KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 13, IWN — Investor Dave Ames visited the Official Residence of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves twice and took a photograph with on one of these occasions.
Gonsalves told the BBC of the visits in a March 7 letter in which he responded to nine issues Matthew Chapman, a producer of the BBC’s “Panorama”, raised in a Feb. 26 letter.
The Prime Minister had previously told a press conference that Ames has never “crossed the threshold” of his Official or private residence.
He said in the letter to Chapman said that he had no recollection of Ames ever visiting his Official Residence and had to be reminded of the meetings by his wife, Eloise.
Gonsalves maintained that he never received money from Ames,
Allegations in this regard, he said, “are simply LIES utter by LIARS!”
Chapman, in his letter, said Panorama was told that Ames, on three occasions — in January, March and June 2011 — met with Gonsalves and arrived with substantial amount of U.S. dollars and left the respective meetings without the monies.
The BBC producer said his show was told that the first meeting took place at the office of Samuel E. Commissiong — Ames’ lawyer — in the Building & Loan Association Building in Kingstown and the second at the official resident of the Prime Minister.
No venue was given for the alleged third meeting.
Commissiong, in a separate letter to Chapman on March 11, said Gonsalves has never visited his office since becoming Prime Minister on March 29, 2001.
“If it is being suggested that he sent to collect the money from me that, too, would be false because there was no money to collect,” Commissiong wrote.
He also said that Ames did not visit his office in March 2011.
Meanwhile, Gonsalves noted in his letter that Chapman did not allege who gave the monies and for what purpose.
“Whoever fabricated these allegation for your team of journalists have gravely misled you,” Gonsalves wrote.
He said Ames’ first visit to the Official Residence of the Prime Minister “was a very brief happenstance.”
On the second occasion, Gonsalves said, Ames came for a “Chinese Auction” to raise funds for the Lady of Guadalupe Home for Girls, a Roman Catholic Charity, with which the Prime Minister’s wife is involved.
“On both occasions, Mr. Ames was in ‘the public area’ of the Official Residence, downstairs. I do not recall the date for either occasion,” Gonsalves said.
He said he was told that on the first occasion, Ames had an appointment to see his wife and they met in the public area downstairs.
“I went downstairs to tell my wife that I was leaving the Residence. I saw Mr. Ames there; he requested a photograph with me. The photograph was taken and I promptly left. My encounter with Mr. Ames did not even last for one minute,” Gonsalves said.
He further said his personal security detail is always with me at the compound as soon as he emerges from the living quarters upstairs.
“My security officers would have been with me at the time. Security at the Residence is much tighter since a security issues arose in early 2008.”
Gonsalves said that on Ames’ second visit to the Official Residence, there was “a sizeable crowd of person at the charity event.
“A wide cross-section of the Vincentian people and some non-nationals were present. My wife and I host events regularly in the public areas of the Residence. After all, although my family and I occupy the Residence, it belongs to the people,” Gonsalves wrote.
Gonsalves had previously told the media that he has a professional relationship with Ames.
Paul Kenyon, a BBC journalist working on a “Panorama” programme to be made about Harlequin’s Buccament Bay Resort asked Gonsalves in Barbados about an allegation that Ames had gone to his office with money and left without it, Gonsalves has said.
“Your Prime Minister has been reasonably on good terms and has a good relationship with David Ames for a while so there were questions surrounding that,” Kenyon told I-Witness News in February.
But Gonsalves told a press conference on Feb. 25 that he has a professional relationship with Ames.
“Mr. Ames is an investor with whom I have a business relationship. If he was a good friend of mine, he has been around here for … six years now. He never crossed the threshold of my house, either at the Official Residence or whether up at Gorse,” he said in response to Kenyon’s comments regarding his relationship with Ames.
“You think a man is my good friend, knowing me wouldn’t ah already come by me for drinks? So, what happen, I mustn’t have a business relationship with investors? Must I have a hostile relationship with them? But they want to create a scenario of some buddy-buddy relationship. I have kept my relationship with Mr. Ames very professional,” Gonsalves further said at the Feb. 25 press conference.
He said in his letter to Chapman that he never received money from Ames at the law office of Commissiong or anywhere else in March 2011 or at any time.
He also said that he has not visited Commissiong’s office since becoming Prime Minister on March 29, 2001.
“I had no encounter with Mr. Ames anywhere involving money whether being left by itself of ‘changing hands’, in June 2011 or at any time or anywhere,” Gonsalves wrote.
He further said that when the BBC first asked him about the allegation of money that they had said that there was one alleged incident involving money for which there were reportedly three witnessed.
“Now I lean from your question that there are three alleged occasions of alleged money transfer,” Gonsalves wrote.