Revelation about brothers’ withdrawal from BLA prompts response from PM

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (File photo).

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (File photo).

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 11, IWN – Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves on Feb. 4, invested $21,000 in the embattled Building & Loan Association (BLA) on behalf of one of his daughters, and urged other Vincentians to invest also.

But one week later, he is on the defensive, explaining why two of his own brothers withdrew money from the building society while it was under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance, which he heads.

The money was withdrawn on Oct. 1, 2012, he said on radio Monday.

The withdrawal came months before a Jan. 18, 2013 letter in a newspaper by Ministry of Finance economist Luke Browne, questioning the financial health of BLA.

The letter triggered a run on the institution and reports say millions of dollars were withdrawn ahead of a take-over by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) on Feb. 1.

At a press conference on Monday, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace disclosed the information about the withdrawal of money from the account of Theresa Francis, Gonsalves’ mother.

Gonsalves, in his response on radio, accused Eustace of being “nasty” and of beating up on his 93-year-old mother, who he says has Alzheimer’s.

In making the disclosure, Eustace told a press conference at his New Democratic Party headquarters:

“I am reliably informed that funds in excess of EC$1 million, all monies held at Building & Loan in the name of Ms Theresa Francis, mother of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, were withdrawn in full in the final months of 2012.

“… I don’t know who else, in related institutions, or in the Ministry of Finance, or in the FSA or anybody else whose families might have withdrawn resources just before the FSA take-over. … But I have this information and I have no reason to doubt that there may be others. I just don’t know at this time.”

Eustace’s disclosure and Gonsalves’ comments on Monday are the latest development surrounding the 72-year-old BLA.

The building society came into focus when The Vincentian newspaper published the letter by Browne, which asked if BLA was on the verge of collapse.

Gonsalves said Monday that he was told that BLA “came under stress” after Browne’s letter.

The run on BLA is said to have prompted the FSA — which is responsible for the oversight of the non-commercial bank financial institution — to take over BLA on Feb. 1.

An FSA statement before the take-over revealed that BLA had been under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance since 2010.

“And this period when this money was withdrawn overlaps with the period of the Minister of Finance, who was responsible for the supervision of Building and Loan,” Eustace further said of the withdrawal.

“In the circumstances, how can investors be expected to maintain their investments in Building & Loan when immediate family members of the minister in supervision of the Building & Loan have withdrawn theirs?” Eustace told the press conference.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace (shown) announced at a press conference on Monday, Feb. 11, that money was withdraw from Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ mother’s account at Building and Loan last year.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace (shown) announced at a press conference on Monday, Feb. 11, that money was withdraw from Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ mother’s account at Building and Loan last year.

“With respect to the immediate future, many members will no doubt continue to apply to withdraw their respective investments in Building & Loan. … I advise, in my capacity as a citizen and Leader of the Opposition and shadow minister of finance, that the forgoing be taken into consideration to assist members in making an informed decision about their investments. You have to take into account all the factors you are hearing about.

“Further, I call on the FSA to give the members of the Building and Loan Association — the 20-odd thousand people — a more fulsome account of the status of Building & Loan, with all deliberate speed,” Eustace said.

The FSA had previously said that it will meet with shareholder of the BLA.

Meanwhile, Gonsalves said he was not aware that his brothers had withdrawn their mother’s moneyfrom BLA.

“They withdrew the money, I understand today, on the first of October last year,” he said on WE FM’s “Shake-up”, noting the Oct. 1, 2012 date of the transaction.

Gonsalves further said he was unaware of the development when he opened the account for his daughter last week.

“I did not know then that my two brothers, who own the account with my mother — not me, I have no interest in it, none whatsoever — that they had taken out the money on October the first.”

Gonsalves said when he opened the account last week, he mentioned that his parents had an association with BLA since the 1940s and had said his mother and brothers still had an account there.

“Of course, somebody then, who is inside Building & Loan office, went and look up Theresa Francis and tell Eustace.

“I don’t know if it is anybody who has left the organisation since the FSA went in who told him … because I doubt anybody who is there will do a thing like that.

“But this is an attempt by Eustace to politicise something and score a narrow political point in relation to a woman who is 93 years of age in a wheelchair, suffers from Alzheimer’s,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves said that when his press secretary, Hans King, told him of Eustace’s announcement he called his brother to inquire.

“He said, ‘I drew it out because a past director of Building & Loan advised me to draw it out. He said, ‘And he did not advise me once; he advised me repeatedly,’” Gonsalves said.

“I will urge them, that FSA has taken over, to put back the money — some or all…” Gonsalves said in relation to his brothers.

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, we said Luke Browne’s letter was published on Jan. 18, 2012. It was actually published on Jan. 18, 2013.

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11 thoughts on “Revelation about brothers’ withdrawal from BLA prompts response from PM

  1. My brother who is a lawyer and minister of finance and also the PM is the most suitable person i would ask advice about my investment in the country. This ninsense about the PM unawares of his family withdrawal of the million dollars is nonsense. How much dotish must vincentians became before they can learn?

    Posted by urlan | February 11, 2013, 18:02
  2. I don’t understand this…is it that vincentian people are so dotish that everything this guy says they believe….in that case, it serves them right…He will continue to do more. You want to tell me..He is Prime Minister, Min of Finance, brother and son, and he didn’t know that this million plus was taken out ….AMAZING.!!!

    Posted by Observer. | February 11, 2013, 19:38
  3. How could anyone believe that ONE MILLION DOLLARS could be moved legally in SVG and the Ralph, the minister of finance not know about it??? I don’t care who person doing that transaction is. Really? Am I suppose to believe that?
    Am I to believe that the “two brothers” don’t trust the minister of finance (Ralph) SO MUCH that they would make such a decision without at the very least, asking his lawyer brother and finance minister about it??? Either way, it doesn’t smell right.

    Posted by ray | February 11, 2013, 19:48
  4. Have pity on this shaky old man who is always falling down at the home where he lives. He is the father of Camillo, he is finance and justice minister and did not know that Camillo, his son, got a job in the justice ministry.

    Posted by KS784 | February 11, 2013, 20:10

    Posted by beachbaby | February 11, 2013, 20:29
  6. Gonsalves said “Of course, somebody then, who is inside Building & Loan office, went and look up Theresa Francis and tell Eustace“. Don’t you think that they did the right thing Gonsalves? in the US they would get a prize for whistle-blowing, without such people we just would never know.

    “Gonsalves said that when his press secretary, Hans King, told him of Eustace’s announcement he called his brother to inquire.
    “He said, ‘I drew it out because a past director of Building & Loan advised me to draw it out. He said, ‘And he did not advise me once; he advised me repeatedly,’” Gonsalves said”.

    Are we being asked to believe for even one nano-second that the family who have a brother and son who is prime minister and minister of finance, would not as the very first action, ask Ralph Gonsalves some questions. If a BLA director told them several times, would they not report that to Ralph Gonsalves.

    Seeing as his mother has Alzheimer’s, who made the decision for her to withdraw her money? Someone must of done that for her?

    Because his mother is 93 and has Alzheimer’s and is in a wheel chair, is that an excuse for not asking the questions?

    Guess who her solicitor is, doesn’t need a brain surgeon to work that one out.

    I think the police should be called in to make enquiries. But I doubt that will happen.

    What’s my favorite word? B*******

    Why they gotta say it like $hort? B*******

    You know they can’t play on my court

    Can’t hang with the big dogs, stay on the porch

    Who blow the whistle?

    Who blow the whistle?

    Who blow the whistle?

    Who blow the whistle?

    Your mind is gone, your brain is blazed

    You’ve been wide awake for the last 3 days

    Poppin’ pills, it goes down for real

    Don’t stop, just keep rollin’ down hill

    Crash and burn, can’t stand, fall back

    You’re doin’ too much, you can’t handle all that Man, it’s been way too long

    Don’t walk in the garden at 4 am

    Less they say you do it again

    Who blow the whistle?

    Who blow the whistle?

    Who blow the whistle?

    Who blow the whistle?

    Do you really wanna be like me?

    Spit game like Snoop and TIP

    Pretty girls in the V.I.P

    They came with the Dr, they don’t need I.D.

    Posted by Peter | February 11, 2013, 20:41
  7. WHEN will the VINCENTIAN people, and the “short khaki pans boys” [according to Ralph Gonsalves] up in Cabinet, call upon this SCANDAL-RIDDEN, […], imposter Gonsalves’ REGIME to RESIGN and give a full accounting to the nation? Ralph is objectively embarked on a programme of MASHING UP we country.

    This current BUILDINGS AND LOANS IMBROGLIO demands a full, thorough, investigation. Ralph Gonsalves and his parochial minions should not be permitted to investigate themselves. Let the hammer fall where it may.

    This corrupt mal-administration has SOLD OUT our former Government “post office penny bank” and SVG NATIONAL COMMERCIAL BANK, after ineptly running it and the Government onto the rocks of total bankruptcy. They are still untenably endangering the NATIONAL INSURANCE SCHEME (NIS). This deliberate targeting of the BUILDING AND LOANS seems a gambit to make sure that the B & L, with its ULP inspired run on it, goes into insolvency before the NIS does, too.

    It doesn’t help matters much when one considers that many of the Building and Loans leaders/dirrectors seem to be non-ULP-supporting citizens, who may be expectedly leaning toward NDP support, if not already members or ellectoral supporters. The ULP despot must DESTROY opponents’ societal and financial power base, no matter untold tens of thousands of other Vincentian citizens stand to suffer substantial losses also. But, of course, mother and brothers must be protected at all costs. It’s not the first time. Early morning car accident; violating the GHS exam rule on cell phone/ security, NYC embassy spoilt brat temper tantrum . . .

    Funny, that my friend Luke was not informed of those family conncected considerations, prior to sicking the dogs on this long-standing national fixture, the SVG BUILDING AND LOANS. Pappy sain ays when you lie down with mangie dogs that you certain to catch fleas.


    How come an apparent civil servant, AN OFFICIAL OF THE COUNTRY’S FINANCE MINISTRY could so publicly and blatantly make public media statements, by letter or whatever mass media device, to CAUSE A FRANTIC RUN ON A BONA FIDE PRIVATE FINANCIAL INSTITUTION – – – and no sanction is imposed, NOT EVEN A PUBLIC REBUKE?

    IS that the type of FINANCE MINISTRY THAT WE HAVE THESE DAYS in once beloved SVG ?


    TIME ENOUGH for this inept, incompetent, […], scandal-prone Ralph Gonsalves’ REGIME to GO, and stand available to ANSWER FOR THEIR SEEMING POLITICAL HIGH CRIMES AND CORRUPTION.

    The MInister of Finance was “responsible” for the Building and Loans since in 2010?

    The same ulp Minister of Finance appointed the ‘FSA’ which is to “oversee” the Building and Loans. substantially overseen by non Ralph worshippers ?

    After an “Official” of said Ministry of Finance, a defeated ULP CANDIDATE, made statements which PRECIPITATED A FRANTIC RUN ON THE ‘BANK’, viz., Building and Loans?



    Justice must not only be done, but JUSTICE MUST also BE SEEN TO BE DONE.

    Pax et Justitia.

    S.V.G. – – – quo vadis ???

    HANDS OFF THE S.V.G. BUILDING AND LOANS which has served the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines SO VERY WELL over the umpteen years.

    I especiall admire URLAN’s comments, as well as those of KS784 and BEACHBABY. Great patriotic comments overall. KEEP UP YOUR NATIONALIST VIGILANCE, MY VINCY BRETHREN.

    The PRICE of FREEDOM is our continued and ETERNAL VIGILANCE, S.V.G.

    Posted by STEVE__HUGGINS | February 13, 2013, 23:35


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