Former deputy consul-general at the SVG Consulate in New York, Edson Augustus, was fired in February. (Internet photo)

The actions of recalled SVG Deputy Consul General in New York, Edson Augustus have not tainted the name of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says.

“How in heavens’ name the functioning of a deputy consul general outside of the scope of his employment amount to a tainting of St. Vincent and the Grenadines or the government?” he told a press conference on Tuesday while responding to a question from a journalist.

Augustus, a former pastor, was recalled and fired last month after admitting that he took money from persons in New York and offered to help them source U.S. Permanent Residents Card, commonly called “Green Cards”, the government has said.

“You feel tainted? If you feel tainted, you are tainted in your mind without any relevant relation to the facts,” Gonsalves further said in response to the journalist’s question.

He said that one would “notice” that Augustus was recalled less than 24 hours after the government received confirmation that he acted outside the scope of his employment.

“You’ve ever seen such swiftness of action? What you would have been concerned about is if there was a string of words condoning what had happened.”

The journalist had noted that Gonsalves had opted to send Grenville Williams, director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, to deliver on his behalf a speech at an international conference addressing moves towards a corruption-free Caribbean.

Gonsalves said he was unable to attend because he has a lot work in respect of the supplementary estimates to be presented in Parliament on April 2.

The journalist asked Gonsalves’ reaction to persons tainting the SVG government as corrupt in light of the Augustus saga.

Gonsalves said their might be an official in a ministry who from time to time would be brought to court for fraud or theft, some of whom are convicted.

He further said that at times, there is an “infraction”, but the Director of Public Prosecution does not prosecute and the accused are disciplined internally.

“What you must be concerned about is what are the disciplinary processes which exist and persons who do anything involving dishonesty with state property or is, quote-unquote, corrupt in anyway, that there is a process that brings such persons to justice.”

He noted that SVG ranks 33 among the 177 countries on Transparency International’s 2013 perception of corruption index.

On the index, countries closer to zero are perceived as less corrupt.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves .  (IWN file photo)
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves . (IWN file photo)

Gonsalves noted that Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago rank in the 80s, and Guyana is even lower down.

“It doesn’t mean that you don’t have better to do. But when they tell you that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is among the most corrupt countries in the world, well look at this perception of corruption index.”

He further said that apart from the provisions in the law that deal with corruption, there are proceed of crime and money laundering laws for “politically exposed persons”.

Gonsalves described as a “gap in the legislative regime“ the absence of declaration of assets of politicians and high office holders.

“But I am satisfied that if you have a sound system of a legal framework and its implementation, outside of the declaration, that you handle corruption effectively,” he said, adding that Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, which have such legislation, ranked in the 80s on the index.

“… and they have a sophisticated system of an integrity commission,” Gonsalves further said.

“But the point is this: if your principal institutions are not working properly — the judicial system, the legal framework dealing with money laundering and proceeds of crime, your investigative agencies, like and FIU, the office of the DPP, the office of the director of audit — …, you can have as many targeted interventions as you want, you are not going to have the matter of official corruption being dealt with properly, and, of course, you must have a culture, a participatory and supportive culture to fight corruption, which exist in this country,” Gonsalves said.

He noted that he and Prime Minister of Bahamas, Perry Christie were invited to address the conference.

“I am sorry that I couldn’t have gone, but I wrote a paper and after the paper is delivered, I will circulate it to the press so you would see what I wrote,” Gonsalves said.

3 replies on “SVG not tainted by recalled diplomat’s actions in New York — Gonsalves”

  1. wilmoth aberdeen says:

    “But when they tell you that {SVG} is among the most corrupt countries in the world,well look at this perception of corruption index ” Governmental Portfolio structure is a more scientific measure of perception of official corruption in a Westminster style Democracy. You, Dr. Gonsalves, for example, is the only P.M.in the World (except North Korea ) who holds the portfolio of JUSTICE and FINANCE MINISTER…Your unelected son is MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS…
    No Political Party Leader should serve as Justice Minister…shame on you !

  2. Patrick Ferrari says:

    Wow. There is none so blind as those who will not see.

    Ralph’s question is, “How in heavens’ name the functioning of a deputy consul general outside of the scope of his employment amount to a tainting of St. Vincent and the Grenadines or the government?”

    The answer is in the question. How in heavens’ name can one not see that St. Vincent and the Grenadines AND the Government has been tainted because, by virtue of, for the very reason that, owing to the fact that our functioning deputy consul general acted outside the scope of his employment with the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Listen and hear – “our functioning.”

    How in heavens’ name can Ralph not see that by his deputy consul general’s immoral and fraudulent actions – while in his/our employment – would affect – and infect – the whole of our country, the people and the government? How not, for heavens’ sake?

    It is the same blind man (I am sorry Ralph) who could not see, or chose not to see, Beache’s conflict of interest and Alexander’s insider trading.

    Now I am going to read the rest of the article.

  3. Peter Binose says:

    I am not going to say again that Gonsalves must think we are all stupid, because as far as he is concerned he knows we are all stupid.

    Everyman with half a brain knows that this episode has caused us damage and its far reaching consequences will continue to cause us damage. I have had enquiries from a foreign TV company who want’s to interview Augustus. I suspect they smell a big story in the offing. But he was bum rushed out of the country, and even the Judiciary had no opportunity to form an opinion as to if he should be charged or stand trial.

    I see that Allan Palmer has asked many relevant question in an opinion piece, he usually has his finger on the pulse of what is going on in New York.

    This has caused us damage the same as when our PM was accused of and charged with rape, then accused by another lady of sexual assault, then failed to have the case’s heard in a court. I won’t go into all that again because we all know about it, as all the regions and much of the world does.
    Then in a news article the DPP told us there had been four or five other allegations of a sexual nature, and he had decided none of them had merit because of the age of the complaints among other things.

    The PM may well be innocent, but none of the matters ever went before a court. Now do you also think that has no effect on the way SVG is conceived by the rest of the World?

    Everything negative that politicians or Vincentian people do or stand accused of doing causes some kind of damage to our previously good name, just as the matter of the Ottley Hall Ship Yard, rape on our beach’s, accusations of dodgy passports, accusations of fraud, shootings almost weekly, huge sums of money hawked around Kingstown US$1 million in cash, accusation a rife of bribery and corruption, accusations of rape against our prime minister, police beating youths in our police stations until they are almost dead, and the matter of telling people in the USA that they can get a Green Card by the intervention of a Vincentian diplomat for a sum of up to US$7,000.

    It all causes us serious damage. To say otherwise can only be the ramblings of an imbecile.

    It causes us damage not just by each such individual matter, it must also have a cumulative effect, when you add everything up as a foreigner their opinion of SVG must be abysmal. But its not just foreigners, there are some good upstanding people left among the citizenry who must be devastated every time such a report or accusation raises its ugly head.

    Whoever would of dreamt 15 years ago that we could been dragged so low?

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