Official silence on auction scandal

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Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, the attorney general, has added his name to the growing list of public officials who say they are ignorant of the details surrounding the Freeland auction scandal or who have demonstrated indifference toward the glaring controversy.
When called on, Saturday Benjamin declared that he could not comment as he did not “know the facts” and did not wish to “comment incorrectly.” He said, “Whatever the prime minister indicates, that is the position of the government.”
Based on that statement from the attorney general, it appears as though the government has taken no position on the scandal whatsoever for the last month and a half.
Gaston Browne, prime minister, who revealed the matter to the public in early November, has added virtually nothing beyond saying “[Freeland] did an auction, and the monies remain unpaid.”
Since then it has been confirmed that Michael Freeland, a senator and an auctioneer, failed to surrender $119,866.50 in proceeds to the Customs and Excise Division and Raju Boddu, comptroller of Customs allowed Freeland to repay the money over an unspecified period.
Meanwhile, the police have been unable to locate a supposed report made by Freeland to the police that would substantiate the only explanation that has thus far been offered for Freeland’s failure to surrender the government’s money – that it was stolen from him.
On December 5, 2017, Wendell Robinson, commissioner of police told OBSERVER media that he could not recall that Freeland had filed such a report but he would check to verify whether or not the senator had done so.
Since then, the commissioner of police has been unavailable for comment. He has not answered or returned telephone calls, and has ignored electronic messages – from this journalist – asking him to verify whether or not any such report was filed. Two weeks have passed.
Boddu has flatly refused to be open about the details of the scandal which took place within his department and the prime minister has seemingly not seen it fit to publicly unearth how $119,866.50 went unaccounted for within a department of his ministry and unpaid for some time into the government’s coffers.
As it stands, the public has been starved of information from official sources, including the commissioner of police, the comptroller of customs, the prime minister and minister of finance, the attorney general, and Freeland, the man at the centre of the scandal.
As recently as Saturday, Freeland did not answer a call made to him, did not return the call and ignored electronic messages sent to him asking for an explanation of why he failed to surrender the government’s money.

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