Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ambrose George Fired as Minister

Ambrose George, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructural Development has been fired by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

In a tersely worded statement on state run radio, the Dominica Broadcasting Corporation (DBS), Skerrit thanked George for his services to the state but did not give any reasons for his departure.

This is the second time that George has been axed as a minister. In 2002, then Prime Minister Pierre Charles fired George as finance minister after FBI agents in Puerto Rico, arrested his traveling companion Julian Giraud on money laundering charges. At the time George was not charged, but Giraud was eventually convicted in a Miami court and sentenced to prison.

Ironically, Giraud has been named in the most recent allegations swirling around former minister George. Most of the allegations centers on the attempted setting up of an offshore bank in Dominica. Recent reports revealed a letter purportedly written by George in which he demanded payment of at least US $ 100 000 for a go-between who was instrumental in setting up an offshore bank in Dominica. Government later revoked the license of the bank when it was determined that the principal investor was a convicted money launderer.

It is believed that George was instrumental in obtaining the license, and may have actually signed when acting as Prime Minister. Government recently removed scrutiny of the offshore banking sector from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). Once the news broke in Dominica, people began calling for the Prime Minister to take swift action to get rid of George.

Prime Minister Skerrit also announced a Cabinet reshuffle in which he assumes responsibility for National Security and Rayburn Blackmore takes over George’s Ministry. At the same time, Vince Henderson becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs and is replaced by Senator Sonia Williams as Minister of Education, Sports, Human Resource and Youth Affairs.