Lewis gives Browne six reasons to pull Govt’s rental agreement with his son, citing nepotism and breach of trust

Rural West MP Richard Lewis is not backing down on the rental
agreement between Gaston Andron Browne’s company, IF Antigua
Inc., and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. 

A clear case of nepotism is how Lewis describes this deal, and he is
calling for its termination and a full accounting to the public.

Based on an unofficial report purporting to come out of the Ministry
of Works, over $850,000 was spent by taxpayers to refurbish – quite
extensively – the Friars Hill property owned by the prime minister’s
son and to configure a plot of land to serve as its parking lot.

Therefore, MP Lewis calls on Prime Minister Gaston Browne,
himself, to rescind the arrangement on the basis of six grounds – one
of which is that the arrangement “stinks of nepotism.”

To support this, Lewis points to the fact that the prime minister’s
wife – Maria Browne – sits on the board of the West Indies Oil
Company Limited (WIOC), the original owner of the property in

WIOC sold the property to Andron Browne, and it was subsequently
converted to house three government offices under Maria Browne’s

ministerial portfolio: the Ministry of National Housing, the
Development Control Authority (DCA), and the Lands Office.

Other reasons proffered by Lewis include the claim that the sale of
the WIOC property was not publicly advertised, raising questions
about “inside information” being used to gain an unfair advantage.

Another reason cited by Lewis is that PM Browne has failed to
provide any official documentation that proves the repairs and
improvements made to his son’s property represent value for

Further, the prime minister has failed to provide figures and
documentation on the quantum of rent paid since the initial terms of
the lease expired on March 1, 2023, according to Clause 2.1 of the

Lewis notes that Clause 5.3 of the agreement provides for the
renegotiation of rent every year after the initial 18-month period

The MP notes further that Prime Minister Browne has left many
critical questions unanswered, choosing to deflect, instead.

Additionally, Lewis says the head of Government has breached the
public’s trust with his initial misleading statement, claiming the
property is owned by an “investment group” and not his son.

Therefore, Lewis reasons, PM Browne cannot be trusted to protect
the public’s interest if this questionable agreement is allowed to

“Prime Minister Browne must come clean on this highly deceptive
arrangement and make every effort to right this wrong committed
against the people of Antigua and Barbuda,” Lewis says.

In addition to the termination of the rental agreement, Lewis wants
Browne to provide full disclosure on all expenditure on his son’s
property, to date, accompanied by full documentation.

This includes all funds spent on repairs and improvements to the
property, as well as the amount of rent paid from the the initial
term of the lease agreement on September 1, 2021, to present.

Lewis concludes, “The Prime Minister must act with haste to publish
the information I have requested” in the interest of transparency
and accountability.

If he fails to “fulfill this reasonable request,” the MP says, he will
request the data under the Freedom of Information Act and compel
the release of all the relevant figures and documentation
surrounding this matter.

Commenting on this ongoing issue, a woman has this to say: “Like
the apostle Paul had a thorn in his flesh; Prime Minister Gaston
Browne seems to have also developed one, in the person of MP
Richard Lewis.”