ST JOHN’S – Prime Minister Gaston Browne has responded to questions about his rising personal wealth raised by leader of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell at a political rally last week.
“One of the first things that I did as prime minister was to disclose all of my assets and my liabilities,” noted Browne. “It is well known that I have been involved in various projects and various companies as an investor, even as prime minister I continue to invest, even though I’m not a director of any of those companies,” he added.
Lovell, speaking at a UPP rally, last Thursday, said Browne was living well while the people he represents are struggling, and questioned how he came about his wealth.
“In 12 short months you have found yourself in a position that you can be owning a yacht costing over US $250,000 on the salary of a prime minister in Antigua & Barbuda,” alleged Lovell. “When you up and down looking work and when you trying to scratch to see what you can get to eat, he and his friends every weekend once they’re in Antigua, they gone cruising on that yacht. The name of the yacht is Interlude II,” he added.
Observer media caught up with Browne at the sidelines of the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in Barbados where he gave a brief response to the opposition allegations.
“It is true that a company in which I’m a shareholder is actually the owner of a charter boat in which they intend to do yacht charters,” Browne said.
Lovell also claimed that Browne owns a Lincoln Navigator worth $450,000 and bought land in Jolly Harbour worth over $600,000. Browne admitted there is some truth to both allegations but made no mention of the cost.
“I am an owner of an SUV, A17 which I bought while as leader of the opposition, I would have been involved in several companies that have invested tens of millions in the country,” said Browne.
“The last project which I embarked upon was the development of the Ebenezer project and, so far, to date we would have invested in excess of $10 million in that project; the majority of it was invested while in opposition,” he said.
”I’ve also obtained a loan, well not me, but a company I am associated with has obtained a loan from Global Bank of Commerce of a few hundred thousand dollars of which we have purchased a piece of land at Jolly Harbour,” said Browne.
Political analyst Peter Wickham noted the fact Browne has declared his assets should save him from scrutiny and any allegations of impropriety until the next election.