By Latrishka Thomas
Foreign Affairs Minister EP Chet Greene has categorically denied that Prime Minister Gaston Browne either directly or indirectly interfered in a Customs investigation regarding allegations that his signature was forged.
On Wednesday, Political Leader of the United Progressive Party, Harold Lovell, suggested that the investigation had not been not handed over to the police.
“So the forgery issue now, the police don’t know anything about that and I am challenging any member of government and when your minister comes tomorrow, I want you to make a note, ask him if the matter of the forgery has been referred to the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda,” Lovell told Observer radio referring to an upcoming radio interview scheduled with Greene.
Yesterday Greene responded, telling Observer that the PM never instructed the Comptroller of Customs, Raju Boddu, to stop the investigation.
“So whether it is the Prime Minister or a line minister, those matters are to be dealt with by the head of the department and so the Prime Minister is quite correct that no instruction was ever given by him for Mr Boddu not to pursue this matter,” he said.
The investigation into the alleged forgery of Browne’s signature, which relates to a reported Customs fraud topping more than $3 million, is said to be ongoing.
In July, the Prime Minister disclosed that a well known broker had been interviewed.
Lovell said that he believes that the broker will be “throw[n] under the bus”.
“They have referred to the police the matter to do with the broker who is known or it is alleged that he did certain things and certain companies and corporations in Antigua suffered loss as a result of his actions…for the poor broker they are going to throw him under the bus. They have no sympathy for him,” Lovell claimed.
Police spokesman Inspector Frankie Thomas told Observer that police had received certain documentation from Customs relating to an ongoing investigation but could not confirm if they related to the purported fraud.