Written by Bob Lindquist

In Lessons Learned #1 we stated ‘Objectivity is the key word from beginning to end’. We should have added that this includes your conduct during the entire legal process as it progresses over the years.


ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Attorney John Fuller said the publication of Asot Michael’s witness
statement in the IHI debt settlement probe could jeopardise the future of the investigation. He condemned the report on Caribarena’s online news portal, calling it “the most outrageous abuse of information” particularly since it could have a negative effect on potential witnesses in other cases, who may now decide not to come forward out of fear their statements could be leaked.

There have been numerous instances in which prosecutors had to edit witness statements for national security reasons and also to prevent prejudicial statements against an accused being made before a jury. Fuller said, regardless the means of obtaining the document, the entity ought to have exercised caution given the potential ramifications.

The lawyer added he believes the publication is a part of a “personal vendetta” against opposition Antigua Labour Party MP Michael, who is one of the individuals being investigated in the IHI matter. The MP has several civil lawsuits pending against the news site in which he accuses its operators of libel and defamation of his character through several articles. He is seeking aggravated and exemplary damages.

While the police communications office has declined to comment, Commissioner Vere Browne said he must first apprise himself of the contents of the latest publication before making a statement. Meantime, head of the Criminal Investigation Department Superintendent Nuffield Burnette also declined to comment yesterday but had earlier said, the file would be reconstituted and police would continue the investigation.

Apart from MP Michael, former prime minister Lester Bird, Bellwood Services SA, Patrick A Michael Co Ltd and Debt Settlement Administrators LLC of Florida are all targets of the IHI probe. The investigation, which was the subject of a forensic investigation by Robert Lindquist, relates to the repayment of the US$33 million loan from IHI Japan to fund the construction of a desalination plant and power plant.

Several civil matters were filed and later withdrawn, while a Commission of Inquiry was scrapped following legal challenges. In 2011, the investigators said they shifted focus to building a criminal case into the alleged misappropriation of about US$14 million. The late Swiss investor Bruce Rappaport and his IHI debt settlement company are no longer under investigation since Rappaport repaid US$12 million to the government.