GRYNBERG VER­DICT IS IN! Re­cently elected Allen Chas­tanet: Does he have a tiger by the tale!

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

What has be­come known sim­ply as “Grynberg”—al­though it rep­re­sents sev­eral things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple, mostly egre­gious gov­ern­ment— was un­til some ten years ago this na­tion’s best-kept se­cret, shared only by a highly priv­i­leged grue­some three­some: the day’s prime min­is­ter, one public ser­vant of unique re­pute, and a no­to­ri­ous oil spec­u­la­tor based in Den­ver, Colorado.

Ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments ac­cessed with much dif­fi­culty by this writer, in March 2000 Jack Grynberg had en­tered into an ar­range­ment with Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony that ini­tially granted the oil­man a four-year lease over mil­lions of Saint Lu­cia’s seabed “for the con­duct of seis­mic ex­ploratory work.” If oil and gas were dis­cov­ered, his com­pany RSM Cor­po­ra­tion would, as per agree­ment, ap­ply for a fur­ther de­vel­op­ment li­cense for 30 years with a fa­cil­ity for a 20year ex­ten­sion.

Six months af­ter the agree­ment was signed, that is to say, well into Septem­ber 2000, there had been no ac­tual ex­ploratory work. Nada! In­stead RSM pre­sented an amend­ment to the agree­ment that in­cluded an ex­ten­sion of the ex­ploratory pe­riod for another three years. It also con­tained the same pro­vi­sion ear­lier stip­u­lated, wherein “all of RSM’s obligations are sus­pended un­til all bound­aries are re­solved.” This po­si­tion was again signed by the day’s Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony, ev­i­dently un­wit­nessed.

No Cab­i­net con­clu­sion ex­ists that ref­er­ences the above. The mat­ter was never men­tioned in par­lia­ment. In an an­gry let­ter to an in­quir­ing op­po­si­tion leader Stephen­son King dated 3 June 2013, the gov­er­nor gen­eral Dame Pear­lette Louisy re­vealed she had no knowl­edge of, let alone con­trib­uted to, the Grynberg trans­ac­tion—de­spite that she alone was at the time of sign­ing, as now, the only per­son au­tho­rized by the Min­er­als (Vest­ing) Act to is­sue ex­plo­ration li­censes.

In 2006 Kenny An­thony’s Labour Party ad­min­is­tra­tion fell vic­tim to the UWP, ini­tially headed by Sir John and later by Stephen­son King. Re­tired public ser­vant Earl Huntley (re­ferred to in Jack Grynberg’s of­fi­cial cor­re­spon­dence as a friend, project co­or­di­na­tor and rep­re­sen­ta­tive) at­tempted sev­eral times to per­suade Sir John to co­op­er­ate with RSM, all with­out suc­cess. King (who con­tro­ver­sially suc­ceeded the de­ceased Comp­ton in 2007) was still prime min­is­ter when he no­ti­fied Jack Grynberg of his de­ci­sion not to honor his ar­range­ments with Kenny An­thony.

In a let­ter dated 10 April 2008 King in­formed RSM that he con­sid­ered Grynberg’s March 2000 con­tract with Kenny An­thony ex­pired. He also took the op­por­tu­nity to in­vite the Amer­i­can to join other bid­ders for ex­plo­ration rights “in the sub­ject area.” Grynberg re­sponded with a threat that he would sue for breach of con­tract if King did not change course. But by the time the oil­man put his words into le­gal ac­tion in 2012, Kenny An­thony was back in the prime min­is­ter’s saddle, there­fore, an­swer­able.

Even at this stage the prime min­is­ter chose to keep to him­self all he knew about the Grynberg dis­as­ter. He did ac­knowl­edge in a press re­lease, how­ever, that his at­tor­ney gen­eral had as­sessed Grynberg’s claims and ad­vised his gov­ern­ment vig­or­ously dis­pute them with the as­sis­tance of spe­cial­ist for­eign lawyers. It later emerged that five of the world’s most ex­pen­sive lawyers were re­tained, four Amer­i­can and one from the UK. The mat­ter came be­fore a tri­bunal of the In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Set­tle­ment of In­ter­na­tional Dis­putes in Oc­to­ber 2013, in New York City.

On 15 July 2016 the re­cently elected Chas­tanet gov­ern­ment was of­fi­cially no­ti­fied that the ICSID tri­bunal had dis­missed Grynberg’s breach of con­tract suit and its at­tached $US400 mil­lion dam­ages claim—with­out ever considering its mer­its. In short, the ICSID panel had de­cided not to give the no­to­ri­ous schemer a hear­ing un­til he had set aside, as or­dered, US$750,000 as guar­an­tee of the gov­ern­ment’s hefty le­gal costs and other as­so­ci­ated fees, should the fi­nal rul­ing prove not in his fa­vor.

Allen Chas­tanet must now de­cide whether not yet VAT-

re­lieved, over-bur­dened tax­pay­ers should foot the bill for a de­ci­sion taken sur­rep­ti­tiously by Kenny An­thony six­teen years ago. (Does Fren­well come to mind? Does Rochamel?)

In its cir­cum­stances, then, does the con­tract Jack Grynberg and Kenny An­thony signed and re­signed in 2000 rep­re­sent a gov­ern­ment trans­ac­tion? Should the cur­rent prime min­is­ter re­quire his tight-lipped pre­de­ces­sor to tell the peo­ple how the Grynberg ar­range­ment came about in the first place? And if the an­swers to both ques­tions should be no, then where do we go from here? Will Kenny An­thony be forced to pay up? What if he made ad­vance pay­ments to his lawyers out of the Con­sol­i­dated Fund with­out par­lia­men­tary ap­proval? Doubt­less, Chas­tanet’s in­her­ited at­tor­ney gen­eral will ad­vise ap­pro­pri­ately.

To para­phrase Ge­orge Od­lum: For too long the peo­ple have been taken on too many rides. It is high time politi­cians caught with their hands in the prover­bial cookie jar re­ceive the same treat­ment ac­corded reg­u­lar cit­i­zens in sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances!

How long be­fore Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet (left) re­veals to the na­tion the details and con­se­quences of the con­tract be­tween his pre­de­ces­sor Kenny An­thony (right) and RSM CEO Cor­po­ra­tion Jack Grynberg?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.