Bring the evidence and I’ll step down, Browne says

Prime Minister Gaston Browne (OBSERVER media photo)

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has promised to “resign forthwith”, if those who allege that his wife’s charity benefitted from public funds provide the evidence to prove this.

“Evidence of even one cent,” he told the Parliament on Friday.

In February, the government said it would pump more money into the controversial Venture Capital Fund in which Maria Browne would play a key role through her charity, Share Incorporated.

The funds were to be increased from $2 million to $5 million due to the overwhelming interest of young entrepreneurs.

Political pundits and groups have cried impropriety but speaking in Parliament on Thursday, the prime minister said he was fed up with operatives on the opposition-aligned Crusader Radio and OBSERVER Radio making the untrue claim.

Browne alleged that the detractors have also written to the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Financial Services Regulatory Commission and copied the international community to say he has “taken” $5 million of public funds and “put it into” his wife’s charity.

“I have taken a decision now that I have to be very hard on them,” he told the Lower House, as he threatened lawsuits if the allegations persist. The PM insisted that the intention is not to stifle free speech but rather to “take money off of them and let it hurt”, otherwise the claims would continue.

The prime minister was speaking in the Parliament as he led the second and third readings of the Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill 2017.

The objectives of the Bill are to allow for amendments of various laws in order to strengthen the anti money-laundering, counter-financing of terrorism framework as well as the tax information exchange framework.

Browne said this would ensure the country’s financial services comply with international standards.

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