Although his demands have been dismissed in recent days, the Senate Minority Leader Harold Lovell has the support of, among others, the former president of a transparency institute, who has joined the call for a public inquiry into the Odebrecht and Meinl Bank affair.
Member and former president of the Transparency Institute of Guyana, Calvin Bernard has argued that given the level of Antiguan entanglement in Odebrecht’s global bribery scheme “there is a need for a public enquiry” especially “if there is a public call for it to happen”.
International media and law enforcement report that the Meinl Bank Antigua Limited was used by Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht as far back as 2010 or 2011. In the United States, federal prosecutors detailed a scheme by Odebrecht agents to bribe an Antiguan official with US $4 million.
The bribe was allegedly arranged at a meeting in Miami in mid-2015 or in August of 2015. Bernard has also declared that Antigua’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Casroy James – who admitted to accepting funds from “affiliates of Meinl Bank” at a Miami meeting – should give proof that he has remitted the funds as he promised so to do.
“You can say anything. You’re making a statement to counteract another statement without providing any evidence. If you’re going to convince the public that the money has been returned you must provide some evidence to validate that,” Bernard said.
Lovell, too, came under the spotlight this week – but not for any allegation of wrongdoing. Prime Minister Gaston Browne castigated him in Parliament for two days, revealing documents which appeared to show that Lovell – a practicing attorney – once had a relationship with Meinl’s director Luiz Augusto Franca and or a company by the name of Fincastle Enterprises Limited..
(More in today’s Daily Observer)