St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris describes the reported investigation into the multi-million Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) as a work in progress.
The SIDF established in September 2006 with the National Bank Trust Company as founder, was designed as a specially approved project for Citizenship by Investment in St Kitts and Nevis.
Since taking office in February 2015, the Team Unity Administration launched investigations into the administration of the Foundation.
“With respect to the SIDF again, appropriately, when we are ready to move ahead and advise the professional people in further action or investigations this will become known to the public. It is a work in progress and in some of these issues they are not matters you can hurry, you have to do things a proper way. We are about good governance and good governance anticipates and presupposes that proper procedures are being followed even in the procurement of information with regards to potential investigations and so we are not allowing ourselves to become excited about these developments. We are allowing the appropriate people to deal with them professionally with the only note that these are matters of current interest to the people of St Kitts and Nevis.”
The SIDF was reportedly designed to provide grants loans, budget support, debt forgiveness or assistance of any kind to the government or institutions that qualify for such assistance under SIDF policies.
Team Unity is on record stating that the SIDF was used by the previous administration as an alternative to the Consolidated Fund to receive money that should belong to the government and be under the scrutiny of Parliament and the Auditor General. In other words it was a "slush fund".
Dr Harris in his response to a question posed at the recent Prime Minister's Press Conference, indicated that steps were underway to recover some of the money given out by the Foundation.
“With respect to what action has been done, yes a number of persons have been called, a number of persons have agreed to make payment plans and in fact there are deduction orders for those who are civil servants that have come in and they have put things in place in relation to the recovery of some of these monies that they got under programmes such as SAFE etc. There are others that are with the Director of Audit, such as those that would have come through the Ministry of Social Development, Health, etc and those are with the Director of Audit. So a work in progress, not off the agenda but due processes are being followed in getting us there.”