ST JOHN’S, Antigua, (Caribbean News Service) – Prime Minister Gaston Browne says he is prepared to “resign forthwith”, if allegations that a charity being run by his wife, has benefitted from public funds.
Speaking during the debate on the Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill 2017 that allows for amendments of various laws in order to strengthen the anti-money laundering, counter-financing of terrorism framework as well as the tax information exchange framework, Browne told legislators that if those making the allegations are able to bring “evidence of even one cent” he would step down.
Last month, the government said it would put more funds into the Venture Capital Fund in which Maria Browne would play a key role through her charity, Share Incorporated. It said the funds would be increased by more than double, moving from two million to five million dollars.
But opponents have argued that the move smacks of impropriety forcing Prime Minister Browne to tell the Parliament that operatives on OBSERVER Radio and the opposition-aligned Crusader Radio were also engaged in spreading the false claim.
Browne said that the detractors have also written to the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Financial Services Regulatory Commission and copied the international community to say he has “taken” public funds and placed them into the charity run by his wife.
“I have taken a decision now that I have to be very hard on them,” Prime Minister Browne said, threatening to pursue legal action.
He said the intention is not to stifle free speech but rather to “take money off of them and let it hurt”, otherwise the claims would continue.