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

For un­fath­omable rea­sons, many in this Chris­tian coun­try of ours seem to take last­ing plea­sure in say­ing, with ref­er­ence to sus­pect gov­ern­ment ac­tiv­i­ties: “For­get about it; dat dead ar­ready; move on move on!” As far back as 1998 Sir Louis Blom-Cooper had stated in his re­port re­lated to an in­quiry ini­ti­ated by the newly elected Kenny An­thony gov­ern­ment into a trio of events in pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion in the 1990s: “I have dis­cerned a cul­ture in Saint Lu­cia of stud­ied in­dif­fer­ence or, at the very least, inat­ten­tion to the prac­tice, even the concept, of pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity—a cul­tural cli­mate in which ad­min­is­tra­tive tor­por is of­ten the con­se­quence, and mal­prac­tices in gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing cor­rup­tion, can thrive un­ham­pered by de­tec­tion or, if and when un­cov­ered, by dis­ci­plinary ac­tion . . .”

Ad­di­tion­ally: “The sus­pi­cion in the pub­lic’s mind that the machin­ery of gov­ern­ment is not work­ing, and con­se­quently that cor­rup­tion is rife, is almost as dam­ag­ing to the pub­lic weal as in­di­vid­ual cor­rup­tion it­self. Saint Lu­cians should be as­sured that fail­ures and mal­prac­tices in gov­ern­ment, once iden­ti­fied, will not go pub­licly un­no­ticed. Only a sys­tem of pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity can en­sure that.”

Quite ob­vi­ously Kenny An­thony paid lit­tle at­ten­tion to Sir Louis’ warn­ing when he en­tered into a se­cret ar­range­ment with a con­tro­ver­sial oil spec­u­la­tor from Den­ver, Colorado—in­fa­mous in th­ese parts for his le­gal bat­tles with the gov­ern­ment of Gre­nada back in 1997 over the lease of that is­land’s sea bed. In 2000 had An­thony signed an agree­ment with Jack Grynberg grant­ing him “ex­clu­sive lease over Saint Lu­cia’s marine area, ex­tend­ing to the ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone ar­eas, for the con­duct of seis­mic ex­ploratory work . . .”

The lease was granted for an ini­tial pe­riod of four years, to March 2004, but with a fa­cil­ity to ap­ply for two two-year ex­ten­sions dur­ing the ex­ploratory stage. Six months after the agree­ment was signed Jack Grynberg’s com­pany, RSM, had con­ducted no ac­tual ex­ploratory work. Nev­er­the­less he pre­sented an amend­ment to the agree­ment that was signed by the orig­i­nal par­ties to the agree­ment. Ef­fec­tively the amend­ment en­larged the agree­ment area and in­voked Sec­tion 24, re­lat­ing to force ma­jeure.

The ef­fect was “the sus­pen­sion of all of RSM’s obli­ga­tions un­der the agree­ment un­til such time as the gov­ern­ment es­tab­lished be­yond all doubt Saint Lu­cia’s mar­itime bound­aries and con­trol over petroleum in all the area. The gov­ern­ment rat­i­fied the en­force­ment of the force ma­jeure pro­vi­sion that was based on the propo­si­tion that Saint Lu­cia had bound­ary dis­putes with its neigh­bors.” A sec­ond amend­ment was pre­sented in March 2004 and agreed to by the con­cerned par­ties. We need not go into fur­ther de­tails of the con­tract. Suf­fice it to say that in 2012 Jack Grynberg sued this coun­try’s gov­ern­ment for breach of con­tract. Although de­tails of the ar­range­ment re­main largely un­known, Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony promised he would “vig­or­ously dis­pute and con­test the pro­ceed­ings” to be con­ducted, as per con­tract, be­fore ICSID. The prime min­is­ter added that his at­tor­ney gen­eral had al­ready se­cured at­tor­neys to rep­re­sent the na­tion’s in­ter­ests.

Less than a year later the gover­nor gen­eral, re­spond­ing to a query from the leader of the House op­po­si­tion, re­vealed she had “no per­sonal or first-hand knowl­edge of any con­tract, ar­range­ment or agree­ment made by any­one or en­tity in or out­side gov­ern­ment with Mr. Jack Grynberg or his Cor­po­ra­tion.” She added that “no such con­tract, ar­range­ment or agree­ment was ever brought to my at­ten­tion in my ca­pac­ity as gover­nor gen­eral. That sub­ject was never dis­cussed with me . . . My ad­vice was never sought and I played no part what­so­ever in any­thing that may have tran­spired then or at any time sub­se­quently.”

The Saint Lu­cia Con­sti­tu­tion, at Sec­tion 65 says: “The prime min­is­ter shall keep the gover­nor gen­eral fully in­formed con­cern­ing the gen­eral con­duct of the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia and shall fur­nish the gover­nor gen­eral with such in­for­ma­tion as he may re­quest with re­spect to any par­tic­u­lar mat­ter re­lat­ing to the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia.” More­over, the gover­nor gen­eral alone, un­der Saint Lu­cia’s Min­er­als (Vest­ing) Act, has au­thor­ity for is­su­ing ex­plo­ration li­censes.

It emerged earlier this year that the gov­ern­ment’s lawyers, based on Grynberg’s rep­u­ta­tion, had suc­cess­fully pe­ti­tioned the ICSID to put down US$275,000 as se­cu­rity in case his claim was not up­held. Grynberg stub­bornly re­fused. Con­se­quently, his case was dis­missed with­out a hear­ing.

Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet con­firmed sev­eral weeks ago that “the Grynberg case was closed.” Nev­er­the­less, the new leader of gov­ern­ment let drop that there were still sev­eral unan­swered re­lated ques­tions, in­clud­ing the au­thor­ity by which de­fense lawyers had been paid. He did not say at the time whether con­trol of the Saint Lu­cia seabed had been re­stored to the peo­ple of this coun­try. In all events, it has come to light that some three weeks ago the gov­ern­ment’s lawyers no­ti­fied Prime Min­is­ter Chas­tanet that Jack Grynberg had de­cided to ap­peal the ICSID de­ci­sion. The mat­ter is sched­uled for hear­ing in March next year.

As I write there still has been no an­nounce­ment from the gov­ern­ment, let alone de­tails of the con­tract al­legedly breached in 2011. It will be in­ter­est­ing to dis­cover on what ba­sis the peo­ple paid some $2 mil­lion dol­lars to lawyers in the ini­tial breach of con­tract mat­ter— and what the ap­peal will cost. An­other big ques­tion cen­ters on whether the Grynberg is­sue can be con­sid­ered a mat­ter be­tween Kenny An­thony and Jack Grynberg, bear­ing in mind its his­tory that in­volved only one mem­ber of gov­ern­ment!

Just when it seemed Kenny was off the hook, case closed, mil­lion­aire Colorado oil­man de­cides to ap­peal ICSID de­ci­sion to dis­miss with­out hear­ing his case! The ques­tion is: Will tax­pay­ers foot the bills again, no ques­tions asked?

Three prime min­is­ters have been con­fronted by the omi­nous pos­si­bil­i­ties of the Jack Grynberg is­sue. The ques­tion re­mains: When will the mat­ter be re­solved—and at what cost to the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia? Left to right: Kenny An­thony (the ini­tia­tor), Sir John Comp­ton, Stephen­son King, Allen Chas­tanet.

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