The physician who was jailed in connection with the 2009 death of Michael Jackson was among a team of potential investors who visited St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) two weeks ago.
Grenada-born Dr. Conrad Murray was imprisoned for involuntary manslaughter in 2011, two years after Jackson died from a significant overdose of the anaesthetic, propofol.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves greeted Murray when he and other persons, including Trinidadian Derek Chin, chairman of the three MovieTowne cineplexes in Trinidad and Tobago, landed on a private jet at Argyle on Feb. 14 — when the airport officially opened.
Gonsalves said on Boom FM on Friday that he did not know that it was Murray until someone pointed it out to him some time later.
The prime minister said that his government would not object to Murray being among persons investing in SVG, but said it would depend on the type of investment.
“I wouldn’t, on the face of it, say that because a man went to prison for a particular matter — there’s a gentleman who went to prison and who is heading a church. You know what I mean. I will have to know what the person wants to invest in. For instance, if he wants to invest in a medical facility, I will find that problematic,” Gonsalves said.
He told listeners that he doesn’t know of Murray wanting to invest at the location of the decommissioned E.T. Joshua Airport, where the government says it will build a new city, in partnership with the private sector.
“Nobody has spoken to me about that. What I do know [is] that he came in on the same private aircraft with Derek Chin and other investors, including the lawyer for Derek Chin — the law firm,” Gonsalves said.
He said his government has a memorandum of understanding with Chin in relation to some development in the Arnos Vale area.
“But that memorandum of understanding is to be put in a firm agreement. There are a number of things which we have to do.”
Gonsalves said he has a meeting scheduled for this week to discuss, within the state administration, how they progress, “the structures and the systems”.
“I have to get somebody to drive that particular project now that we have the airport up and running.
“I have to get a good person to drive that. It has been done, under, thus far, National Properties, but there is an Argyle Airport Development Company. We need a fulltime professional — National Properties don’t have the staff, really, to do it, other than the preliminary things that they have been involved in.”
Gonsalves said he did not meet with Murray, adding that while he was on the tarmac, Chin, or Chin’s lawyer, pointed out Murray to him.
“In fact, I wasn’t aware that he was the gentleman until afterwards. At that point, I didn’t know.”
Gonsalves said that approval for investments in SVG would be given depending “on what an individual would want to invest in, what group he’s involved in and so on and so forth”.
He, however, maintained that he does not know that Murray wants to invest in SVG.
He added: “A number of persons would express interest to invest and then nothing comes of it. So, I usually wait until I see seriousness and then I reach a stage at which I can be involved. But I don’t know anything about that. Nobody officially has drawn that to my attention.”
In 2011, Murray was sentenced to four years in prison after a jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter in connection with Jackson’s death. He was released after two years, due to prison overcrowding and good behaviour.