Castries South MP, Dr. Ernest Hilaire, has announced plans to take further legal action against Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, in the ongoing saga over the MP’s purchase, importation and ownership of vehicles.
Hilaire told a news conference Thursday that he had instructed his Attorneys to take legal action against the PM over a statement issued Wednesday by the Office of the Prime Minister on the issue.
The Castries South MP’s opening statement to the news conference is reproduced below:
The insecure and infantile Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s uncontrollable and disturbing
obsession with me continues and has intensified.
Previously, I responded to oral statements, insinuations and comments regarding the purchase, importation and ownership of two vehicles. Now, the Prime Minister has shamefully weaponized his official office, misuses the resources of the state and taken matters to a new level.
He has now reduced the Office of Prime Minister to a weapon against a political opponent
in executing a baseless and vindictive witch-hunt against me.
I am advised that the official statement of September 2, 2020, from the Prime Minister’s Office constitutes a further defamation against me.
Accordingly, I have instructed my Attorneys to take further legal action on my behalf to the fullest extent of the law to protect my reputation and constitutional rights.
In this regard, I will say very little directly about the contents of the Office of the Prime Minister’s Statement, lest I be held in contempt of Court.
I am also limited in what documents that I can share with you at this time.
Though I have previously responded in detail to the various attacks by the Prime Minister and his surrogates in their five-year campaign against me, some facts are worth repeating.
Firstly, they claimed that I had stolen a state asset. Secondly, that I had bought the vehicle with monies given to me by Juffali. So I then provided my bank statements to the media and the Court proving beyond any doubt that I had paid for my vehicle with my personal funds.
Then there was a third spin. Nancy Charles questioned my ability to purchase two vehicles and suggested I was involved in money laundering.
That claim was also stated in an untested affidavit filed by Allen Chastanet. I provided evidence that my brother had paid for his vehicle via a loan from a local credit union. A loan he continues to service.
Now there is a fourth spin.
Not that the vehicle does not belong to me, not that it is stolen but that I had defrauded the UK Government! Not the Saint Lucian Government but the UK Government by not paying VAT.
How much is the VAT? £5,351.23! So this latest attack is I did not pay VAT, not to the Saint
Lucia Government but to the UK Government in the amount of £5,351.23.
I maintain, as I always have, that I committed no infractions or breaches nor were my actions even unusual.
I wish to specifically and categorically state the following points for the benefit
of the public:
The purchase of an item, vehicle or otherwise, for a relative or a friend is a normal, legal and legitimate transaction the world over.
Such transactions are executed thousands of times per day and Saint Lucia is no exception.
There is nothing in the laws of Saint Lucia which prohibits such transactions. Let me give you an example. You want a new flat screen TV or a barrel.
You send the money to a brother or sister in the US to buy and ship to Saint Lucia for you. Is that illegal? Items which are bought for export does not include VAT and if it does, you can reclaim the VAT once it is exported.
Ask thousands of Saint Lucians if that is not true.
The simple question is how could I have defrauded the UK Government when they have lost nothing. Even if the VAT was to be paid, then surely the monies would be repaid to me once the vehicle is exported!
At all material times Mr. Tafawa Williams was acting as my agent as he is legally and properly entitled to do and all documentation associated with the transaction was legal and legitimate.
Mr. Williams acted as my agent as the transaction related to the vehicle could not have been completed prior to my departure from London.
I acted on advice that I should have an agent act on my behalf given that I would not be there to personally receive the vehicle.
Mr. Williams was a member of Staff and was accredited as a diplomat enjoying duty free
However, Mr. Williams already had a diplomatic car registered in his name and could not have registered the vehicle in order that it could be received and shipped to me.
The High Commission was advised to facilitate the transaction under its name.
I paid for the vehicle, the High Commission received it on my behalf, had it registered, then shipped the vehicle to Saint Lucia together with my other personal effects.
The country of destination was always intended to be and stated on all relevant documentation as Saint Lucia.
There was no hiding as to where the vehicle was going to. Mr. Williams has since last night, issued a statement on the Prime Minister’s allegations showing these allegations as nothing but lies.
Unlike the Prime Minister, I observed all the relevant laws and legal provisions and was in
contravention of none in the purchase and importation of the vehicles.
This unhealthy sustained persecution of me, by the Prime Minister and his agents, and now
using the Office of the Prime Minister, and the resources of the state, is nothing more than a vile campaign of malice intended to tarnish my good image and reputation.
It is evident that the Prime Minister and his party have recognised that they have lost the
confidence of the Saint Lucian people who are eager to remove them from Government.
In a desperate bid to create a public distraction from his woeful and abysmal record as Prime Minister and the performance of the UWP government underpinned by overt corruption, the petty Prime Minister and his underlings have conjured up a dead horse non-story against me.
His continued deceit and lies by using selective Court documents, while not disclosing the
documents which will tell a different story, further bears out his unethical character.
That I am his target confirms the widely held view that he is threatened by my political profile and the confidence that the people of Castries South, in particular and Saint Lucia, generally,have in me and my record as a distinguished professional who has served without blemish at home, in the Caribbean and internationally.
Trust me, if he succeeds against me then it will be colleague after colleague.
But, unlike the Prime Minister, neither me nor any of my colleagues have never been viewed as incompetent or declared a liar by any Court, let alone 3 Judges of the Court of Appeal.
Finally, I challenge the Prime Minister that if he is convinced that I have acted in contravention of the law and he “respects” the Rule of Law, then let him and his underlings take Court action to repossess any property which I am in possession of which he believes is not rightfully owned by me.
I shall continue the exercise my right to sue for abuse of public office and malicious persecution. And of course he will have to face a political response never seen before.