Antigua & Barbuda minister of tourism, economic development investment and energy Ascot Michael has been arrested by the MET Police and suspended by his PM. (Facebook image)
News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Tues. Oct. 24, 2017: A Caribbean-born minister of tourism, economic development investment and energy has had his appointment revoked hours after his arrest in London.
Guadeloupe-born, Antigua & Barbuda minister, Asot Michael’s suspension and arrest was announced by the country’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne Monday.
Browne said he advised his Governor General to immediately revoke the appointment of Michael after receiving news from his high commissioner in London, Karen-Mae Hill, of the minister’s arrest by the Metropolitan Police upon his arrival in the UK Monday.
Reports indicate Mae Hill was informed of the arrest of Michael by the British Foreign Office.
PM Browne said he did not have any “firm details of the reasons for Mr. Michael’s arrest” but he said “the arrest itself is sufficient for me to revoke immediately his appointment as a Cabinet member and to relieve him of all Ministerial portfolios until this matter is resolved.”
Michael was reportedly en route to Cannes to speak at a Citizenship By Investment conference at the time of his arrest.
As of late yesterday, the Antigua Observer reported Michael was released from custody after 4 p.m. local time but “has been advised he may be wanted for further questioning.” He is reportedly being represented by U.K lawyer James Guthrie, according to the paper.
On social media rumors many speculated as to why the minister was arrested and whether it was related to money laundering or the arrest in January 2017 of Peter Singh Virdee, a British businessman arrested for tax fraud.
Michael, 48, who comes from a wealthy family in Antigua & Barbuda, has held the St. Peter constituency for the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party since 2004. He previously served as Chief-of-Staff to former Prime Minister Lester Bird before becoming Minister of Public Works, Communications and Energy and later Minister of Finance and Leader of Government Business in the Senate in the Bird administration. He has been minister of tourism, economic development investment and energy in the Browne administration since 2015.