Government of Antigua vs. Lester Bird et al in the ‘IHI’ Matter
Payments Guaranteed by Tax Revenue
In March 2004, Baldwin Spencer was elected as Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda replacing the former Antigua Labour Party led by Lester Bird. In May 2004, the Attorney General retained Lindquist to investigate allegations of corruption regarding the former government. Lindquist called in Howard Williams and Ron Piers to assist with the mandate. In March 2006 the Attorney General filed a civil claim in the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda in the “IHI” matter that included Lester Bird, Asot Michael and Bruce Rappaport as defendants.
In February 2009, the Attorney General issued a statement to advise of the recovery of US$12 million from the Rappaport family in Switzerland. The allegations were based upon an alleged fraud against the government of US$14.4 million over a period of 10 years. The AG’s statement dated February 10, 2009 states:
“I now have in hand Mr. Lindquist’s…report… traces the payment by government from December 1996 of the monthly sum of US$403,334 out of the consumption tax revenue paid by West Indies Oil Company to the various people in receipt of these monies, with details of the companies through which the monies were sent, to what bank accounts, in which countries and how these monies were finally disbursed…the payments were to be made over a period of 25 years and would have amounted to US$121,000,200…Mr. Rappaport, through his lawyers agreed to settle the claim…by paying to the government the sum of US$12,000,000 in respect of our civil claim. I am pleased to advise the government is in receipt of the payment”.
As an aside, international work has its intrigue, I flew out of Antigua on January 13, 2008 and my office, located above a doctor’s office in St. John’s was subject of an early morning fire bomb on January 17, 2008. Fortunately my sixth sense gave me complete document protection, nothing was lost.