Can Chas­tanet force for­mer PM to ac­count for GRYNBERG!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE -

At his party’s last con­ven­tion the MP for the slum con­stituency of Vieux Fort South re­leased to his ec­static acolytes what must’ve sounded in their tuned ears like a ver­bal bil­let doux over­flow­ing with love and de­vo­tion—whether or not also packed with enough an­thrax to wipe out a room­ful of party faith­fuls.

His tran­sud­ing vis­age seem­ingly carved in mar­ble, the non-con­sec­u­tive three­time prime min­is­ter and party leader (cur­rently he oc­cu­pies nei­ther of­fice and is gen­er­ally blamed for Humpty Dumpty’s great fall) ref­er­enced what is ar­guably this coun­try’s most no­to­ri­ous scan­dal, pos­si­bly sec­ond only to IMPACS.

“They keep talk­ing about Grynberg,” he barked. “Well I’ll soon have news about that . . . and a lot of them will be dis­ap­pointed.” With this prime min­is­ter it had nearly al­ways been his party ver­sus them, whether by them he re­ferred to Allen or Michael Chas­tanet or both. For me the prime min­is­ter’s words sug­gested good and bad news. Well aware am I that among our pop­u­la­tion are many (ad­mit­tedly a dwin­dling num­ber in the face of un­de­ni­able re­al­ity) who’ve never smelled any­thing noi­some about the March 2000 trans­ac­tion in­volv­ing 83 mil­lion acres of Saint Lu­cia’s seabed, a no­to­ri­ous Amer­i­can oil spec­u­la­tor, an ac­com­mo­dat­ing pub­lic ser­vant and our then prime min­is­ter.

As is by now com­mon knowl­edge, no other MP was privy to the ar­range­ments, not even the gov­er­nor gen­eral who alone has the le­gal author­ity to li­cense lo­cal ex­plo­rations.

Also well known is that Jack Grynberg, CEO of the con­tract­ing com­pany RSM Cor­po­ra­tion, hav­ing been in­formed in 2007 of Prime Min­is­ter Stephen­son King’s de­ci­sion to open to pub­lic bid­ding the area of seabed in con­tention, sued for breach of con­tract and dam­ages to the tune of some USD$500 mil­lion the 2011 gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia, once again headed by Kenny An­thony. The mat­ter came be­fore the In­ter­na­tional Cen­ter for Set­tle­ment of In­vest­ment Dis­putes mere months af­ter An­thony took of­fice for the third time.

I won­dered, when the prime min­is­ter fired his re­called con­ven­tion rocket, whether his gov­ern­ment’s lawyers had pre­vailed over RSM’s Jack Grynberg. If so, what won­der­ful news for cit­i­zens of Saint Lu­cia. I imag­ined con­trol of the is­land’s seabed would be re­turned af­ter close to eleven years to its right­ful own­ers, as well as Grynberg hav­ing to pay the gov­ern­ment re­lated le­gal costs. Per­haps best of all, that the gov­ern­ment would again be free to ne­go­ti­ate with other oil in­ter­ests.

I could not for the life of me think of a rea­son why a Saint Lu­cian might be dis­ap­pointed to learn Grynberg had failed to im­press the ICSID. Was the PM sug­gest­ing some of us had been count­ing on mak­ing the Amer­i­can oil ty­coon US$500 mil­lion richer? One con­tin­ues to won­der why the prime min­is­ter chose to tit­il­late his fel­low con­ven­tion­eers rather than spill the goods on Grynberg.

Re­port­edly this is what had tran­spired: lawyers for the Saint Lu­cia gov­ern­ment that had ear­lier rep­re­sented Gre­nada against RSM’s Jack Grynberg suc­cess­fully pe­ti­tioned the ICSID to order the com­plainant to put down some $750,000 as se­cu­rity in ad­vance of a de­ter­mi­na­tion. Grynberg stub­bornly re­fused and the tri­bunal fi­nally dis­missed his pe­ti­tion with­out con­sid­er­ing its mer­its.

A per­sonal note: I’ve al­ways been far more con­cerned with whether the deal that Kenny An­thony and RSM Cor­po­ra­tion’s Jack Grynberg se­cretly en­tered into some 16 years ago was le­gal un­der Saint Lu­cia law. As ear­lier noted, it all hap­pened be­hind a near im­pen­e­tra­ble cloud of secrecy; by Earl Hunt­ley’s An­thony-en­dorsed pub­lished ac­counts, the for­mer UN Am­bas­sador (es­pe­cially fa­mous for his lead­ing role in the He­len­ites Build­ing hor­ror story) was in­structed by the PM him­self to keep to him­self all doc­u­ments re­lated to the oil deal that fi­nally came be­fore the ICSID.

The peo­ple of this coun­try need to know a lot more than we do about our for­mer PM’s in­tro­duc­tion to the in­fa­mous Jack Grynberg. How did the Amer­i­can gain se­cret ac­cess to the then prime min­is­ter? Why the or­dered secrecy? If the gov­er­nor gen­eral, as she has said, did not is­sue an ex­plo­ration li­cense to RSM then who did? What pre­cisely is the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion? Has con­trol of the seabed been re­turned to the Saint Lu­cia gov­ern­ment? Has Grynberg’s con­tract been ren­dered null and void? Is the mat­ter sched­uled to come be­fore an­other tri­bunal? How much has the whole mat­ter cost this na­tion’s tax­pay­ers—and are we likely to be fork­ing out more be­fore our seabed is re­turned to lo­cal con­trol?

Some among the lo­cal le­gal flock, ad­mit­tedly not an ea­gle among them, have sug­gested some­what offhand­edly that the mat­ter can­not be pur­sued, on the ba­sis it is statute lim­ited. Are they cor­rect? Does that mean a se­cretly cor­rupt prime min­is­ter who some­how man­ages to get him­self elected six con­sec­u­tive times would be be­yond pros­e­cu­tion if his abuses were dis­cov­ered, say, two years af­ter the peo­ple fi­nally dumped him? And if such a crook-friendly law does in fact ex­ist should it re­main a day longer on our statute books?

As I write I am in­formed that over in the U.S. ea­gle-eyed of­fi­cials at the FCPA have taken an in­ter­est in the RSM Cor­po­ra­tion mat­ter. The For­eign Cor­rupt Prac­tice Act was in­sti­tuted in 1977 for the pur­pose of mak­ing it un­law­ful for cer­tain classes of per­sons and en­ti­ties to make pay­ments to for­eign gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to as­sist in ob­tain­ing or re­tain­ing busi­ness. One way or an­other, I sus­pect we’ve not heard the last of Grynberg!

Re­cently elected prime min­is­ter allen Chas­tanet: Has he caught a green mon­ster by the tale?

Allen Chas­tanet (left) has two growl­ing tigers by the tail: IMPACS and Grynberg, both hatched un­der the watch of his pre­de­ces­sor Kenny An­thony. The burn­ing ques­tion on con­cerned minds at home and abroad— the U.S. State Depart­ment and the EU in­cluded—cen­ters on whether the new prime min­is­ter will go where An­thony feared to tread!

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