understand,” the former Prime Minister declared.
Just recently, the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) government announced that there would be an investigation into the Radical Investments vaccine procurement arrangement with the former Chastanet administration while accusing the former PM of using this country’s money as if it belonged to him.
Headline photo: Allen Chastanet stock image