Freeland resigns, but does he come clean?

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Senator Michael Freeland announced his resignation from the Upper House last night in a two-page document amid a prolonged Customs money scandal, but nowhere in that document, does he explain what really happened with the cash he had in his possession.
His resignation, according to his announcement, would take effect on December 31, 2017. Prime Minister Gaston Browne last night confirmed he has accepted Freeland’s resignation.
It was in early November this year that OBSERVER media broke the news that an investigation was ongoing into the matter in which Freeland immediately failed to turn over $119,866.50 of state funds to the Customs Division.
He had obtained the money in his personal capacity as an auctioneer for the Customs Division and for months, he did not hand it over. A top official from the Customs Division had gotten the police involved when efforts to get the money repaid within the agreed timelines were not met.
Freeland made no mention of any of this, he did not disclose the exact sum which was reported to our newsroom by Customs Comptroller Raju Boddu.
Freeland also did not confirm or deny, whether he had reported the incident to the police, as was indicated last month by his colleague Senator Lennox Weston.
While Freeland has been silent until now, and PM Browne on Monday, said the matter was “settled,” Senator Weston has been the only one to offer some information when he told the public, through the senate last month, that Freeland left over $100,000 in his vehicle and someone broke into it and stole it all.
In breaking his silence last night, Freeland said that opposition parties have been suggesting there was some impropriety on his part with respect to the money.
OBSERVER media has repeatedly asked the question as to why the Senator left the auction with the cash, and further why was it in his car, unattended.
The explanation he offered in his statement was that, “There was no impropriety in this matter and that the Customs Department was advised of circumstances beyond my control which prevented me from handing-over the proceeds of the auction immediately and in full.”
He did not detail what those circumstances were but he added, “Following discussions with the Customs Department, it was agreed that I would make full payment in installments in an approved timeframe. Contrary to allegations made by my political protagonists, I am pleased to state categorically that I have made payment in full and to the satisfaction of the Customs Department.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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