Freeland reportedly robbed of state funds

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Three weeks after it was revealed that Michael Freeland was dropped as a potential Labour Party candidate because of the disappearance of government funds in his possession, it has been disclosed that he was the victim of a burglary.
Freeland was working as an auctioneer with the Customs/Port Authority. The issue about the monies arose in the course of his duty in recent months.
It resurfaced at Monday’s senate sitting during debate on the Customs (Control and Management) (Amendment) Bill, which includes a provision on the collection of revenues from auctions.
Opposition senator Chester Hughes called for the matter to be clarified before lambasting the government for its handling of the issue.
“In any honest and real society … either the controller of Customs would have been dismissed because he failed to collect what he was supposed to collect. The auctioneer would have been arrested because he failed to hand in what he was supposed to hand in, Madame President, because this is public funds,” Hughes declared.
The leader of government business in the house, Lennox Weston, interjected at that time, stating that he could not allow any “imputation of bad motive” to his colleague.
“The colleague, Senator Freeland, is an auctioneer, and he did an auction,” said Weston. “The very night of collecting the [proceeds], he reported a break-in in his vehicle to the police … $160,000 was stolen. And he went the next day and made arrangements to pay back the sums in three tranches, and he has been meeting those requirements in a very straightforward manner.”
According to Weston, he believes there is one more payment to be made on the amount.
“There was nothing hanky-panky. There was no cover-up. There’s nothing illegal. It is a straightforward matter in terms of a transaction,” he added.
Following Weston’s statements, Hughes rose again and said he had further questions on the matter. But Senate President Alincia Williams-Grant shut him down, stating the house debate was not the place to get personal.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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