KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 26, IWN — Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he will sue Arnhim Eustace for statement the Opposition Leader made at a New Democratic Party town hall meeting in New York on March 16.
“It is clear that Mr. Eustace is in a state of decline, the sort of things that he said,” Gonsalves said at a press conference on Monday, where he announced the pending legal action.
Gonsalves, a lawyer, said Eustace defamed him when spoke about the Prime Minister’s mother $1 million dollar account having been removed from the Building & Loan Association last year and Gonsalves investing $21,000 in the financially troubled institution in February.
“On the 16th of March, Mr. Arnhim Eustace said the following to an audience in New York and published to the world, including a radio station here. Several newspapers quoted it.
“He says this: ‘I cannot tell people to keep your money there (Building & Loan Association) when the Prime Minister’s mother’s account is removed. My conscience would not allow me to do so. I was criticised by a lot of people, you know. I don’t mind that. It should not have happened. And all this dressing up of going in to put in 21 thousand dollars is a lot of foolishness. It is an act of deceit in relation to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I cannot support that. And so a lot of people would have to wait until August.’”
“Well, Arnhim Eustace, you’ll have to meet me in the High Court of justice,” Gonsalves said. “You’ll have to prove to the judge that I am guilty of a deceit.”
He said Eustace’s statement is “a serious defamation”.
“Prime minister of 12 years standing, a lawyer of over 30 years standing guilty of deceit? In other words, I knew, according to him, that my mother’s account was withdrawn when I put in. And I went and put in the 21,000 just to deceive people, throw smoke in their eyes.”
Gonsalves had previously said that he did not know that his brother, who are join holders of the account with their 93-year-old mother, had cancelled the account, on the advise of a BLA director.
“Well, I will be contacting my lawyers when I return from Antigua to deal with this matter” said Gonsalves, who is slated to attend a sitting of the OECS Assembly in St. John’s.
“Because, he apparently knew something that I didn’t know on the day when I opened my account,” he further said of Eustace.
“He must stop being desperate. I know you are getting very old; you’re two years older than I am and time is running out,” said Gonsalves, who turns 67 in August.
“Time is running out and your desperation is showing man. Stop your desperation. You will pay for your mouth and I am resolute on this matter.”
Gonsalves has at least one pending defamation judgement against the Opposition Leader.
Earlier this month, lawyers for Eustace wrote Gonsalves asking him to apologise and pay Eustace $140,001 or be sued for statements he made on radio on Feb. 17. (Read story)