BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 21st February 2020) – Dr. Geoffrey Hanley continues to push back against criticisms of money mishandling of the former People Employment Programme (PEP), saying “there were no forms of corruption” during his term as manager.
The candidate for the opposition St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) for Constituency One (East Basseterre) responded to a question posed by this media house at the Party’s latest monthly press conference in held in January 2020 concerning allegations going about social media.
“I am happy to report that the PEP programme had a management committee. This committee had all competent professionals; some still continue to serve this present government and maybe even the step programme. There were no forms of corruption taking place in the PEP programme while I managed the PEP programme. I don’t know if they can speak that confidently about the STEP programme.”
He added: “With an organisation like what we had, there must be someone responsible for the financial aspect of it and that would have been in place and that person and the team, they would have been responsible for all of our financial transactions that would have taken place. How could one just take government money and put it in somebody’s account or whatever? All of this, in my view, is utter nonsense.”
Dr. Hanley was the immediate past PEP manager before the change of the SKNLP administration to the now Team Unity government following the February 2015 General Elections. PEP has been changed to STEP (Skills Training Empowerment Program) under the new government.
Additionally, while speaking at the recent SKNLP media event, Dr. Hanley highlighted that he has heard about an investigation being carried out.
“Imagine an investigation taking place in almost five years and I would have been retired almost two years. In government practice, anything you have against a civil servant, you use that opportunity to do all your investigation to say if there are any monies or anything that needs to be deducted from your pension, your gratuity…”
According to him, the government wants the general public to lose focus of its corruption.
“What is happening is that they want the general public to lose focus of the corruption that is taking place right now and change their minds in reference to this. All files were handed over to the government so they’re quite aware of exactly what transpired in the programme.”
Meanwhile, at the Prime Minister’s press conference held on Thursday 13th February 2020, when asked by a reporter for an update on the PEP investigation , Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris- having called Dr. Hanley’s name- pointed to “substantial sums that have been involved” while making other claims on the alleged issue.
“So that matter is an ongoing matter. What the investigation will reveal at the end, certain we have to allow them to complete…” he said in part whilst also indicating that the investigation has to take “due process and time”.
In November 2018, Dr. Hanley’s political office informed- via a press statement- that he had retained “counsel to pursue legal action against timescaribbeanonline.com and its shady actors for defamation and criminal libel through an article published on its website on November 15, 2018.”
“In Dr. Hanley’s view, the article promulgates an innuendo of wrongdoing on his part in relation to the PEP programme. Dr. Hanley categorically and forthrightly denies any wrongdoing whatsoever over the 28 years of his public service career and calls upon timescaribbeanonline.com, the political mouthpiece of the Dr. Timothy Harris-led administration, to remove the referenced offending article from its website and to refrain from publishing any such false or misleading information about him or his tenure in the public service,” the press statement also included.