The organiser of an online fundraising page has denied allegations made by the prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis that his efforts are a scam.
Conflicting reports have emerged from both sides over whether officials were contacted over the plans.
Earlier this week a page appeared on YouCaring.com, a crowdfunding platform for humanitarian causes. WIC News was contacted soon after the page went live by someone concerned about its legitimacy.
The page claims “all donations will be used to assist the nation of St Kitts and Nevis in their rebuilding efforts as the extent of the damage becomes clear.”
At around 10am AST on Tuesday, Prime Minister Timothy Harris took to Twitter and wrote: “SCAM WEBSITE SOLICITING HURRICANE IRMA FUNDS FOR ST.KITTS NEVIS… Police are investigating.”
Times Caribbean reported that police were actively looking into the matter but WIC News have been unable to independently confirm this with the Royal St Christopher and Nevis Police Force.
And David Hancock, owner of On the Rock Fitness Company Ltd, told WIC News that he has spoken to a number of senior figures – including the commissioner of police – and that he was informed there was no active investigation as “they know who we are and trust our intentions”.
“I made the decision to begin a YouCaring fundraising campaign when it became clear that Hurricane Irma was going to be a significant and devastating event for us,” said Hancock.
“I thought it best to start the fundraising early because of the high likelihood that we will be without power for quite some time.
“My intent has always been pure and honest. Prior to launching the fundraising effort, I notified the legal team at CrossFit and requested their approval.
“Additionally, I reached out to Charity Navigator to request advice, guidance, and inform them of my intention to conduct this fundraising effort.”
Hurricane Irma left St Kitts and Nevis relatively unharmed during it’s passage.
WIC News understands that Hancock’s company, trading as On the Rock CrossFit, received their business license from the St Kitts and Nevis Department of Inland Revenue on 28 July 2017.
The page was briefly taken down from the crowdfunding site at the request of the government, but it is now online again.
So far it has raised $10.
Josephine Huggins, cabinet secretary, was named as someone “spoken to at length” by Hancock and his partner.
“Transparency is vital in efforts such as this and I pledge that this effort to be no different.
“As I noted on our fundraising page, I will be disclosing every transaction that is made with donated funds and I welcome a government audit of the process at any time.
“I sincerely apologise for any confusion that I may have caused.”
A source close to the prime minister contacted WIC News on yesterday and said “no one in the government had received contact from them.”
Hancock offered to show “phone records and evidence” of his discussion with the cabinet secretary if necessary.
The office of the prime minister has been contacted for additional comment on this matter.