Opposition leader Allen Chastanet has written a letter to Acting Comptroller of Customs Sherman Emmanuel, urging him to publicly indicate the reasoning behind a decision to withdraw a case against Dr. Ernest Hilaire regarding the importation of a Range Rover Discovery Sport.
In the seven-page letter dated January 4, 2022, Chastanet wrote that the presence of Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre at the court hearing and the PM’s assertion that justice had was served ought to confirm that the case is no ordinary one.
As a result, the opposition leader said it requires that the Customs Comptroller publicly reveal the details of his discussions or the facts he relied upon to make his decision.
“Failing which the Office of the Leader of the Opposition will be forced to pursue all remedies available at law to compel you so to do,” Chastanet stated.
The former Prime Minister indicated that the case has implications for Saint Lucia’s reputation and the trust of the public and this country’s international partners.
“In particular, we are concerned about the integrity of our Department of Customs and its officers, the reputation of our Foreign Office and its adherence to its Diplomatic agreements and obligations. It is my hope that in your deliberations, you equally considered these important concerns as you would be duty bound to do,” the Micoud South MP wrote.
Chastanet outlined several points he described as ‘facts as we know them’ regarding the Hilaire Range Rover case.
He also raised questions regarding the vehicle’s importation and registration in Saint Lucia without a perfected invoice.
In addition, he posed some questions which he said the Comptroller must answer, including whether it was not a fact that he failed to consult with the Director of Public Prosecutions prior to the ‘purported decision to withdraw the case and to support the request for the Court to “dismiss” the case.’
The former Prime Minister said it was important to understand why the Comptroller of Customs has not given any public statements explaining his decision.
“The only statements that have been offered are that of Dr. Hilaire’s attorney and the Prime Minister. Their statements are bewildering and inconsistent with the facts and law and it requires for you to publicly clarify the rationale for your decision,” Chastanet asserted.
“Sir, I hope you treat this matter with the seriousness, respect, honesty, and transparency it demands. The citizens of Saint Lucia and our diplomatic partners expect nothing less than clarity on this matter and that this matter has been treated fairly and impartially and consistent with the Laws of Saint Lucia. I look forward to your earliest response within 14 days of the date hereof,” the letter concluded.