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Hilaire, Chastanet Square Off Again

Three years after initially rearing its head, investigations into a vehicle brought into Saint Lucia from England by Saint Lucia’s former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Ernest Hilaire are still not resolved. In fact, a new development in the case, which occurred two weeks ago, has thrust the matter once again into the spotlight.

Castries South MP Dr Ernest Hilaire
Castries South MP Dr Ernest Hilaire

Hilaire, who is the Castries South parliamentarian is the claimant in a defamation lawsuit he has against Prime Minister Allen Chastanet involving that vehicle – a 2014 Land Rover Sport. It has been the belief of the government, over the past three years that Hilaire, as the High Commissioner, used public funds to purchase the vehicle, allegations Hilaire has repeatedly denied both in parliament, outside parliament and on social media.

The new development in the matter is a new affidavit filed in the High Court by Chastanet, the defendant in the case. Chastanet had filed affidavits in the case before, however, this new one, he noted, has additional matters that came to his attention.

The prime minister, in essence, accuses Hilaire of VAT fraud if Hilaire indeed purchased the vehicle with his own funds, adding that Hilaire defrauded the United Kingdom Government by Hilaire assuming to himself a privilege that is afforded to the Saint Lucia High Commission.

The prime minister, in his new affidavit, stated he was informed by his attorneys-at-law and verily believes that Hilaire’s actions relating to getting the Land Rover Sport from the United Kingdom into Saint Lucia and out of the clutches of the Customs and Excise Department amounted to offences under sections 404, 408, 409 and 75 of the Criminal Code of Saint Lucia as well as section 30 of the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act Cap 12.20.

Hilaire took to Facebook to respond to Chastanet accusing the prime minister of a number of things, noting in general that Chastanet’s latest affidavit in the High Court has nothing to do with the case.

Said Hilaire, “Last week Allen Chastanet filed an affidavit in the High Court… He claims he has evidence that I defrauded the UK Government and engaged in money laundering in the purchase of my vehicle. Nothing could be further from the truth…”

Hilaire, in his affidavit, filed 3 September, 2018 said he purchased the vehicle with his own funds in the sum of 26,756.16 pounds sterling. The vehicle’s purchase was done by Tafawa Williams on Hilaire’s be-half with monies Hilaire transferred to Williams as evidenced by a bank statement contained within the affidavit. He said the vehicle was received by the High Commission by Verne Augustin signing on behalf of the High Commission.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet

“At this time, I had ended my tour of duty and all personal goods were to be shipped to me by the High Commission on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Hilaire noted in his affidavit, adding that Chastanet’s allegations that the vehicle was never paid for by him was manifestly absurd, an abuse of the court’s process, is vexatious, irrelevant to the issues and is designed to cause harm to his reputation.

Both sides filed certificates of exhibits to back up claims made in their respective affidavits.

This is not the first civil case both gentlemen have where one is the claimant and the other is the defendant. Hilaire had before filed a lawsuit against Chastanet for defamation in a matter having to do with the sale of diplomatic passports. That matter is still before the Court.

At this time, no date has been set for the hearing of the case and it is only at the hearing that the full facts will emerge.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

1 Comment

  1. It is the dawn of the Silly Season and the game that the boys play, this one
    without a Bat and a Ball, no Umpire and no spectators as yet, but many do
    make inquire with itching ears; some sport out of season, in season, no season.

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