PM Browne tells reporter, ‘Yuh pass yuh place!’

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Gaston Browne, prime minister and minister of finance continues to claim ignorance of the details surrounding the auction scandal that unfolded in his ministry, even as Michael Freeland, the senator at the heart of the scandal has given notice that he will resign.
Browne continues to say that he is the wrong person to answer questions about what happened. He contends that they should be answered by Freeland, the senator whom Browne has yet to compel to reveal why $119,866.50 collected by Freeland after an auction went “unpaid” to the state’s coffers. “Go put that question to him. You can’t put that question to me. You pass yuh place!” the prime minister told this reporter yesterday.
He was asked what actually became of the auction proceeds which Freeland failed to surrender immediately to the Customs and Excise Division reportedly after an auction a year ago. Thus far, no one has been able to say whether the money was or was not in Freeland’s possession at and after the time at which he failed to surrender the sum to Customs. “Those details can be had from Mr. Michael Freeland,” Browne said again.
In November, Senator Lennox Weston claimed that Freeland was robbed of the money and reported it to the police, an account which Wendel Robinson, commissioner of police, has not confirmed or denied for more than two weeks since being asked to do so. On Monday, the day before Freeland gave notice of his resignation effective December 31, Browne told this reporter via email that the senator had paid back the $119,866.50, and therefore as far as he, the prime minister, was concerned, it was a “settled” issue.
Freeland gave notice of his resignation, and then, at Wednesday’s event, the prime minister said that OBSERVER media had “hounded” the senator and made the scandal into “a big issue.” Pressed for further details he repeatedly ignored queries and asked, “What more do you want?” Browne was taking questions during the Cabinet’s Report for the year 2017 – a live press event at which government minister’s present on the progress of their ministries and answer questions from reporters and the public.
Nowhere in Freeland’s 600-word December 19 press statement did he ever explain what caused him to be unable to surrender the auction money to the government. Nowhere in the 600-word press statement did the senator choose to confirm or deny whether Weston’s version of events which caused him to be unable to surrender the funds, was true.
He spoke at length about perceived attempts by the political opposition to tarnish his character over the issue and “impugn improper behaviour” and “politicise” the scandal but provided no further information than that which was already public.

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