Antigua: PM Browne, AG say gov’t knew nothing about PV Energy fraudster

“We had no clue,” is what Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda said when asked if his government knew that a man who was involved in a US$4.3 million fraud scandal over a decade ago, Jo Hanns Dieter Trutschler, was connected to the United Kingdom (UK) company PV Energy Limited.

“We never met Mr. Trutschler [even] up to this day and had no knowledge of his involvement [in PV Energy]. Peter Virdee was introduced to the Cabinet as the Principal of PV Energy,” Browne replied yesterday when messaged.

Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, Attorney General, said he was similarly unaware of who Trutschler was or his connection to PV Energy. When messaged, Benjamin said the government would “never enter into negotiations” with anyone “under such circumstances.”

“That is why there is due diligence,” the Attorney General declared. Yet, the government’s due diligence, evidently failed to discover that one of the men involved in the company, Trutschler, was reportedly involved in a 2002 fraud scandal in Kosovo.

According to a November 13, 2003 report from the United Nations’ (UN’s) Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), Trutschler illegally diverted US$4.3 million from “the public electricity provider in Serbia” to a bank account under his control in Gibraltar while he was working in Kosovo in 2002.

At the time, he was a senior staff member of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), a job he apparently secured using fake academic qualifications, again according to the U.N. report.

Our newsroom sourced the 2003 document online. It states that in addition to the money which he diverted into accounts he controlled, Trutschler “unlawfully obtained a further amount of €220,000 of UNMIK funds through the submission of false invoices.”

A German citizen, his actions were referred to law enforcement in that country, and he was convicted in Germany for breach of trust, forgery and misuse of an academic title and sentenced to three years and six months in prison.

On Wednesday, the prime minister said that it was Asot Michael, the then energy minister, who introduced PV Energy’s principal, British millionaire and property tycoon Peter Virdee, the public face of PV Energy, to the Cabinet and that Trutschler was never mentioned.



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