KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 13, IWN – The Canadian lawyer’s allegation of sexual assault and Dave Ames’ Vincentian citizenship were among the nine issues a BBC producer raised in a letter to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
The Office of the Prime Minister on Monday circulated to the media the “strictly private and confidential” letter that Matthew Chapman wrote to Gonsalves on Feb. 26 as well as Gonsalves’ March 7 response.
Chapman explained that the BBC’s Panorama programme is putting together a film for broadcast in March “looking at how the U.K. pension investment market has changed over the last few years”.
He said that many more people are looking to move from conventional schemes to self-managed investments.
“We will be saying that this has led to many falling victim to sharp practice and/or fraud and that the regulator and regulated firms who are meant to provide some protection in this area are failing to do so.”
He explained that as part of the programme, the BBC “will detail how investors in Harlequin Properties, may face, in some cases, losing almost all of their pension savings because properties they have invested in have failed to materialise. In the programme we are likely to be raising a number of issues and are writing to invite your response to the following:
- During the course of our research, we have been told about three meetings held between Mr David Ames and yourself. The first two meetings, we are told, took place in January and March 2011. It is alleged that during these meetings Mr Ames arrived with a substantial amount of currency (USD) and left the respective meetings without these monies.
- It is said that the first meeting, in January 2011, took place at your official residence and the second, in March 2011, at the office of Mr Samuel Commissiong, First Floor, St Vincent Building and Loan Association Building, Halifax Street, Kingstown.
- It is also understood that there was a third meeting in June 2011 where money similarly changed hands.
- It is further alleged that you, your family and Unity Labour Party colleagues enjoyed substantial hospitality at the Buccament Bay resort which you have not publicly disclosed. We would be grateful if you could provide us with dates when you have attended the Buccament Bay resort together with a full list of those who accompanied you and the amount of hospitality you received.
- Could you please explain in detail the terms by which Mr David Ames was offered citizenship by the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines?
- We would be grateful if you could explain precisely what you understand to be the current and historical position regarding land ownership and planning permission at the Buccament Bay site. We understand that prior to 13th January 2009, Harlequin owned no land whatsoever in St Vincent and also that the terms of the pre-agreement to sell land (clause 5) restricted planning permission “for the sole purpose of erecting a Five-Star Hotel and Recreational Facility.” There is no mention of any permission extending to any other building in apparent contradiction to what has since been built on the site.
- We would appreciate your response to allegations made by Margaret Parsons that you are “a sexual predator” and that you “attacked and sexually assaulted” her in your office.
- Could you explain how it came to pass that a Mr Reuben Morgan, a holder of a SVG diplomatic passport, was arrested in London whilst in possession of a significant quantity of illegal drugs?
- Could you also explain how Mr Morgan came to be in possession of a diplomatic passport and the nature of the diplomacy he conducted on behalf of the country you represent?”
Chapman said his programme would appreciate a response by yesterday — Tuesday, March 12 — for consideration for inclusion in the programme “so that we can reflect your position on these matters as appropriate”.
Gonsalves responded to Chapman in a 12-page March 7 letter, in which he denied any wrongdoing.
He further said Parsons’ “false allegation” was testing in the courts and found wanting.
Gonsalves further restated his position of not explaining why any person is granted Vincentians citizenship. He explained that the law does not require him to do so.
“I state unequivocally though that the grant of citizenship to Mr. AMes was done properly within the four walls of the relevant law,” he said.
Meanwhile, Samuel E. Commissiong, lawyer for Buccament Bay Resort, in a March 11 letter to Chapmen, said the allegation regarding the money “is not only patently false and silly, it suggests that Dr. Gonsalves was there to receive it or else it was left there for him.
“In the latter sense, you have also implicated me in a potentially cranial act which never happened,” he further wrote.