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Probe into HIA Redevelopment Works by Robert Lindquist under Review

Hewanorra International Airport
Hewanorra International Airport

Added focus is now being directed to the Robert Lindquist investigations that was originally set up by the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration during its reign of power in the 2011 to 2016 term.

In 2012, a probe was commissioned by former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony into alleged misdeeds committed by some former United Workers Party (UWP) parliamentarians.

Since then, in an address to the nation on Sunday, Prime Minister Phillip Pierre reiterated his government’s intention to pursue the matter that began in 2009 concerning the awarding of contracts for redevelopment works at the Hewanorra International Airport (HIA).

However, former Gros Islet MP, Lenard “Spider” Montoute is taking a different view of the situation, arguing that the government is rather bent on conducting a political “witch hunt”. He said the prime minister in his New Year address, indicated that crime included peddling untruths and condemned deliberate lying by public officials, yet PM Pierre stated that the former UWP administration had stopped the investigations in 2016, after they took office.

And while Pierre contends that Lindquist was first retained in 2012 by the former Dr. Anthony–led regime to conduct the HIA redevelopment contract probe, Montoute said contrarily, Robert Linquist provided reasons for the stoppage in a letter dated December 7, 2020.

“Mr. Linquist in that letter indicated – and I quote: ‘Please note that whilst in the midst of this investigation, the former Prime Minister (referring to former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony) announced the 2016 elections of which I had no advance knowledge, which resulted in a halt in my work’,” Montoute told reporters at a news conference Thursday.

Again quoting Lindquist, he added: “Hence the resulting work product (…referring to the investigations) is incomplete.”

Montoute then took the nation’s leader to task, claiming that “if you are calling on people not to tell lies, you have to be honest yourself.”

Reports state that the probe cost the government at least $3 million, and the issue was a hot topic during the 2016 and 2021 election cycles.

He said former Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and his cabinet became aware of the probe when a payment was made to Lindquist.

Said the former Gros Islet MP, “The Prime Minister (Chastanet) as you would appreciate who also holds the portfolio of finance was not made aware of those proceedings and when he inquired, he was told that he was not informed because he was one of the subjects of the investigation.”

The other subjects of the investigation included former Prime Minister Stephenson King and current Castries Central MP Richard Frederick, both of whom are in the SLP cabinet, in addition to former Ministers Rufus Bousquet and Guy Joseph.

PM Pierre, in his New Year address Sunday, stated that continuing this investigation was consistent with the SLP government’s pledge to pursue good governance and anti-corruption policies.

“Mr. Lindquist will also be asked to investigate other matters of suspected misuse of public funds. In 2023, the results of several forensic investigations are expected to be completed and recommended action pursued,” he added.

Pierre further contends that the former UWP administration “was not interested in getting to the end of the report,” during their term in office.

Montoute, however, disputes that claim saying that Lindquist indicated he had not delivered a report to the government, since the exercise has not yet been completed.

“That was done and I am pleased to inform you under the instruction of the former Attorney General …that information is sitting at the Attorney General’s office,” he said.

While not accusing any specific administration, Montoute is taking a dim view of the issue which he feels reeks of political persecution as : “To date there are very few, if any results that we can point to that has justified the kind of expenditure that governments have undertaken in the name of the people of Saint Lucia.”

[R.A].

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