Prime Minister Gaston Browne seems to have had just about enough of people suggesting that there might be a link between the forging of his signature and the brutal murder of Customs Inspector Nigel Christian.
The Prime Minister kept his cool, but one could not miss the frustration in his voice after a caller to the Browne and Browne Show on Pointe FM suggested, among other things, that the nation’s leader has been too quiet on the issue, which the caller described as “the biggest breach of national security.”
The Prime Minister would have none of it.
“This idea about quiet tune, I don’t know what Sir you and others expect me to do,” Browne said.
“What else you want me to do? You want me to go on Boggy Peak and shout about it? I’ve stated everything that I know and obviously law enforcement is not going to share all of the details, not even with me as Prime Minister, and I don’t want to know all the details either, all I want to know is that they’re working assiduously to bring these people to justice.
“You all need to allow the system to work and I don’t see how this could ever define the prime-ministership of the country, that is just utter nonsense,” Browne added.
Brokers were exploiting weakness in ASYCUDA system
While noting that the matter is before law enforcement, the Prime Minister explained that what happened was that a number of brokers were exploiting an IT weakness within the ASYCUDA [Automated System for Customs Data] system.
He said they were able to manipulate the system to the extent that they owe customs a few million dollars in taxes.
“That’s a matter for the police. That is not a matter for the Prime Minister,” Browne said.
“We are transparent and we made it clear to the public what was going on and what action is being taken. The Comptroller of Customs has written to the police asking them to investigate the issue — to investigate not only the undermining of the process in which they literally robbed customs of a few million dollars, but also to look at the issue of the superimposition of the Prime Minister’s signature.
PM’s theory on how his signature was forged
Prime Minister Browne explained how he believed his signature was forged.
“Now, what would have happened, whenever someone gets a duty-free, let’s say on a motor vehicle, I will sign the warrant authorizing it. And what seems to have happened in a few cases is that a few brokers — who are not necessarily involved in this Nigel Christian shooting — these are not brokers who are involved in the big case as we know it with one broker who may have robbed the revenue of about $3 million; these are some smaller brokers who are hustling and what they did they seems to have copied the signature on one of the warrants and superimposed it on another,” the Prime Minister said.
“But for some reason, people are trying to make a direct connection as though the signature has something to do with the murder. Why you all would come to that conclusion? And we do not even know that even the particular broker who would have robbed the revenue of about $3 million by manipulating the system, that he’s involved in the murder either. We have to allow law enforcement to do their work.
“And I do not know — based on the fact that progress is being made by the police as well as the FBI — I don’t know that there’s any need for any so-called independent investigation at this time. Allow law enforcement to do their work,” Browne added.
PM rejects call for Raju Boddu’s dismissal
The Prime Minister also dismissed a suggestion by the caller that the Comptroller of Customs, Raju Boddu, should be asked to resign or fired.
“The suggestion that the Comptroller of Customs should resign, that is utter nonsense,” Browne said.
“The Comptroller, not even the customs officers were aware of the glitch that existed within the ASYCUDA system. They didn’t design it, they didn’t design it with the glitch.
“It so happens that the way in which the software is designed, the customs brokers who are licensed they have the opportunity to key into the system electronically and to input their information, and by so doing, they were able to manipulate a glitch in the system to the extent — at least in the case of one broker — he robbed customs of over $3 million and the matter is being investigated.”