Former St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastenet confirmed on Tuesday that his administration had hired Radical Investments, operated by prominent local developer Mark Maloney, to procure the AstraZeneca vaccine as part of a regional bulk-purchasing arrangement between the Barbados, St Lucia and Bahamas governments.
That arrangement is now the subject of a suit filed recently in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida by Radical Investments against Good Vibrations Entertainment LLC, the purported supplier of the vaccines and a number of other businesses and individuals involved in the attempt to purchase the vaccines. The order for the jabs was never fulfilled leaving the plaintiff millions of dollars out-of-pocket.
But Minister of Health and Wellness Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic on Tuesday flatly denied knowing any such company.
“I am afraid I do not know anything about Radical Investments Ltd so I cannot comment on this one,” Minister Bostic told Barbados TODAY in a very brief WhatsApp statement.
But Chastenet, whose United Workers Party (UWP) was ousted from power at the polls on July 26 this year, said his former government entered the arrangement because Barbados and The Bahamas were taking part and because Radical Investments was a reputable business.
“We worked through Radical. It was on the basis of the reputation of Radical and the fact that three countries were involved, Barbados, The Bahamas and St Lucia,” the ex-PM disclosed.
Asked if Radical was a St Lucia or Barbados company Chastenet replied: “I’m not sure. I just know Mr Maloney.”
The former PM said he did not know if Maloney owned or operated the company.
Pressed as to whether Radical had a track record he declared: “They would have had a track record, yes.”
“It was very difficult. They had many different people approaching us and due diligence was done. None of us could do it. Similar deals were being put together with the African groups. So many different groups that had come together. It took us a long time before we settled on a person. So getting a company involved with reputable people, that was a key factor and the fact that other countries in the region were also involved,” Chastenet told Barbados TODAY.
The former St Lucia leader said up to the time of leaving office, the delivery of the vaccines was still pending.
“I know we waited a very long time. Every week was another situation, and we just kept holding. Sadly in our case, we actually paid some money,” he complained.
In a letter dated April 20, 2021 and signed by the Director of Finance in St Lucia, that government approved EC$7.3 million as its contribution to buy 100,000 doses of the vaccine.
Radical Investments Ltd.’s court claim is that it was deceived and lured into an elaborate scam to advance the sum of US$10.2 million for one million non-existent doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The claim alleges that on or around late March or early April, 2021, Maloney, the principal of Radical Investments, was introduced by Cheryl Chamley, a Trinidadian national who resides in the United States and works in the PPE sector to the principal of Good Vibrations Alex Lee Moore.
Chamley and Maloney are said to be business associates in the claim.
It is also stated in the claim that Radical had been authorized by the Barbados Government’s Ministry of Health and Wellness to procure vaccines on its behalf. The purchase price for the undelivered vaccines was to be US$10.2 million.
Efforts to reach Maloney on Tuesday were futile.