Sir Ronald’s attorneys have said he is willing to give the police an interview in connection with the Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Company Ltd (IHI) Japan debt settlement US$14 million dollar scandal.
Three days ago police issued a public statement, saying all efforts to reach Sir Ronald had been unsuccessful. The bulletin also requested the public’s assistance in locating him.
“Sir Ronald is willing to answer questions from the Antigua police that are properly put to him,” a statement from BCL Burton Copeland, a law firm representing the former High Commissioner read.
BCL, the UK firm of solicitors, provides specialist advice and representation nationally and internationally in the areas of commercial fraud, business crime, regulatory enforcement, serious and general crime, dispute resolution and regulatory compliance.
The firm, in a communiqué, said it deplores the police’s “absurd” statement because Sir Ronald is “a regional commentator whose website and means of contact appears weekly throughout the Caribbean. Further, he appears regularly on television and the radio and he is active on the international stage.”
The lawyers representing the former Antigua Labour (ALP) official wrote, “the language of the (police) statement and subsequent statements are both defamatory and wrong in describing legal process in matters such as this.”
Sir Ronald KCMG (Guyana) is an international consultant and writer and has served in the private sector on the board of directors of media, telecommunications, banking and sustainable forestry companies in Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Barbados and Guyana.
Sir Ronald’s work in Antigua & Barbuda spanned approximately 20 years under the ALP administration until the party lost the general elections in 2004.
Sir Ronald, former prime minister Lester Bird, former junior finance minister Asot Michael and others are named as persons of interest to the IHI probe. The investigation seeks to ascertain whether and/or how several individuals misappropriated US$14 million under the guise of repaying a loan that financed the construction of a desalination plant.
Patrick A Michael & Co Ltd and Josett Michael were also identified as persons of interest.
According to the police, “persons of interest” were determined “based on the contents of a report that was done by financial forensic investigator Robert Lindquist, which was corroborated by preliminary police enquiries.”
The team investigating the suspected fraud indicated that most of the named persons have already co-operated with investigators.
On Tuesday, attorney Sanjeev Datadin was sworn in as a special constable in the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda, to assist with the IHI and other commercial fraud matters.