Europeans Join Anti-Antigua Smear Campaign

As Antigua and Barbuda announced it would take action to counter the smear campaign launched by investors who lost money in Allen Stanford’s alleged US$8 billion fraud, a group of Europeans gave its support to the Americans and Latin Americans in their boycott calls.

The Stanford Victims Coalition (SVC) European Group is demanding that the Baldwin Spencer administration hand over Stanford property or suffer the consequences. It wants the government to act in accordance with a treaty which the investors said was co-signed with Germany and the United Kingdom.

Just last Friday, it was announced that Minister of State in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Senator Joanne Massiah, who is also an attorney, had been chosen to spearhead government’s response to the ‘Anti-Antigua’ campaign that was launched by the SVC’s US group at the New York Times Travel Show last month.

“Owing to the viciousness of this campaign and the overwhelming negative effects it could have on our economy and citizens’ welfare, government cannot afford a simple knee-jerk reaction that could do more harm than good,” Senator Massiah was quoted in the ministry statement. The announcement followed weeks of questions about how the government intended to respond to the investors’ offensive. After the Americans launched their campaign to get travel agents, tourists and investors to stop supporting the country, the Latin American group said the move had its backing and it would be aiming to get a boycott of cruise lines which continue to stop in Antigua and Barbuda.

Then, this weekend, the Europeans issued their statement.

“The European Branch of the SVC would like the Prime Minister and his government to invoke Articles 4, 5 and 6 of the treaty that was co-signed by Antigua and the United Kingdom and also Germany ‘For the Promotion and Protection of Investments’,” the statement said, noting that Article 4 of the Treaty addresses the Compensation for losses, Article 5 addresses Expropriation of land and assets by governments, and Article 6 addresses the Repatriation of Investment and Returns.

“We demand they honour the treaty,” the investors insisted. “Return the lands and assets ‘expropriated’, make good the loans of around $230 million dollars they acquired from Stanford and begin talks with the government leaders of Great Britain, Germany, France, the United States and all other countries involved. This will send a clear signal to the rest of the world that Antigua takes its obligations seriously and intends to clean up its international reputation.”

They have alleged, like the American investors, that the Spencer administration has refused to engage in dialogue with the investors.

“The government of Antigua has been given every opportunity to deal with this matter and correct their error in judgement when they seized the Stanford lands and property…For over one year the government of Antigua have steadfastly refused to enter into any debate or contact with the SVC, despite repeated letters and requests for them to do so,” they added.

The Europeans have warned that their campaign will be conducted throughout the whole of Europe and “the repercussions of this action will resound throughout the whole of the island and will affect every person living there.”

In addition to the boycott campaign, Stanford investors have filed class-action lawsuits seeking US$24 billion in compensation from Antigua and Barbuda.

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