Lovell: Gaston, Cabinet to blame for fraudster slipping through cracks

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United Progressive Party Leader Harold Lovell has condemned the government for failing to realize that a known fraudster, Dieter Trutschler, was involved with PV Energy.
Lovell says the blame lies with Gaston Browne and the members of his Cabinet who Lovell says must take full responsibility for the lapse in due diligence.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Gaston Browne and Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin said they had no idea that the man, Trutschler, was caught up is an energy company scandal in 2002 in another country, was working with the company.
But Lovell says this failure is a direct result of the expressed policy of the Gaston Browne administration of, side-lining the Antigua and Barbuda Invest Authority, and making investors deal with ministers directly.

In 2014 Gaston Browne said his government wanted to disband the investment authority and accused some who worked there of shaking down investors for money.
As a result, the government indefinitely refused to reconstitute the authority’s board.
In 2016, the authority was brought under the control of then Investment and Energy Minister Asot Michael. Last week, allegations surfaced that Michael was shaking down investors himself for gifts and kickbacks. He has denied the allegations.
Peter Virdee and Dieter Trutschler are the men Michael is alleged to have approached. Virdee is the principal of PV Energy and Trutschler is now known to be an employee.
Trutschler’s involvement with the company came to light in the same UK court judgement which also contained allegations that Asot Michael asked both men for kickbacks.
Lovell is renewing a call he made earlier this week for an immediate and complete audit of government contracts and negotiations with PV Energy.

United progressive Party Leader Harold Lovell.

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