Deputy PM closes ranks around President in credit card affair

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Public Utilities Ivan Collendavelloo has jumped to the defence of the president, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, as she faces opposition calls to resign over expenditure using a credit card supplied by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) founded by controversial Angolan billionaire Alvaro Sobrinho.

“Public scrutiny must be within legal limits and this is also with respect to bank secrecy,” said Collendavelloo. “If there is no bank secrecy, that signifies the end of our corporate structures and the financial sector in the country”. The remarks were made at the 20th Corporate Reporting Awards by PwC in Ebene.  Collendavelloo, who heads the Muvman Liberater (ML), which is a junior partner in the ruling coalition headed by the MSM, echoed those made by fellow party member and Tourism Minister Anil Gayan who said that he “found it strange that the newspaper has jeopardized the image of a banking institution”.  The remarks indicate a closing of the ML ranks around the president.

The comments refer to an article published by l’express this week purporting to show that the president used a Barclays Bank credit card supplied by the PEI to buy merchandise in Dubai, Washington DC, jewelry in Mauritius, Italy as well as to pay hotel bills and airline tickets. Gurib-Fakim also briefly served as vice-president of the PEI before resigning after a popular outcry. After criticism of Sobrinho’s dealings in Mauritius emerged, the president in March last year promised to conduct an investigation – something which was not followed through.

The latest revelations come as an embarrassment to the government and Collendavelloo’s party in particular since Gurib-Fakim was handpicked by the ML for the presidency in the run-up to the 2014 general elections. Collendavelloo himself has also come under fire for his proximity with the Angolan billionaire after he insisted last year that Sobrinho’s money was “clean”.

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Un nouveau scandale défraie la chronique depuis le mercredi 28 février à Maurice. Cette fois-ci cela concerne ni plus ni moins la garante de notre Constitution, son excellence Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, présidente de la République. Elle a dépensé plusieurs centaines de milliers de roupies pour des achats personnels, entre autres, sur une carte de crédit Platinum offerte par la Planet Earth Institute, la fondation d’Álvaro Sobrinho, homme d’affaires angolais hautement controversé. Retrouvez tous les articles concernant cette affaire dans notre dossier spécial : Platinum Card. Une enquête exclusive de l’express.

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