The prime minister is being told to immediately sack his Sports Minister Paul Chet Greene amidst the Rio 2016 ticketing scandal, which has been at the forefront of the news in recent weeks.
Political Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell made the demand Thursday night, saying PM Gaston Browne needs to put his foot down as the country’s name is being brought into disrepute.
“It is clear his actions have brought not only the NOC, but the Ministry of Sports and by extension the government into disrepute. I think at best one would say he has exercised poor judgment in those circumstances.
“I think it is not only fit and proper for the president of the NOC to resign forthwith, but I am calling on the prime minister to also remove the portfolio of sports from the Honourable Chet Greene in light of all of these actions he has taken,” Lovell said.
Greene is accused of entering the NOC into an agreement with a company, World Sports &Hospitality (WSH), to resell Rio 2016 tickets against the directions of the organisers, International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The NOC president, who has previously denied wrongdoing, said he is pursuing an internal course of action to deal with the matter.
Documents obtained by OBSERVER media suggest that after Rio 2016 Ticketing rejected WSH as an ATR (Authorised Ticket Reseller), Greene accepted an offer by WSH President Howard Schwartz to continue the contract with a WSH affiliated company under the guise that the NOC would manage its own ticket affairs.
Documents show close to EC $200,000 passed hands before the arrangement fell apart, and according to the NOC Treasurer Neville Fenton, executive members accidentally found out about it and returned the funds.
Lovell said in light of all this, Cabinet should be condemned for putting the ball in Greene’s court.
“In the first place I cannot see how, in a situation like this, you fail to address it frontally and leave to the discretion of the individual,” he said.
The UPP political leader’s remarks followed the revelation by government spokesman Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst that Cabinet decided to let Minister Greene determine whether to resign as NOC president.
“The Cabinet, in collaboration with the minister, had this discussion Wednesday and it was determined that Chet Greene will take whatever decision he thinks is wisest, and in his best interest both as a politician and as a person who has done yeoman service in promoting Antigua & Barbuda,” Hurst told OBSERVER media.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)