Recalled Deputy Consul-General at the SVG Consulate in New York, Edson Augustus. (Internet photo)
Recalled Deputy Consul-General at the SVG Consulate in New York, Edson Augustus. (Internet photo)

Vincentians who feel wronged by recalled diplomat, Edson Augustus should not expect him to see him tried in the nation’s courts.

The former deputy consul general at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Consulate in New York was recalled on Feb. 7 for taking money from out-of-status persons in New York and promising to help them secure U.S. Permanent Resident Cards, commonly called “Green Cards”.

“We know that he was charging them — the ones we have confirmed so far are in the neighbourhood of five to six thousand U.S. dollars a pop,” Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Camillo Gonsalves, said in an interview with a local television station, broadcast on Sunday.

(Read also: Diplomat was recalled for offering to help source ‘Green Cards’)

While Augustus acted outside of the scope of employment and embarrassed the nation, he did not break the laws of SVG, Gonsalves said.

“Based on the information that we have so far, Mr. Augustus hasn’t committed a crime. Mr. Augustus may have defrauded somebody up there, but I don’t have the specifics of what he promised or what the nature of agreement was,” said Gonsalves, a lawyer and former ambassador to the United Nations.

“If he says, ‘Give me some money and I can help you out’, I don’t think there is enough basis there for a crime, even in the United States. But what we know him to have done, doesn’t amount to a crime in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said.

He further said he does not think the former deputy consul general’s action could negatively affect Vincentians applying for visas or other status in the United States.

“This is a situation where somebody, for want of a better word, was preying on the vulnerabilities of Vincentians in the diaspora. There is not interface between what he was doing and what states do in determining who gets a visa and who doesn’t get a visa,” Gonsalves said.

Augustus was appointed in May 2011, under the tenure of then minister of foreign affair, former senator, Douglas Slater.

During his appearance on the television programme, Gonsalves defended Augustus’ appointment, saying that former pastor, who left the Seventh Day Adventists Church amidst allegations three months before his appointment, had the requisite skills for a diplomatic post.

Asked if the situation could have been avoided if there had been greater due diligence, Gonsalves said:

“I don’t know. I mean everybody has 20-20 hindsight in these sorts of things and everybody is what they would call in the U.S. a Monday morning quarterback.

“But Mr. Augustus has particular talents that made him well suited for the position that he took.”

Gonsalves said Augustus was congratulated for the manner in which he handled the relief effort in New York after the Christmas flood in St. Vincent.

He said that from all accounts, Augustus was proactive and hands-on.

“These are the sorts of things that we want our deputy consul general to do. So, he had a number of talents that made him well suited for the post.

“So, in that sense, based on his talents, he was well-selected. Now, after the fact of course, you can say, ‘Look at what he has done; he shouldn’t have done it.’ And you can make all sorts of decisions; but I certainly understand why he was chosen at the point at which he was chosen.”

Asked if the government was aware of the allegations after Augustus left the SDA church and if the government investigated them sufficiently, Gonsalves said:

“I don’t believe that the government was aware that he was read out. In fact, I don’t know if he was read out.”

Gonsalves further noted that his and Augustus’ ambassadorial stints overlapped.

Gonsalves said that in New York, Augustus was referred to as “Pastor Augustus” and was very active in the SDA Church and was an integral part of the SDA community in Brooklyn.

He, however, noted the embarrassment of having to recall a diplomat in circumstances such as Augustus’ recall.

“But the facts of what he did, what we know, are not nearly as embarrassing as what would have been potentially embarrassing if some of these allegations are true.

“It is not a good moment that you have to recall a diplomat…” Gonsalves further said, but noted that the government received reports on Feb. 5 and recalled Augustus two days later.

“And it think that that should be something to the credit of the government and the administration,” he said.

As of Friday evening, Augustus was yet to return to SVG.

Meanwhile, Gonsalves told I-Witness News on Friday that Augustus was en route to SVG, and he expects him to arrive to SVG in a few days.

“I don’t know if he is going to make a stop to see family elsewhere before he gets here,” Gonsalves told I-Witness News.

14 replies on “Recalled diplomat didn’t break any of SVG’s laws – Sen. Gonsalves”

  1. Basically this crook gets a pat on the back , it’s no big deal to defraud people. Ulp is a joke of a government

  2. Urlan Alexander says:

    So tell me. You are placed at an overseas office to help the Vincentian populace at that overseas country. The same people you are placed there to help you turn around and accept money under false pretence from them. The thing is you have not commit a crime according to your boss. Something not right here, somebody please explain someone.

    1. This administration is so corrupt. At times I am afraid to be refer to as a Vincentian. How can nothing happen at the embassy. We just need an independent enquiry to get to the bottom of this. This is a CORRUPT REGIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Let us not forget the following as this issue continues to unfold:

    1. Some of the biggest scamps, sexual predators, and hypocrites around are members of the clergy.

    2. One of Karl Marx’s most prescient observations is that “religion is the opium of the masses.”

    3. Taken together this means that our so-called religious leaders are here to fool us and we, in turn, are happy to be fooled.

  4. I was not going a make any remark. However, I am inclined to do so for the following reasons since Sen. Camillo Gonsalves made a statement that borders on the ridiculous.

    1. Senator Gonsalves, Edson Augustus broke the laws of the US.A. His diplomatic immunity shields him from any criminal or civil prosecutions. However, the timing of the revocation of his diplomatic immunity and Edson Augustus’ presence in the U.S.A. could have led to him being prosecuted under the laws of the U.S.A. Sen. Gonsalves needed to choose his words carefully.

    2. Sen. Gonsalves, Politics 101, when a probable scandal involving the foreign mission is about to unfold and infect with pus, nip it in the bud. Mr. Eustace should not have to push or nudge the government for a remark since the allegations broke. We in the Diaspora knew there were elements of truths in the lady’s allegations and the government of SVG should have recalled Edson Augustus immediately. Having done that, Sen. Gonsalves would not be dealing with this matter this week. When it comes to politics, the lines between perception and reality are blurred and become the same. “When truth is blurred by lies and misinformation, perception becomes reality and all is lost.”

    3. Is Edson Augustus the first diplomat to demand money from people in New York for “Green Card”? Allegations are also rife that this has been going on for some time. Edson Augustus is the deputy in command, and I am sure the person in command heard about these allegations before the people and government of SVG. There and then, this matter could have been settled and Edson Augustus recalled with a statement detailing his misdeeds. Sen. Gonsalves, please clean house!

    4. The people at the Vincentian diplomatic mission are uncouth, ill-mannered and downright condescending to us in the Diaspora. Recently, a friend of mine decided to obtain a Vincentian passport and waited for 2 hours whilst the person responsible for signing some sort of document was on the premises. The said person was not in a meeting and no one apologized to my friend for their tardiness.

    When the dust is settled, these kinds of behavior sully the good name of SVG and swift action is needed in these types of situation. On another note, it saddens me when the opposition NDP is using this for political mileage, but again, everything is partisan politics in SVG.

  5. We have another one that will OWN THE JAIL, when the government leaves office. This guy is suppose to be a lawyer but he speaks like he has no sense. Fraud is a crime, even in SVG, and all of you will have your day in court for all the things that you all did. Everybody knew thta nothing was going to come from this, and the BS so called investigations that you all did, but we just wanted to hear the nonsense our selves. These are Vincentians that this guy was confirmed to have defrauded, hard working Vincentians, some of them their entire life savings, this is sick.
    And there are more that he did that still hasn’t been confirmed, we want you all to remove his diplomatic immunity, because even though you can protect him in svg, Home Land Security in the US will come for him in the middle of Kingstown if they have to, the only thing that is protecting him is his diplomatic status.
    If he did nothing wrong, then he shouldn’t need immunity to protect him from any crimes he may have committed in the USA. Time longer than twine fellas, and one day the twine is going to run out. OWN THE JAIL.

  6. ” Gonsalves further said, but noted that the government received reports on Feb. 5 and recalled Augustus two days “. Where did the reports come, from security agents or individuals?. “But Mr. Augustus has particular talents that made him well suited for the position that he took.”
    Gonsalves said Augustus was congratulated for the manner in which he handled the relief effort in New York after the Christmas flood in St. Vincent.
    He said that from all accounts, Augustus was proactive and hands-on.
    “These are the sorts of things that we want our deputy consul general to do. So, he had a number of talents that made him well suited for the post”. So what Camillo is telling us is that Augustus qualified for a job in 2011 because of floods in 2013. I wonder who got that vision?. To get citizenship i would think that you will have to get a ‘green card’ first. Why would the ambassador of a country encourage the citizens of the country they represent to get the citizenship of another country?.
    SEPTEMBER 25, 2011 I-Witness News.- Ralph Gonsalves-“… I think there are 20-something at the moment who, they have informed us, are ready for deportation,” Gonsalves said.
    He said the soon-to-be-deported Vincentians include “persons who didn’t have their stay properly regularised and who committed one offence or the other”. Was Gonsalves hinting that one must get regularised with ‘green card’ or citizenship so they wouldn’t be deported?.
    SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 IWN- Kingstown’s ambassador to Washington, La Celia Prince- “Now there are many of you who are residents of the United States who are entitled to citizenship and I know the Consul General has encouraged you if you are entitled to citizenship to go the extra length.
    “We don’t want to get into your business as such or to tell you how to run your lives but we want to encourage you to empower yourselves through citizenship,” Prince said”. I wonder if you have to have a ‘green card’ to get citizenship?.

  7. Patrick Ferrari says:

    If he did not break any laws as it is, then he would have broken less laws if he supplied what he took the money for. Moral law included.

  8. such remarks are expected from Sen Gonsalves, remember thet he himself because of his arrogance cause an uproar in one of the missions, he further made a statement it may sound foolish his saying is”” If it walk like a duck,,quack like a duck therefore it is definitely a duck”. Look how he covering up wrongdoings causing embarrassment to Vincentians.

  9. Camillo has avoided the question, “if the situation could have been avoided if there had been greater due diligence “, and instead offered cover and excuses for this abuse of power by a diplomatic representative of SVG. He sees nothing wrong with this guy’s action as far as he is concerned. Only a few Vincentians were defrauded. Man you are as sick as your daddy! Trying to praise the guy for what he did during the disaster is a “whitewash”, because that’s part of his function. Then to expand this praise, by indicting that he was well suited for this mission, leaves me guessing. Is the entire government packed with people with these extreme talents?
    Of course there should be no need for 20-20 hindsight if the guy was investigated before he was posted as a diplomat, on the advice of a pastor who’s now running for cover, claiming the issue is political. Didn’t he know that this was a political appointment? So where is he going? Mr Pastor you are right in the middle of this mess and to top it off you are also making excuses for this culprit. Meanwhile Vincentians will be affected, in spite of what Camillo thinks.
    There must be an investigation to avoid the “Monday morning quarterback” claim by Camillo. How can we avoid these embarrassments to SVG nationals in the Diaspora and at home? This government is already an embarrassment to the nation.

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