Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 19, 2018 – The “inappropriate begging” syndrome of St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris had been highlighted by the Federation’s Leader of the Opposition, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas in 2017.
“Investors and developers have been turned off. We have a begging prime minister. This is not good. The image of the country has changed dramatically and it has to be rebuilt,” said the former Prime Minister in a March 29, 2017 news report.
Fast track to May 13, 2018, when the British press reported that Prime Minister Harris was embroiled in the Peter Virdee-Antigua-St. Kitts Bribery Scandal.
Property tycoon Peter Singh Virdee has been accused of bribing high-ranking Caribbean politicians after secretly taped telephone calls emerged in a High Court judgment.
The tapes reveal that Prime Minister Harris is alleged to have begged Peter Virdee for a watch and a pair of shoes during discussions over a probable energy deal for St. Kitts and Nevis.
The transcripts were produced from surveillance recordings made by German police after they suspected Peter Virdee of being involved in tax fraud. The German tapes were handed over to the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the UK who began their own criminal investigation into the allegations of bribery of Harris and Antigua’s minister Asot Michael.
In an intercepted phone conversation between Peter Virdee and his business partner, Dieter Trutschle on 12th March 2016, Virdee said that the Prime Minister Harris was in London and had asked him for a nice watch and a pair of shoes.
“He (Dr. Harris) called me this morning (Saturday 12th March, 2016) and he said ‘Have you got my watch?’ I said ‘Oh I have got to pick your watch up.”
Virdee and Prime Minister Harris had been discussing a probable energy project for St. Kitts and may have made a request for campaign financing.
“I had a very stiff conversation with him, to the point. I said ‘Listen, you have got another 3, 3 and a half years. In 2 years’ time you are going to start your election campaign, you are going to come to me and say ‘Peter Virdee, I need some election funding’ and I am going to say ‘PM I can’t help you, if I have not earned anything from this country’ and then you are going to get upset and then we are going to fall out, so it is your call, how do you want to do this?’
The billionaire businessman gave the impression that Dr. Harris was not forthcoming on whether he was willing to agree to an energy deal before handing over funds.
“I have not got time to go and entertain and go and meet him at airports and take him out for lunches and take eight of them out for dinner, and buy him a watch and buy him this and buy him shoes. I haven’t got time for that. Now, I don’t mind nurturing a relationship, the guy is in power today,” Virdee said in the transcripts which are part of a High Court Judgement in London.