Gaston Browne Misled Us and Must Come Clean on Government’s Agreement to Rent His Son’s Property

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room
Richard LEWIS

Gaston Browne Misled Us and Must Come Clean on Government’s Agreement to Rent His Son’s Property

Checks at the Office of Intellectual Property have confirmed that the Prime Minister’s son is the sole owner of the property occupied by government offices on Friars Hill Road, through his sole directorship of “investment group” IF Antigua Inc.

This means that the Prime Minister, yet again, has deliberately attempted to mislead us.

On Thursday February 22, I utilized Prime Minister’s Questions to ask the Prime Minister for details about the property on Friars Hill Road currently housing the Development Control Authority (DCA), The Ministry of Lands and Housing, and the Land Office.

He responded: “Mr. Speaker that property is owned by an investment group, and I will disclose that my son has some interest in it and I’ll add here too that they are providing rent-free services to DCA.”

In his response, the Prime Minister tried to give the impression that there are multiple owners – an investment group, and his son – even though he knew that his son is the sole owner (as sole director of IF Antigua Inc).

Gaston A. Browne lll

It is also laughable that the Prime Minister referred to his son’s 1-director company as an “investment group.”

This revelation begs the question: why did Gaston Browne try to mislead the public about the true ownership of the property?

What else is he hiding from us?

The Lease Agreement, which commits the Government to paying rent at a rate of $1 per month, also authorises the making of repairs and additions to the building.

The PM stated in Parliament that cost of rent not paid (at market rates) exceeds the cost of repairs already made to the building. However we have no figures on exactly how much has been spent to improve his son’s property thus far and by how much this expenditure exceeds the fair rental value up to present.


Further, the Public deserves to know if there are plans to make additions to the property as permitted by the Lease Agreement.

The absence of verifiable information on the Government’s future plans and the real costs of this arrangement, makes the $1 per month rental highly suspicious.

At present, the taxpayers of Antigua and Barbuda have absolutely no evidence that this arrangement represents value for money, and they are justifiably concerned.

It would be evil beyond measure to have yet another Browne family creative enrichment scheme unfolding at the same time ordinary citizens are suffering under the weight of Gaston Browne’s tax onslaught and skyrocketing cost of living.

I call on the Prime Minister to fully publish all pertinent details surrounding this lease agreement, including all expenditures and plans to upgrade or add on to the property.

The tax-paying public demands and deserves answers to their many questions:

– Was the property originally owned by West Indies Oil Company?

– How did the Prime Minister’s son acquire the property?

– Was the information of the proposed sale of the property by WIOC shared with the public?

– Why did Government decide to rent property from the Prime Minister’s son, without disclosing that to the general public?

– Did the rental go out to tender before being awarded to the Prime Minister’s son?

– Was this the most reasonable priced space available on the island? And were any alternatives considered?

– Did the fact that all government offices within his son’s building fall under the Ministerial Portfolio of his wife Hon. Maria Browne influence the decision? And did his wife play a part in the decision?

– Did the Government spend a fair amount on the repairs?

– How could the Prime Minister claim that what is owed in rent exceeds what the Government spent on repairs, yet be unable to give even an estimated figure on the cost to the tax-paying public?

The lack of verifiable information around this rental arrangement is completely unacceptable, reeks of nepotism, and warrants further investigation.

Government resources must be spent in a responsible and accountable way, especially by an administration who is raising taxes left and right and center.

Richard S. Lewis MP

Further information:

The PM’s response during Question’s to Ministers on February 22:

The full Lease Agreement and IF Antigua Inc Company record:

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