Basseterre, St. Kitts, 16th May, 2018 (MyVueNews.com) – Following the resignation of Asot Michael, the former Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Investment and Trade, Prime Minister Gaston Browne will wait for the outcome of future UK Court proceedings to guide his further actions.
This position is according to a media report from the Antigua Observer news in which it quotes Prime Minister Browne as saying, “This is not a new issue. The matter is still before the court and I’m not in a position to pronounce on his innocence or guilt.”
Additionally, the news report further quotes Brown, “We have to allow for due process and we’ll see how this matter advances, and if it is that he is found guilty of a bribe or attempted bribe, I’ll have to reconsider whether or not he should serve in the government.”
Ascot Michael resigned from the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda on 15th May, 2018, after a UK court hearing revealed possible bribery circumstances with UK business tycoon Peter Virdee.
It is important to note, however, that Michael has denied any wrong doing. In a statement to Antigua media, he said, “I emphasize that I am not a party to the court proceedings in the United Kingdom, which have been reported in the media, nor have I been charged with any wrongdoing. The media reports refer to recordings of conversations between persons other than myself, and I cannot be held responsible for their utterances.”
On Friday, 11th May, excerpts of telephone conversations emerged as part of the judge’s findings in the case involving Virdee vs the National Crime Agency of the UK.
These transcripts exposed conversations between Virdee and his business partner concerning politicians in at least three Caribbean countries – Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Lucia.
Michael was detained for a short period in the UK in relation to a bribery investigation being pursued by the UK National Crime Agency.
He was immediately fired from his ministry by Prime Minister Browne. Now, after the recent General Elections, Michael was appointed to a new ministry only to face this new development.
Meanwhile, Michael said his resignation is motivated by his quest to protect the country’s name, the reputation of the party, as political opposition parties use the situation for their advantage.
He is quoted as saying, “I have not worked so diligently over the last 21 years for the advancement of Antigua and Barbuda, and in support of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP), to allow the reputation and standing of the nation and the party to be tarnished by political actors who are determined [to] pull down the government and the party by besmirching me. The nation of Antigua and Barbuda and the [ABLP] government remain of first and foremost importance to me.”