Former PM says buses were not a government to government donation

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Former prime minister Baldwin Spencer says three buses donated by the government of South Korea “were not considered property of the government of Antigua and Barbuda directly,” as the trial of three former ministers accused of embezzlement continues here on Wednesday.

Spencer, 73, who led the United Progressive party (UPP) to victory in the 2004 general elections and served as the country’s third prime minister until 2014, told the High Court that “it was not a situation where the request for this endeavour was to be a government to government.

“That clearly was not the arrangement,” he added.

Former education minister Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro, former finance minister and how UPP leader, Harold Lovell and former deputy prime minister, Wilmoth Daniel, are on trial accused of corruption, conversion and embezzlement involving the acquisition of three 2008 Daewoo buses estimated at EC$600,000 allegedly donated to the government here by the South Korean government.

The trio, who all served in Spencer’s administration, were charged in October 2019, two years after Magistrate Conliffe Clarke dismissed the case. They have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The prosecution is alleging that while they were in public office, the trio converted the buses for their personal use and had them registered at the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board in their names.

During the trial on Tuesday, three insurance representatives testified that the former cabinet ministers had insured one bus at each of their companies.

But, Spencer, who was also the foreign affairs minister at the time of the “donation” said in his sworn testimony that he, the late ambassador John Ashe had held a side meeting with then Ambassador of South Korea at an event to discuss the need for buses in communities on the island.

Spencer told the Court that he did not allocate the buses nor was it a Cabinet decision because “it was not a situation where the request for this endeavour was to be a government to government”.

He said that Ashe, a former president of the United National General Assembly, who died in New York in June 2016, had organised, negotiated and made most of the decisions in this regard.

Asked by attorney Anesta Weekes QC, representing Lovell, whether he understood that the buses were specifically donated to the government of Antigua and Barbuda, Spencer replied with a resounding “no.

“It was felt certainly by me that the whole question of transportation in communities, there was a need for it, and so the whole idea was to put arrangements in place for that to happen and to have the parliamentary representatives for the various communities be the custodians of these buses,” he added.

Spencer said the parliamentary representatives were to be given the buses because “it was part of his or her responsibility to provide a service to the community and to that extent to coordinate whatever has to be done to facilitate that arrangement.

“The understanding was that the parliamentary rep will put the necessary mechanisms in place to make sure that the buses were licensed, the buses were insured and over time the buses were maintained.”

Attorney Dame Hamilton QC, who is representing Quinn-Leandro inquired into why one bus was earmarked for his client’s constituency and Spencer replied “it was a situation where a request would have been made by the parliamentary representative”.

On Tuesday, an employee of the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board disclosed documents showing that the buses were registered in the names of the three accused.

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40 COMMENTS

  1. So let me see if I get this straight…South Korea made a personal donation to Jacqui, Lovell and Wilmoth??? wow! They must all be well known among the people of South Korea.

  2. what a forked tonged corrupt . He oversaw the thieving of the peoples property and now trying to convince the court that the korean government gave buses to the UPP. This is so outrageous from a man that convinced us that the ALP was corrupt in 2004. I am so hurt over these revelations because i voted for him in 2004. this bald liar should also be on trial. i hope they all go to jail!

  3. Since when does the government of a foreign country sends gifts to INDIVIDUALS in far away countries??? Wilmoth Daniel et al were personal friends of the South Korean president??? Whatever the outcome of this court case, the court of public opinion will forever etch their names on the wrong side of history. Especially, Jackie Quinn-Leandro. Shame on you girl! Didn´t your mother teach you not to follow multitude to go do evil? Leave the other 2 old big hard toarn men to dirty their names, but you know better!

  4. Call in the Government of South Korea to determine if this was or was not a government to government gift. They will be able to answer that. Does anyone out there really believe that the Koeans gave these buses as “gifts” to INDIVIDUALS??? That’s a new one. Some people would likely conclude that would be some kind of a bribe, but I don’t believe for one minute that this is the truth. The Koreans can tell us. Call in the Korean ambassador to find out the TRUTH.

  5. Maybe Mr. Daniel donated proceeds from the “pole activities” back into the community.

    Where is Charles Tabor to explain this?

  6. Maybe PM Spencer has nothing to lose at this point. He’s no longer in office.
    John Ashe messed up his legacy.
    He’s made no memorable lasting contribution to Antigua
    He got no Parliamentary approval for the blood-in-hotel-lobby “new” engines
    His ministers disrespected him
    He can’t call numbers that have 4+ digits
    He advised us to “sharpen you cutliss back n belly….chap dem up”
    He dash way Boggy Peak
    He makes midnight calls to Chavez
    He did nothing for Gray’s Green community
    MAYBE HE SHOULD JUST LAY LOW…….

  7. Thought this was a waste of time to prosecute, but to read the former PM’s testimony shows how politicians can give some folks a six for a nine. Wonder if he was told that if evidence shows otherwise (Korean officials show documents that it was a gift from government to government) he can/will be jailed would he have testified such? This was well rehearsed by the legal team.

    • It’s the same thing they did with the 18-6 bill, when it was deemed to be “pretty progressive” by the 🐖💄

      They truly have NO REGARD for him neither now nor when he was PM

  8. I think all of you should resurrect John Ashe as he was the man at the centre of the deal. The only one who converted anything was Daniel and he presented to the court emails from Ashe saying the bus was his. Who can dispute this when Ash is dead. Gaston said he had nothing to do with this case but the auditor general testified that the cabinet of Antigua asked him to audit donations for the period UPP was in office, Including the buses. I guess liar Gaston is not part of the cabinet. Can anybody believe anything that comes out of this man’s mouth.
    These charges are nothing more than the labour government going after the opposition, especially Lovell.

      • The next witness called after Mr. Spencer, was Dean Evanson, Director of Audit. He testified that he audited donations from the UN missions from 2009 to 2015. He took into account 2006 to 2008.
        In his police statement he admitted that he included these years because of an actual request of cabinet that spoke to school buses.
        If nothing go so you can call out Observer as both Mr. Spencer and Mr. Evanson testimonies were published in their Big Stories on November 17.
        I suggest you get your facts straight before commenting. Gaston is a liar.

      • Evanson, Director of Audit, said he took into account the audit of the five buses because of an actual request by cabinet. Go read the article.

  9. At first, I categorised this case as a waste of the court’s time. However, Baldwin’s testimony exposed a serious side to this comedy show – the way politicians play fast and loose with public assets.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t one of the buses deployed in St John’s Rural West (Baldwin’s constituency)? How come that bus wasn’t registered in Baldwin’s name? So are we to believe, based on Baldwin’s testimony, that the South Korean government gave some buses to individuals and some buses to the government?

    The 3 defendants need to stop wasting the court’s time; plead guilty as charged; and throw themselves at the mercy of the court. The longer this case goes on, the more foolish the defendants appear.

  10. The UPP screwed, themselves. When they let those IHI matters swept under the carpet. The only person that paid any of the monies back was Rappaport. In one of those recording I heard on CaribArena. It is said that the daughter of a sitting Politician at that time. She never worked anywhere and bought a house in Florida for US$5 million in cash. Why no one was ever charged for thievery and or arrested. That is mind boggling to me.From time to time I do replay those tapes.They surely make my stomach sick. They would speak about millions of US Dollars,as if they owned it.Those monies were ours,not Bellwood Corporation and them thiefing Politicians. Gaston Browne,you were an integral part of that ALP Regime at that time.Tell me and only what do you know about those Millions of IHI disappearance monies?

    • 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Chanlah Codrington warned them, but they didn’t listen to him. Guess because they had zero respect for him (just like they had zero for Baldwin ‘Sharpen-You-Cutliss’ Spencer. They only listen to Gisele Isaac-Arrindell. You nah see they only keep Chanlah quiet with a meager Junior Minister position after he won the UPP seat in All Saints West??

      UPP nah listen
      UPP nah listen
      UPP nah listen
      UPP nah listen
      🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 mercy mi belly. Dem nah listen and granny say WHO NAH HEAR WILL FEEL. 🤣🤣🤣🤣

      Up to now no one has been charged for BRIBING WILMOTH DANIEL under Sharpe-You-Cutliss’ leadership. Wonder if Daniel tape that person? 🤔

    • UPP couldn’t get their case pass The DPP. Injunctions after injunctions we’re granted. The case got nowhere until Labour got back in office and buried it. Sideline said that the DPP said he wasn’t going to bring forward charges because Harold say so. There is a lot of corruption in Antigua in high places.

      • Who bribed Wilmoth Daniel?? That allegation just garn a gwassa like the Car Park & Power Plant. If I recall correctly, Daniel said it was one of their own. Who e be?

  11. Mr. Spencer has sunk so low that he has lost all my respect. When playing politics, you can lie and say anything you want. But when you are under oath in front of a judge giving evidence in a criminal case. You do not ever tell lies or make up some kaka bull story that even a child can see it make no sense. Spencer risk to be taken to court for lying under oath. And that only to save his brothers and sister in politics. I doubt if Lovell would have done the same thing for him. Because Lovell, as an officer of the court knows dam well that what Spencer did can land him in jail. Shame on you Mr. Spencer shame on you. Big man nuh supposed to lie so openly.

    • Sideline, you can prove he lied? You bring the proof and land him in jail. Your buddy and them a file charges when they can’t prove their case. Mind Spencer don’t sue you.

      • Dead men tell no tales. JOHN ASHE and Spencer were “in bed” together, but Spencer turned around and said “ASHE LIED”. Pin everything on the dead man. Spencer never addressed the allegations of BRIBERY put forth by his deputy Wilmoth Daniel.

        • Not only that he said John Ashe lied, but when the money trail finally led to him, he claimed he gave the money to the accountant in the UPP. This was never confirmed by the accountant.

      • The paperwork as to in whose name the buses came is there. If they came in the name of the three ministers there would be no need to transfer them back into their names.

    • Sidelines, you really got some nerves to be calling the Honorable Doctor Baldwin Spencer a liar. I noticed that you are now also saying that it is ok for politicians to lie. That explains why you are Gaston’s biggest supporter. No politician in the world liar that Gaston Browne and Sideline is his #1 Fan.v

  12. Every decent and honest Wadadlians knows that the UPPITES are famous for deception and bunches of lies. It’s their MO from inception to present. They can fooled their dumbtards followers but people with integrity wouldn’t be ever surprised by their continuous deceitfulness. Leopards can’t change their spots. Bunches of duttie Vagabonds and sanctimonious hypocrites.

  13. It was pure thievery. Shameful excuse making by Spencer. Wrongdoing In politics needs to be called out regardless of party or Antigua will continue to be run by crooks.

    • When you bring a case to court, make sure your evidence will persuade a judge or jury to convict. Don’t wait until you get to court to amend the charges because you know you may have a weak case. The judge or jury will decide whether the evidence is strong enough to convict. There are many innocent people in jail and a lot of guilty people walking free. Some believed OJ was guilty and some believed he was framed. In the end the jury decided.
      Agree wrongdoings by politicians on all sides should be called out and prosecuted.

  14. hmmm.
    I which alp minister school children say pressuring people at school meals to pay out ton ah money for some supplier of chicken that arrived there tainted? Investigation comin fu that too.

    Someday say something about land swap? Who preside over, direct and influence land down cove head to get exchanged size for size despite the land at cove head being valued less than a quarter of the land it was exchanged for in friars hill area? Investigation coming for that too.

    How a man get kidnap from Antigua and taken to Dominica and a big government official here seem to min know somehow de man escape to Dominica with some girl friend and ting? De official run he mouth regular on the issue like if he need to lead a smear campaign against the abductee who he min so cozy with at one time And Barbados immigration block three big players in this saga from entering their country but they could make it here with ease although the bajans alert authorities here ahead of time. Investigations coming for that too.

    Sorry you NAMCO? Oh how the money spend you ask and if people get what they for? Investigation coming for that too.

  15. JUST SAYING I am the furthest from save soul you can get so your description is very inappropriate. By the way, I never crucified you for being a lover of our Red Light District on Popeshead Street. Now to the article. I would confess that former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer misspoke when he said that the buses were not government’s property. However, it was decided even at the negotiation stage between the government of South Korea and Antigua and Barbuda, Ambassador Ashe and their Ambassador to the United Nations and Baldwin Spencer as our Foreign Affairs Minister and his counterpart from South Korea, that the donation of the three buses to Antigua would be used by constituency representatives to facilitate transportation for senior citizens in particular. In that regard, the buses were allocated to the three defendants. There was no conversion, embezzlement or corruption by any of them. This case is just a political witch hunt and they will be vindicated. Gaston Browne is trying to distance himself and his ALP Administration from this case but they are integrally involved. The Audit Department was asked to conduct an investigation into the operations of our UN Mission between the years 2009 to 2015 (and this was given in the evidence of the Director of Audit Neil Evanson), however, the government asked them to widen the investigation to the years 2006 to 2008. The three buses in question came to Antigua in 2008 and Gaston and his government were looking for possible wrong doing to go on a political witch hunt. They said “eureka” and began to celebrate when information on three buses from South Korea was unearthed. They felt they had something but this will all come to nought by the Court next week.

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