Wednesday, October 5, 2022

‘Rovergate Scandal’ Lands In High Court

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The Leader of the Opposition has sought the leave of the High Court to grant a Judicial Review of the decision by the Customs and Excise Department to withdraw the prosecution of Ernest Hilaire over the importation of a Land Rover Sport vehicle.

The decision to discontinue the case in December 2021, despite a public outcry for answers, has been shrouded in secrecy, with the Comptroller of Customs yet to offer any explanation, despite the fact that The Leader of the Opposition, by letter dated January
4th 2022, posed several questions regarding the withdrawal of the case.

The Application by the Leader of the Opposition was filed with the High Court on April 5th 2022 and makes the case that the Comptroller of Customs Mr. Sherman Emmanuel and Customs Inspector Mr. Paul Noel unlawfully caused three charges against Dr. Hilaire to be withdrawn.

The Leader of the Opposition’s Application to the Courts presents a strong, incriminating case of serious violations of the rules of natural justice, violations of due process of law and the lack of the administration of the Customs Control and Management Act.

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The Application requests that the decision to withdraw the cases be quashed and that the prosecution be reinstated on the basis that Hilaire has failed to comply with the directive of the Comptroller of Customs to produce documents for the said vehicle.

Among the several reasons given for seeking the relief of the courts was that the two individuals did not have the authority under the Customs Acts to withdraw the case; that the Director of Public Prosecution had taken over the Customs case, hence the power to discontinue proceedings was a decision of the DPP.

The Application also highlights conflicts of interest in the fact that the Customs Comptroller breached the principles of natural justice by obtaining legal advice from the Attorney General who had previously served as Ernest Hilaire’s lawyer in the same case.

It is further noted in the Application that the current Comptroller and the Customs Inspector failed to render the evidence gathered from former Comptroller of Customs Mr. Peter Chiquot which was admissible and provided a realistic prospect of conviction.

The 17-page Application lists in great detail all the known facts associated with the case, dating back to April 2015 when a Land Rover Discovery Sport was purchased in England and registered in the name of the Saint Lucia High Commission in London, hence a state asset.

The Land Rover was then imported into Saint Lucia by Ernest Hilaire and was given a Customs pre-delivery, pending submissions of documents to perfect the entry.

Years passed by with the vehicle on pre-delivery, when in 2018, Customs requested a supplier’s commercial invoice which Dr. Hilaire through his attorney refused to provide to the Customs Department in order to close the entry.

After almost two years of correspondence back and forth between the Customs Department and Dr. Hilaire produced no results of the requested documents, the Customs Department in consultation with the Office of the DPP, brought three charges against Dr. Hilaire.

Addressing the filing of the High Court Application, Leader of the Opposition Honourable Allen Chastanet, explained the importance of the resolution of this case.

“We have exhausted all efforts to get answers in the matter,” noted Chastanet. “It would seem that the Customs Department, the Attorney General and the Prime Minister who was present when the case was withdrawn don’t feel they owe the public of Saint Lucia an explanation. Now, we turn to the Judiciary to allow a review of this matter; to look at all the breaches, inconsistencies, irregularities and even the conflicts of interest that led to this case being withdrawn. The public deserves answers. As I have said before this case has implications for us all, not to mention the reputation of our institutions.

“At this point this Application to the High Court is our only recourse to figure out the sordid details of what transpired and the deals that appeared were made in this case,” noted Chastanet. “This case should have been decided by the courts in the first place. Justice must be seen to be done.”

Source: Office Of The Leader Of The Opposition. Headline photo: (L to R) Ernest Hilaire & Allen Chastanet

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

16 COMMENTS

  1. One thing Lucians are united on is their disdain for the corrupt Heliar. I hope SLP is paying attention. They will attack Chas on other issues but once it’s rovergate or heliar the tune is the same aross the board. They don’t want heliar. They don’t trust heliar. They need the truth on this rovergate issue and they need heliar to step down. Yet Pierre is not reading the signs. Heliar will be the downfall of the SLP

  2. Hilaire, Tafawa, Thaddeus, Lorne, Leslie and all the parties to this debacle should be the first cases for the special prosecutor. Pierre are you really serious about corruption? All I see is you surrounding yourself with the same corrupt and dishonest people. When the parties to this scandal can be the first to be rewarded thanks to Hilaire it is glaringly obvious that you have zero control over what happens in your cabinet. What is even more painful is that you appear to allow Hilaire to dictate decisions. Honest, transparent people have no place in this SLP government… the cabal, inner circle and their friends, families and sneaky links continue to ensure that their pockets are lined! As someone who campaigned for this government, sold the vision to many and got them on board for what I thought was good governance, accountability and transparency I am disappointed. I apologize to those who I encouraged to vote for them. I was fooled!

  3. This is ridiculous. The Prime Minister accompanied Ernest Hilaire to the Hearing at Administration and claimed that he was present to ensure that Justice was done. Imagine that! The newly appointed Controller of Customs seeks the advice and counsel of the newly installed Attorney General who some months earlier provided aggressive representation for Mr. Hilaire on the very matter. Wow!!! Is this a nation of clowns commanding fools? We can do better. Hilaire should step down in the interim and the Attorney General should be sent snorkeling for cabbage somewhere near the Pitons.

  4. I applaud you on this Chas. Let’s take this all the way. It’s time to weed out the corruption in high places one by one and bring back integrity to this country.
    UWP lost due to allegations of corruption. Let those accused be tried before the courts. Labour will be held to the same standard. Let all accused be tried before the courts.
    Crimes against the people of St.Lucia will not be tolerated.
    Public Service is an honourable ‘service’ to country and not for enrichment of a small elite.

  5. There is so much talk about corruption in government, past and present, we might as well go after all of them. If we can stop the crooks, we can save the treasury and by doing so, we all benefit. We must account for every dollar spent. Some have their loot well hidden, but with reputable investigators, their hidden stach can be uncovered.

  6. Some of us are suffering while some keep on pocketing and pocketing at tax payers money. At the end of the month the amount of tax we pay is questionable. Cost of living increasing. Salary remain the sam. Tax is high. Chas is the opposition and its duty to perform his job and frankly he made his mistakes but we cannot fault him for doing his job. Maybe he has learnt from his mistakes and next time will do a better job. When Slp was in opposition they were doing the same but what surprises me is that the things they were complaining about are the same things they are doing now that they are in office. We need a new party in stlucia with honest and god fearing people. Let’s not let greed compromise us. Let’s do it the right way if it’s good for one it’s good for the other. I hope the pm takes the advice of the late mr Desmond to him at the end of his text message. I am an Slp and I know that anytime you pinpoint their faults they get mad at you. I will not be suprise as to how many of us will be punished for speaking the truth. Never fear of speaking the truth for god got your back. Let’s the right thing be done in that river case and let’s move on with love. Peace and love

  7. Go get him! This is absolutely the right thing to do! the man was given high position overseas. The man dishonoured that office in so many ways and then defrauded the government and st lucian taxpayers. and now he has been rewarded with deputy PM position and case conveniently withdrawn? What nonsense is this! Show us that you all can be trusted with justice because generations of lucians and caribbean people have been calling for the same. If we dont do this, we will have more volaires in government, taking public money, even government land for themselves rather than developing it into affordable housing for the poor. and the million dollar taxes they get from food is not going into building roads or improving services for all in this country but in contracts for family friends and their pockets. I for one tired of all this corruption.

  8. yes i agree if marcus nicholas go down to jail then the accused in this rovergate mater has to go punished to

  9. What is the difference between he lies and T William’s attempt to defraud the UK government and the recent court ruling against a former uwp opposition leader from Dennery North? I see SLP supporters rejoicing at this but in their camp the same has happened. He lies should have been asked to step down until the matter is brought to a conclusion that satisfies the electorate…in other countries ministers have made to step down for less. To make matters worse the other party to the deception in the UK is being rewarded for his part and he lies legal team here has been rewarded too. I can’t believe that I voted for change and this is what I’m getting. Meanwhile this dishonest man, instead of being asked to step down has been given the position of deputy prime minister. He is not to be trusted! This is the arrogance that the slp is notorious for. SLP ask yourself why is it that in such a short space of time, your popularity has flatlined? I am calling on this government to remove he lies from his position, remove the one in England who first tried to buy the vehicle in his name from his position and all the others who were party to this corrupt act and have been rewarded remove them too. Strip them all because the transparency you campaigned and won on is very lacking and all you have shown is that you are guilty of the very thing you campaigned against. We demand better because you promised better. A lot of US will withdraw our support of this government because of this! SLP knows that he lies is not popular amongst the base right now…for that matter he is not liked but yet they still want to impose this man on US.

  10. This is a qualitative approach from Chastenet. We need to seek better governance. That doesn’t mean that Chastenet is without sin. I for one, am tired with the machinations of both parties, as members try to shakedown the treasury.
    It’s time we stand up to attempts to pilfer the treasury by anyone. Every penny counts in those small economies.

  11. There’s a difference; may not be charged twice but you can appeal; the appellant Court will decide. This whole thing stinks, it does no side any good. A good Lawyer would have advised his client to forgo this case, let the Customs have the damn vehicle and save your good name and whatever reputation you have; as the old saying goes – you can’t fight City Hall – you may win some, but it comes at a price, one you should avoid. Young man, stay away from any and all Court cases.

  12. The carpetbagger, Allen Chastanet, does not seem to have an elementary understanding of law. In most countries, one cannot be prosecuted twice for the same crime. And I do hope the same apply to St. Lucia. If so, then, Chastanet is exercising his buffoonery.

    • You idiot! What are you talking about. The matter at hand has not been tried. It was withdrawn, not dismissed and therefore can be reinstated. In this case I hope the high court rules that it should be reinstated. The law is not there only for the poor. This seems to be the case in St Lucia. While collar crime should be given equal attention. The Rule of law should e upheld by all. I am not a Chastenet supporter but agree with his decision to seek redress in the matter. I am disappointed with our current Prime Minister for being party to this seemingly corrupt act. We need change in this country and Chastenet, the man I least expected to do so is leading the charge. Bravo to him for his efforts in this regard. That doesn’t mean that he is in any way better or without fault. He just made the right decision in this instance. Shame on the Labour Party for stooping so low. He liar is not loved in this country and has just made his situation worse. I hope Justice prevails and is served at the end. If not, such actions and decisions will lead to a breakdown in our society when we the proletariats seek the same kind of underhand interventions that may never be granted. The result will be open rebellion!!!

Comments are closed.

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