Opposition to ask GG about Odebrecht inquiry

Senate Minority Leader Harold Lovell (file photo)

Political leader of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), Harold Lovell is challenging the prime minister’s decision not to open a public inquiry into the Odebrecht scandal.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne cited that there had been no corroborating allegations to carry out such a request.

Browne said he would not “waste tax payers money “on an “uncorroborated allegation” and that no one would “force” his government to carry out an inquiry, unless perhaps Lovell could provide evidence to corroborate that there was wrong-doing.

But Wednesday, Lovell confirmed to OBSERVER media that the opposition will be meeting with the governor general this Friday, to try to convince him to set up a commission of inquiry about the country’s involvement in the Brazilian-rooted Odebrecht scandal.

Lovell is adamant that a public inquiry is the best way to settle the many unanswered questions surrounding Antigua & Barbuda’s involvement.

He said, “Only a public inquiry can satisfy the local community and the international community that we’re a serious nation.”

The prime minister had previously said that the governor general, who by law is able to issue an inquiry if he believes that it affects the welfare of the public, “could not exercise executive authority under his leadership”.

 And as he has done several times recently, the prime minister announced that the island is run under “a form of ministerial government” and that the governor general is only a representative of the Queen.

Lovell however explained that the most important thing is to clear the country’s name by inquiring into all the circumstances and allowing “the chips to fall where they may”.

The scandal is being described by international media as the “World’s biggest bribery ring”, with payoffs reportedly made to presidents and high-level officials in 12 countries.

The Latin American construction firm is accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes to individuals in order to win lucrative infrastructural contracts and in exchange for a promise not to provide international authorities with banking records revealing these illicit payments.

 

(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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