TAIPEI, Taiwan: – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has threatened to sue a radio station and two talk show hosts for statements relating to monies that were reported deposited into a government account at the National Commercial Bank (NCB).
He said he would also take legal action regarding an opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) sponsored advertisement that questioned the origins of the US$1 million (EC$2.7 million).
Speaking on his party’s radio station Tuesday night, Gonsalves also said his supporters would make SVG “inhospitable” to Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL), the London-based communications firm that run the NDP’s elections campaigns.
Gonsalves, who is of Portuguese extraction, referred to the owners of SCL, of which former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell is an advisor, as “the descendants of the white colonialist” who wanted to “subvert the decency of our politics”.
He said the leak of information from the NCB was “still subject to criminal investigation” and he would not give it “the dignity” of a response.
His comments echoed his response to a question in Parliament earlier this year from Leader of the Opposition and NDP head Arnhim Eustace.
“… Those who say it is tainted as drug money, I will sue them. I am preparing a thing for all of them. They will add to my retirement fund,” said Gonsalves who leads the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP).
He said he would sue one-time-party-hardliners-turned-radio-talk-show-hosts Matthew Thomas and Junior Bacchus.
Gonsalves, a trained lawyer, said he would also sue Nice Radio, which airs two NDP sponsored talk shows as well as “those who prepared the ad”.
He however said he would not sue Hot 97 FM, a station owned by some of his relative, which also aired the advertisement.
“Every time the ad is played it is a defamation,” Gonsalves said in reference to the commercial which began airing last week
He said his administration had passed anti-money laundering laws and had established the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which investigates suspicious financial activities.
Persons depositing certain sums of money must file a source of funds declaration and the financial institution, even if satisfied with the declaration, “out of an abundance of caution”, may report the transaction to the FIU, Gonsalves said.
“That is the law. That is the practice. But I was waiting on them, not saying anything, and let then talk because I know they would have overstepped the mark,” Gonsalves said.
“Now that they have overstepped the mark, I am going to lead my counter offensive on them. I am going to sue captain right down to cook to add to my retirement fund.”
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, further said that the NDP has been financed by money launders.
“I am not saying Eustace. I am not saying anybody in the top leadership,” he said. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
Gonsalves said SCL was using “a kind of Hitler tactics”, to undermine the country’s democracy in aid of supporters of economic citizenship programmes.
“We will make this country inhospitable to [SCL]. The ULP is a mass political party with thousands and thousands of supporters. And when these people come here, they will feel the wrath of the ULP masses,” he said.
With general elections widely expected later this year, Gonsalves also said that SCL employees cannot work in SVG having entered the country as tourists.
“…This is not a banana republic… They have to apply for a work permit and Ralph Gonsalves is the minister of work permit. They have to send it to me. Then I will decide whether I grant them or not grant them.”
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme last November struck out the defence of BDS Limited, owners of Nice Radio, and talk show host Matthew Thomas in a case filed on behalf of Gonsalves. It was the second time Gonsalves was successfully suing the station which was struggling to pay him EC$430,000 (US$164,000) from a previous judgement.