A senior government minister in Grenada has issued a stern warning to former U.S citizen, Roger Ver that he can expect retaliation if any slanderous statements are made against the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration of Prime Minister Dr. Keith.
Health Minister, Nickolas Steele has vowed that government would take “appropriate action” against Ver who in the past week issued an open letter to the people of Grenada in connection with monies sent to the controversial Levera project in the north of the island.
Ver is seeking the return of US$1 million that he reportedly handed over to an Agent to land a Grenada passport under the island’s Citizenship By Investment Programme.
The money was sent in 2015 to one Robert Martin Oveson, the Managing Director of the Nevis-based NTL Trust, an authorised agent that is listed on the Government website to trade the Grenada passport.
Ver is alleging that Oveson tricked him into sending the money for the Levera project and accused the Mitchell-led government of doing nothing to reign in Oveson.
Speaking to reporters at last Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister Steele warned Ver to watch his mouth since the government would take action against him.
“…If Mr. Ver made slanderous statements about the government of Grenada we would take appropriate action. He is entitled to opinions, there are many other people out there that have opinions negative of the government, that doesn’t give them any credibility in their expression of their opinion – an opinion expressed openly doesn’t mean that it is a correct opinion, it’s merely that, it’s an opinion, it’s not fact.
“…What credibility does he (Ver) have? Is he someone in high esteem? Is he someone in a position to judge a government? Is he a judge or is he someone who has a grudge against someone else and is trying to drag the government into this? Who is he?”
Government has dropped hints that Ver’s application for a Grenada passport was turned down on account of a conviction he had in the United States.
Minister Steele ripped into the businessman who had sent a letter, dated November 1, 2016 to attorney-at-law, Kaisha Ince who was then serving as Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister giving details of the alleged scam by Oveson.
Ince had given Ver an assurance that the alleged fraud will be investigated and that government will get back in touch with him.
Ver has indicated that government did not get back in touch with him over the missing US$1 million and continues to promote Oveson’s NTL Trust on its website as an official Grenada CBI agent.
According to Minister Steele, no wrong doing was found when the matter was looked into by government and that as far as the NNP regime is concerned the matter is between two private individuals and has nothing to do with the State.
“As far as I’m aware an investigation was done and there was no wrong doing on the part of the government or on the individual local agent (attorney-at-law Sheila Harris). The issue is one between the two individuals”, he said.
“…The individual (Ver) was denied citizenship…it shows that within our right, the government of Grenada through the CBI programme, through our due diligence process has the right mandate in fact to deny individuals citizenship and the government exercised that right to deny the individual citizenship.
“This individual is not querying the government on the denial – this individual seems to have an issue between him and the agent (Oveson) out there that he contacted …because I am not even sure if that individual was an agent for the company or so. The details are between two individuals, (and) not associated with the government of Grenada.
Steele did not give details as to which arm of the government conducted the investigation back in November that found no one guilty of the alleged fraud against Ver.
However, the businessman went into the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in January to file a formal complaint of alleged fraud against Oveson who has since been asked to resign as a Director of the company doing the Levera project.
CID sent the Ver file to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Christopher Nelson who then ordered the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) headed by Superintendent Tafawa Pierre to conduct the criminal investigation into Ver’s allegation against Oveson.
The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been calling for the removal of Supt. Pierre as FIU head on the grounds that he is “politically exposed” in the position since he is the husband of the Government CBI Line Minister, Emmalin Pierre.
Ver who denounced his U.S Citizenship and now holds a CBI passport from St. Kitts has also filed a civil lawsuit against Oveson, NTL Trust and the company that is currently engaged in the Levera project.
Oveson’s brother, Randall is now being promoted as the man taking on the multi-million dollar Levera project which government sees as crucial to help tackle employment in the north of the island.
Ver is insisting that the project should not proceed with his missing US$1 million.