ST. KITTS – NEVIS – The opposition Leader Dr.Denzil Douglas remains mum with regards to the high profile recent arrest of Antigua MP Asot Micheal. Micheal who is a well known close associate of Dr. Denzil Douglas and the SKN Opposition Labour Party, flew into Gatwick Airport, south of London, when investigators from the UK’s National Crime Agency picked him up..
Michael, who has lead responsibility for Antigua and Barbuda’s citizenship by investment (CBI) programme, was reportedly en route to Cannes, France to speak at a CBI conference when he was detained and arrested. Within hours Prime Minister of Antigua-Barbuda Gaston Browne advised the Governor-General of Antigua to immediately revoke the appointment of Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism and Investment, pending the outcome of his arrest Monday morning by the London Metropolitan Police.
Micheal was at the center of a political furor back in 2012 when it was revealed that he was a member of a St.Kitts-Nevis Delegation headed by then Prime Minister Douglas that travelled to India . The trip and the presence of Micheal in the delegation raised eyebrows as the Indian media identified Micheal as the Foreign Minister of St.Kitts-Nevis while yet another Asian media outlet described Micheal as the Foreign Affairs Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
At the time Micheal was an Antiguan Opposition MP and certainly not a Foreign Affairs Minister of St.Kitts-Nevis. The foreign affairs Minister of SKN was then Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Sam Condor.
Questions were raised to the purpose of Micheal’s presence as a member of a St.Kitts-Nevis delegation to India . In 2012 Former St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Government Minister Dwyer Astaphan in his weekly column questioned Micheal’s presence in an Op-Ed he entitled “BUSTED IN INDIA”. Astaphan asked “Who paid for Mr. Michael’s ticket? Who put him up and fed him in India and along the way there and back? Was it the Government of India? And if so, will India feel that it’s been taken for a ride by our Prime Minister Douglas and his sidekick? Will India now seek an apology from Dr. Douglas and look to make an apology of its own to the Government of Antigua & Barbuda? If it’s the Government of St. Kitts & Nevis that paid to get Mr. Michael to India and back, why? And how much money belonging to the taxpayers of St. Kitts & Nevis, in cash and kind, has Denzil Douglas spent on Asot Michael to date?”
Micheal was again at the center of some controversy when in 2012 he was among a number of close friends and associates who raised a toast to then PM Dr Denzil Douglas on his appointment to Her Majesty’s Privy Council. Micheal raised a toast and indicated that he spoke on behalf of the Prime Minister and People of Antigua-Barbuda in congratulating Dr Douglas on his appointment.
Almost immediately following then Prime Minister of Antigua-Barbuda Hon. Baldwin Spencer issued a statement which categorically stated that Micheal did not and had not the authority to speak on behalf of the Prime Minister Spencer and the people of Antigua.
The statement in part read: It has come to the attention of the Office of the Prime Minister of a paid political advertisement in the Daily Observer Newspaper dated February 17, 2012 appearing on page 6 which attributed certain statements to Prime Minister the Hon. W. Baldwin Spencer.
The paid political Advertisement which is an apparent address issued by MP Asot Michael as a Toast in the United Kingdom to Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas of Saint Kitts and Nevis on his appointment to Her Majesty’s Privy Council, outlined that he spoke on behalf of the Honourable Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
The Office of the Prime Minister would like to disassociate itself from that paid political advertisement and advises that the Member of Parliament for St. Peter, Asot Michael, does not speak for or on the behalf of the Honourable Prime Minister W. Baldwin Spencer.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda’s official spokesperson in the United Kingdom is High Commissioner to the Court of St. James, His Excellency Dr. Carl Roberts.
The Office of the Prime Minister wishes to advise that on December 15, 2011 the Honourable Prime Minister personally sent his congratulations in writing to the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas on his appointment to Her Majesty’s Privy Council.
The Office of the Prime Minister views the statement as political posturing by the Opposition MP and would communicate in writing its dissatisfaction with his actions.”
Prime Minister Gaston Browne told local media on Friday that the arrest of Micheal is a serious one. PM Browne said “I was told by the high commissioner that he was actually arrested on a serious issue…we were told it was not a frivolous arrest, that it was a serious matter, that the international police, INTERPOL and the metropolitan police [were] actually following. And, I also understand that it included the local police as well. And, as a result of certain information they would have gathered, that is what led to this action.”
PM Browne added “I was told by the high commissioner that he was actually arrested on a serious issue…we were told it was not a frivolous arrest, that it was a serious matter, that the international police, INTERPOL and the metropolitan police [were] actually following. And, I also understand that it included the local police as well. And, as a result of certain information they would have gathered, that is what led to this action,” Browne revealed.
PM Browne added “My understanding is that former minister Michael was arrested for conspiracy to bribe. My understanding is that the bribe action may not have taken place and this is what I have been told – conspiracy to bribe involving a U.K. national.”
SKN Opposition Leader and close friend and associate of Asot Micheal, Dr. Denzil Douglas has remained mum on the recent arrest and subsequent stripping of Ministerial Duties by the Antigua -Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne. Both Micheal and Douglas have on numerous occasions in public forums and addresses declared their long-standing friendship and association. Which makes the silence of Opposition Leader Doouglas on the matter even more puzzling.