Caribbean News

PM denies meeting with billionaire investor

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris has denied holding discussions with Greek billionaire, Alkiviades “Alki” David or his associates, who left the island last week following his release on EC$300,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) bail after making an appearance in court on drug related charges.

“I have never organized or in fact engaged in any meeting with either parties,” Prime Minister Harris said on a radio programme on Thursday night.
“That is a malicious statement and it’s akin to the kind of Cambridge Analytica approach which the Douglas party has taken with respect to matters of the state [which] is to tell the most mischievous lie and hope that the public would believe,” Harris told radio listeners.

David, who said he plans to invest in the local cannabis industry, through his company, Swiss X, told a news conference on Monday that he had met with Prime Minister Harris, but declined to provide any details of the talks.

But he said that the discussions with Prime Minister Harris broke down after he – David – was asked to do something that he did not wish to do.

His attorneys who were present at the news conference prevented David from giving any details of the meeting when pressed by reporters to do so.

David, the heir to the Coca-Cola fortune, was granted bail after being charged for possession of controlled drugs, possession with intent to supply and importation of a controlled drug into the Federation. David, 50, was arrested by the Anti-Narcotics Unit at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport after a search of his private jet uncovered more than EC$1.3 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) worth of cannabis on board.

During the news conference on Monday, David claimed the plants on board his private aircraft were “all hemp” and were intended for a new venture to start a legal cannabis business in the region.

He will return to court on September 23.

During his radio interview, Prime Minister Harris said that he does not or have ever had any form of relationship, whether personal or otherwise, with David or his associate, Chase Ergen.

Prime Minister Harris said he was first made aware of David’s presence in the country after the matter had made international headlines.

“On Sunday last (May 12) I had reason to be at the Park Hyatt (where) I was accosted by a gentleman, who in the end identified himself as Mr. David and we had an interaction for about a minute and a half,” Prime Minister Harris said.

“Once I realised who he was I then got a preview of the kind of character, unstable and unbalanced he was. He said to me your government arrested me illegally and I looked at him in disbelief,’ Harris said, noting that David “ would come to a head of a country in that particular matter .

“And I said to him if you come to a country and you don’t know the law you should consult with your lawyer or the government and before I could finish that, the guest on whom I was waiting to have a lunch arrived and Mr. David walked away,” he told radio listeners.

Prime Minister Harris also distanced himself from David’s affiliate, Chase Ergen, who is also known internationally as Charles Edwards, saying “Edwards is a personality from whom you keep 10 miles, for Mr. Edwards has shown a temperament that would not encourage anyone to attempt to have even a conversation with him and I have not had a conversation with Mr. Ergen on his visit here in St. Kitts of recent vintage. “

Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas, who spoke on his radio programme, said David visited the Federation with the expressed intention to meet with local farmers and businessmen and to determine the feasibility of building a fair and robust cooperative system that would unlock the economic potential of the fast growing medical marijuana industry.

Douglas said that he could not have done this without working the necessary framework for starting a business that would require a huge injection of capital, especially in research and development.

Douglas said he was contacted in his capacity as president and chief executive officer of Global Lifestyles Foundation and asked to assist in helping to establish such a business in St Kitts and Nevis and other islands of the Caribbean.


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