Tuesday 15th May, 2018 –Saint Peter Member of Parliament Asot Michael is out of the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda after tendering his resignation today to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
In the hours since, the prime minister has written to Governor General Sir Rodney Williams requesting that Michael’s instruments of appointment be revoked as the Minister of Trade and Investment.
It comes days after news broke that the former minister was implicated in a bribery scandal with British Property tycoon Peter Singh Virdee after phone calls intercepted by the German authorities were included in a judgment issued by a London Court, where Virdee had applied for judicial review in a bribery/corruption case.
According to reports, phones calls allegedly involve Mr. Michael appealing to Virdee for millions of dollars, in addition to reminding the property tycoon of a promise made to allegedly purchase a car for Mr. Michael’s mother.
Mr. Michael was detained by British authorities last year while passing through London en route to France.
In his letter to the prime minister, Minister Michael wrote:
“I am aware that recent media reports, emerging from Court proceedings in the United Kingdom, to which I am not a party, have caused anxiety in some quarters of our society and are being used by opposition political elements to seek to discredit me and the Government.”
“I emphasize that I am not a party to the Court proceedings in the United Kingdom which have been reported in the media, nor have I been charged with any wrong doing. The media reports refer to recordings of conversations between persons other than myself, and I cannot be held responsible for their utterances.”
He continued, “The interests of the people of Antigua and Barbuda and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda are, and have always been, of preeminent concern to me throughout my political life.
“I have not worked so diligently over the last 21 years for the advancement of Antigua and Barbuda, and in support of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party, to allow the reputation and standing of the Nation and the Party to be tarnished by political actors who are determined to pull down the Government and the Party by besmirching me”
Mr. Michael declared that he will resign effective 17th May “to allow the Government to fulfill its obligations to the people, without any distraction”, adding that he “will continue to work assiduously in the interest of the people of my constituency, and do all in my power to counter and disprove allegations made against me”
However, the prime minister’s letter to the Governor General outlines that Mr. Michael will no longer be a member of his Cabinet effective today.
Following news of his detention in 2017, he was dismissed from the Cabinet of Prime Minister Gaston Browne. The prime minister had said then that if the matter was to arise again, Michael would not be spared and will not be able to function in his Cabinet.
Mr. Michael will continue to serve as a Member of Parliament, now that his appointment as a Cabinet member is revoked.
There has been no official statement from the government on this latest development.