Prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit has weighed into the controversy surrounding the transfer of funds from the Dominica Academy of Arts and Science (DAAS) account to the personal account of the organization’s then-treasurer, Dr. Thomson Fontaine.
Speaking on the Next Level program on the weekend, Skerrit challenged Fontaine to produce all bank transactions done by him during the time the monies were transferred.
“Thomson need to provide to us his bank statements during that period, provide to us the certificates, the CDs (Certificate of Deposit) that he said he placed the money in,” Skerrit said.
For weeks, Fontaine has been the subject intense criticism by some members of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) after it was revealed that he had transferred some US$27,000 from DAAS’ account to his personal account while he served as secretary and has been accused by the DLP of misappropriating the funds.
Skerrit has remained silent on the matter until the weekend.
He is now calling on Fontaine to make all records of transactions public “because you cannot say you are an economist advising governments on accountability and all those things when you yourself … you do not know what the word integrity and accountability and transparency is.”
According to the prime minister it is important that Fontaine make the records public because he had “serious financial problems.”
“Could he have used this money to pay his credit card, his used credit card debt, could he have used the money to pay his mortgage, could he have used the money for the several traffic tickets had in the US?” Skerrit said. “All these are legitimate questions but more fundamentally I believe … he need to present to us his certified bank transaction during that period of time and I am sure it will show that those funds went to DAAS to his account and to somewhere else.”
DNO attempted to contact Fontaine on the matter but was told the he is out of state.
A high ranking official of the UWP told DNO that Fontaine had already said he would not be responding personally to the issue.
However, speaking to privately-owned Q95 on Monday morning, leader of the UWP, Lennox Linton, described the entire matter as ‘nonsense’ and instead challenged Skerrit to respond to a number of matters he has been accused of.
“I think it is right of us to demand of Mr. Skerrit the truth about his possession of a French passport,” he said. “I think it is right of us to demand of Mr. Skerrit the truth about ……Mr. Chen’s $54-million. I think it is right of us to ask of Mr. Skerrit the truth of what is happening to all of those millions that he and others are pocketing from the sale of diplomatic passports and diplomatic immunity. I think it is right to ask Mr. Skerrit of the land transfer taxes where we see no payments of the interest ….that is where we have to go, we have to focus on these things because the public has been seriously injured by the cabal for $100-million…”
He said the country cannot afford to have a group of people in government fleecing hundreds of millions of dollars from the public interest “pretending that they care about people and then turning around to concoct stories on honest men of integrity so they can buy their way to another term in office…”
Dr. Clayton Shillingford, who was president of DAAS at the time Fontaine was treasurer, had already declared on radio that no funds were misappropriated during his tenure at the organization’s helm.
“Let me declare first of all that there was no misappropriation of funds from the DAAS while I was president,” Shillingford stated.