For the first time since the fiasco involving former government minister Asot Michael, Prime Minister Gaston Browne is telling it all, about what exactly happened when the then Minister of Investment and Trade resigned from his position.
“He came to Cabinet and I said to him in front of his Cabinet colleagues, you have one or two options, is either I fire you or you resign. He tried to resist and I said by the way I want you out of the Cabinet immediately,” Browne said on Saturday
“I fired him for his bad conduct because this guy has the propensity to abuse public resources and to abuse people and I meant not in my administration”
The alleged “bad conduct”, that Browne is speaking about stems from the arrest of Michael in the UK
According to Browne, who claims that he has the transcript from the UK authorities, Michael was recorded in a conversation with businessman property tycoon, British investor, Peter Verde about a “dirty deal”
Browne said the government purchased a $20M renewable energy plant from Peter Verde’s firm PV Energy where Michael allegedly solicited Verde for $2M.
“Asot Michael solicited Peter Verde for a kickback for US$2M, a watch, and a Mercedes vehicle. He and Peter eventually ended up in a squabble in which Peter said to him I didn’t make any substantial money in the deal…Asot then said to him he delivered the contract and he needed his money…”
Browne said, when the contract came to his desk, there was indeed an additional $6M.
“I had to sign as minister of finance. I notice that the $21M was part of the contract plus an extra $6M mobilization, which would have taken the amount to $27M. I thought it was a genuine error so I removed the $6M. The contract came back a second time…I noticed it wasn’t an error so I called Asot…”
While vehemently denying seeking bribes as suggested in the court proceedings in the United Kingdom, Michael, in a statement to the media at the time that he had no party to the court proceedings in the United Kingdom.
The relationship between Michael and Browne has never been the same. In fact, there were many weeks; perhaps months of mudslinging following Micheal’s removal from the Cabinet
He is now contesting the St Peter seat as an independent candidate