Prominent Lawyer Sides With PM Browne

Prime Minister Gaston Browne (OBSERVER media photo)

A prominent lawyer has come out on the side of the Prime Minister Gaston Browne, after Browne denied having any discussion with Odebrecht about its illicit activity in Antigua.

The allegation against the Prime Minister surfaced in sworn testimony given in Brazil by Luiz Augusto Franca,

Franca said that Odebrecht wanted the government not to cooperate with Brazilian investigations into its corrupt activity but that at a meeting between the prime minister and Odebrecht executive Luiz Eduardo Soares this was NOT clearly expressed.

But attorney at law Anthony Astaphan says Browne would have had no authority to instruct anyone to withhold information.

 

The testimony by Franca was given in July as Brazilian investigations into an international bribery scheme by the conglomerate Odebrecht continue.

Franca alleges that he put an employee of Odebrecht, Luiz Eduardo Soares, in contact with Casroy James.

He further alleges that Ambassador Casroy James presented the two men to the Prime Minister in September 2016 and the Odebrecht employee, Soares, told the prime minister of Odebrecht’s illicit operations in Antigua through the Meinl Bank.

On Thursday, Browne flatly denied that any such conversation took place.

 

Browne says he has never made any attempts to hinder cooperation with the overseas investigations.

In another instance, US court documents recently alleged that a government official of Antigua accepted 3 million euros from a representative of Odebrecht to secure a deal not to cooperate with Brazilian investigations.

Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Casroy James admitted to accepting the money but says it was paid legitimately for his services as a CIP agent. He agreed to repay the sum he received.

He says the money was paid to him by the Meinl Bank.