Former Minister of Housing Hilson “Brother B” Baptiste has rebuffed and labelled as “totally fabricated” the recent allegation that the former minister of housing transferred proceeds from the sale of homes into his personal accounts.
While he was never identified by name when the allegation was made, Baptiste said the claims could only refer to him and warned, “I’m turning the matter over to my lawyer.”
Over the weekend the Government’s Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst reported that senior management from the Central Housing & Planning Authority (CHAPA) made the original allegations to the Cabinet.
According to Hurst, CHAPA’s management told the ministers that “when several houses built at Follies were sold, the monies were transferred directly to the previous minister in the United Progressive Party administration”.
Baptiste has since told OBSERVER media that “no one has called me to ask for any information” regarding what has been alleged. He added that others should be called on to answer the claims.
“It must be remembered that there was a board over the operations of CHAPA and that board had an executive director and an accountant,” he charged.
At Monday’s post-Cabinet press conference, which followed a meeting of the Cabinet on the weekend, Minister of Information Melford Nicholas said the government did not have enough information to call for further action such as an investigation.
“Whether or not it will reach to the stage of becoming a full blown judicial investigation or Commission of Inquiry is too early to say… Clearly, we’re going to have to peel back some more onion skins to be able to make a determination as to what we need to do,” he said.
The chief of staff also reported that CHAPA officials claimed the auditing of its books came to a halt because financial records had “disappeared”, with the last audit being completed in 2016 for 2006.
According to Hurst, the CHAPA representatives said that authorities from the previous administration absconded with CHAPA’s records.