After explaining to reporters last week that the Comptroller of Customs agreed to drop charges in the Land Rover importation saga and return the vehicle to him, Castries South MP Dr. Ernest Hilaire called for the immediate firing of former Comptroller Peter Chiquot from the pubic service.
Asked by a reporter whether Chiquot should be fired from the public service, Hilaire’s response was:
“He should be fired immediately. Immediately, because we cannot allow those things to happen in Saint Lucia. I mean this was not a mistake by a public officer, this was not incompetence by a public officer, this was willful, calculated, a public officer using his authority to go after a political opponent. I mean, we cannot allow that to happen in the country.”
Customs Officers detained Hilaire’s Land Rover in 2020 amid claims of irregularities regarding its importation because he failed to submit relevant documents while serving as Saint Lucia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
Currently Saint Lucia’s Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information, Hiaire has accused Chiquot and then Prime Minister Allen Chastanet of misconduct in public office.
“Allen Chastanet abused his office as Prime Minister to go after a political opponent to discredit him – destroy his character locally, regionally and internationally and he used public office to do so. Peter Chiquot participated in that knowing what he was doing was wrong. Two Comptrollers before him did not agree and now a new Comptroller agreed that it was totally unnecessary and is wrong,” the Minister asserted.
Hilaire declared that he did nothing wrong and was glad that ‘this chapter is over.’
However, he said: “We still have to deal with what Allen Chastanet and Peter Chiquot did. They must not be allowed to escape with that kind of conduct.”
He said the case against Chiquot and Chastanet was more important than getting back the Land Rover.
“The vehicle is just a vehicle. I have not had it for one year. It hasn’t changed my life. But the fact that they said those things, made people believe you are a thief, that’s more important and that’s the principle,” he stated.
Chastanet, for his part, described the outcome of Hilaire’s case as ‘bewildering’ and told St Lucia Times that the MP and the Comptroller of Customs ought to explain what happened to the public.
“We have the evidence which was substantiated by Ernest Hilaire himself in his own interviews that the vehicle was registered in the name of the High Commission and what is not being answered is who gave Ernest Hilaire permission to purchase it in the name of the High Commission and more importantly, against the Financial Act who gave Ernest Hilaire permission to put the car back in his name? It is bewildering,” Chastanet told St Lucia Times.
“The fact is that over the last five years Ernest Hilaire has not been able to provide to anyone, the public, the Comptroller of Customs, information substantiating that he legitimately owns the car. One doesn’t have to question whether he paid for the car, but the question is why was it put in the name of the High Commission and once it was there how did it get out?”
In addition, the former Prime Minister took to Facebook with ‘A Summary Of the Ernest Hilaire Range Rover Scandal.’