The Asot Michael Scandal can affect aid assistance

Antigua Observer:  

The head of an organisation against corruption said the country’s ability to seek donor funding could be impacted because of the latest allegations of corruption involving former government minister Asot Michael.

Akaash Maharaj, who is the chief executive officer of the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), said the country has come to rely on donor agencies in times of need.

“I can tell you conclusively there is no government in the developed world and there is no international institution in the world that would be enthusiastic about providing international aid to a country if they are afraid that much of that aid is going to end up in the pockets of corrupt political actors,” he said.

Following the passage of Hurricane Irma, the country appealed for regional and international assistance for Barbuda after the sister isle was ravaged by the Category five plus storm, which destroyed many of the buildings and claimed the life of a toddler.

Maharaj said that Antigua and Barbuda, classified as a developing nation, could be victimised by international countries.

“This matter has to be resolved because if it isn’t resolved, not only has the country been victimised in the past and has not received justice, but, there will also be ongoing victimisation of the country because other people and international institutions will not wish to give the country aid and other international businesses would be reluctant to invest and that would cause a downward spiral,” he said

Asot Michael, the member of parliamentary for St. Peter, resigned from his post as investment and trade minister last week after a U.K. court ruling over alleged bribery in Caribbean contracts, something in which he claims he was a part of.

Transcripts of recorded conversations revealed that a British businessman Peter Virdee alleged that Michael demanded kickbacks, a car and financing for his political campaign.

Michael, who vowed to use all available resource to fight the allegations, still retains the substantive position of MP. Michael was elected and can only be removed should he choose to step down as MP.

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