Dr. Drew played no part in allegations levelled in the MSR lawsuit; “Can you imagine if I was named in this!”

(Long read article)

Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew has made it abundantly clear that he played no role in the circumstances which led to the MSR group and their boss, Philippe Martinez, filing a lawsuit that names several prominent actors in a Florida court. 

Dr. Drew’s comments resonate deeply as they were a direct jab at 2018 allegations made against former prime minister, Dr. Timothy Harris, in the early stages of an ongoing legal battle in the United Kingdom involving billionaire investor, Peter Virdee. 

Over the course of investigations into Virdee’s alleged illegal activities in a joint operation between German and UK authorities, 7 of 29 taped conversations between the investor and his business partner, Dieter Trutschler, mentioned Dr. Harris by name. In those tapes, Virdee made several shocking statements including that he had allegedly  given Dr. Harris a £2000 watch and expensive shoes. Virdee also alleged that Harris had asked him for money for his upcoming election campaign. 

Desperate legal attempts were made to keep the tapes out of the public record, however, London High Court judges, Lord Justice Holroyde and Mr. Justice Dingemens, dismissed Virdee and Trutschler’s applications to keep the telephone conversations recorded by German police from being admitted into evidence in another trial that was taking place.

Six years later, questions continue to be asked about why Dr. Harris would have accepted these gifts from the real estate mogul at the time he served as the federation’s prime minister.

It is known that around the same time Virdee had an interest in investing in renewable energy projects in the Caribbean.

Antiguan and Barbudan MP Asot Michael was also named in those tapes. While the allegations of wrongdoing on his part are still unproven in a court of law, that country’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, demanded Michael’s resignation from his cabinet until he had cleared himself of the accusations looming over him.

Fast forward to today, and Dr. Harris is named, along with several others, in the MSR lawsuit which makes allegations of corruption and fraud surrounding the Citizenship by Investments (CBI) shares that were allocated to raise capital for the prison project advanced by the former Unity administration.

With approximately 25,000 passports sold in connection with that project and millions of dollars raised, Dr. Harris’ administration still did not deliver on the prison.

Prime Minister Drew has made it clear that he is only mentioned in the judicial review and US lawsuit in his capacity as the country’s National Security minister, not as a result of any wrongdoing on his part. 

“I am not sued in any US or American court,” said Prime Minister Drew in a recent media appearance. “It is my position as the minister of National Security. That is where I come in. I have not received any money from anybody. They can search from up and down, left and right, which has been done. 

“My integrity on this matter is critically important. I have to protect the country and my integrity. Can you imagine if I was named in this? Just imagine if I was named in this! I think one of the saving grace of all of this is that I am not named,” said Dr. Drew. 

Dr. Drew brought his St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party to office in 2022 on a campaign platform built on integrity, accountability and transparency. Among the first legislation brought before the National Assembly by his new administration were the Anti-Corruption Bill, 2023, the Integrity in Public Life (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill, 2023. Each of these were designed to hold individuals in senior government or public positions accountable for their actions.

“Integrity in Public Life, Freedom of Information, Anti-Corruption hold us responsible or accountable rather. If it’s one thing I would say, Madame Speaker, is that in my political life, this would be one of the things that I would always remember. I think this would bear a lot of fruits in setting the foundation to really create the new St. Kitts and Nevis going forward,” Prime Minister Dr. Drew said in February 2023 in the National Assembly upon the passage of these pieces of legislation.

“I am very proud of what happened tonight. If it’s one thing that I think I would consider a great accomplishment is that we have accomplished in less than seven months something that had been contemplated for many, many decades—integrity in public life,”

Since then, Dr. Drew and his administration have implemented further measures to prevent bad actors – now and in the future – from abusing positions of power for corrupt means. This included a reform of the CBI programme which Drew says has placed St. Kitts and Nevis in an excellent position to recover from this latest obstacle as his government has proven its commitment to good governance.

“We introduced criminalisation for anybody who would have undersold, or who would have misrepresented the true cost, of our citizenship by investment. So, we did not wait on anybody to do that. That is why we are ahead of the game,” said Prime Minister Drew at his 31st May edition of The Round Table. 

 “I think at the beginning people did not fully comprehend [what we were doing]… because it was not so clear and apparent at that particular time, but in the course of time, I think people have come to understand why I said it was challenging, why I was so aggressive in looking at the CBI, in making the changes that were necessary,” he said.

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