The release of a Royal Court of Justice Order in a suit involving accused VAT fraudster Peter Singh Virdee revealed that Antigua Minister Asot Michael was detained by the National Crime Agency for a day while being interrogated over allegations of violations of the Bribery Act after Michael was implicated.
Michael, who is also reportedly linked to missing two hundred blank Antigua & Barbuda passports, which are the subject of ongoing criminal investigations in Antigua and St Vincent, has denied any involvement, and disparaged Virdee, after first stating that he would not comment. Michael has previously been linked to suspicious payments but was not charged with a crime.
Virdee secretly recorded many telephone conversations with Caribbean leaders, and transcripts of some were included in the court order. Other conversations have appeared in the media which implicate senior government officials in both Antigua and St Kitts, and whether the damage those disclosures inflict on their careers will be serious, and permanent, depends upon the voters of those countries.
The absolute arrogance displayed by the government officials that allegedly solicited bribes, kickbacks and gifts are not only vile and disgusting, it is evidence of a culture of corruption that takes advantage of the trust those who elected them into office placed upon them. Some individuals in the Government of Antigua obviously knew about Michael's misconduct, yet remained silent. This speaks volumes about the culture of corruption in Antigua.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant