Antigua lawsuit could threaten Chinese $$

The privately-owned Antigua Power Company (APC) has named the Export-Import (EX-IM) Bank of China as well as several members of the former Antigua government in a lawsuit relating to the provision of a power station and the current administration has called on the company to “do the patriotic thing” and remove the Bank from the lawsuit.

A statement from the Office of Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne yesterday said that the utility which is owned by the Hadeed family, is threatening the future livelihood of the people of Antigua and Barbuda by attempting to sue the EX-IM Bank. “A lawsuit against the EX-IM Bank of China, which is wholly owned by the Government of China, would bring an immediate halt to all funding for Antigua and Barbuda from the Chinese Government,” the statement warned.

It stated that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda is “extremely concerned” about this development which it regards as “non-patriotic.”

“In the circumstances, senior government representatives have called on the Hadeed family to demonstrate patriotism to the country by removing the EX-IM Bank of China from its lawsuit. The Chinese Bank is poised to invest over US$260 million in Antigua and Barbuda to create hundreds of jobs and sustainable development projects – all of which are now at risk.   The Bank has already invested US$126 million in the country,” the statement declared.

It said that the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) government emphasizes that the Hadeed family has not sued any member of the present government. The lawsuit names former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, former Attorney-General Justin Simon, former non-resident Ambassador to China David Shoul, and former Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Public Utilities Authority (APUA) Clarvis Joseph.

The lawsuit claims that Spencer, Simon, Shoul and Joseph conspired to cause APC Ltd to suffer losses by entering into a contract for the provision of a power station to Beijing Construction and Engineering Group Ltd which is also named in the lawsuit. Former Prime Minister Spencer is accused by the Hadeed family, owners of APC Ltd, of malfeasance in public office, the statement noted.

“The present ABLP government has inherited this unwholesome mess created by the Spencer administration and has no issue with the claims against members of the former government,” the statement said.

“However, it believes that it is highly inappropriate to involve the EXIM Bank of China which acted only in good faith to provide low-cost funding to the project. It is in this connection that the ABLP government calls on the Hadeed family to do the patriotic thing for the people of Antigua and remove the Chinese Bank from their lawsuit,” it declared.

The statement also said that the government has pointed out that all the members of the Hadeed family have made their wealth in Antigua and Barbuda and they continue to do so through many businesses supported by the people and government of the country.

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