Due Dili­gence Be­gins at Home . . . like Char­ity!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

Soon after the Al­lan Louisy ad­min­is­tra­tion re­placed that of John Comp­ton I sought the coun­sel of the al­most at­tor­ney-gen­eral-for­life and a long-time friend, Parry Husbands. I needed to know the op­tions of a cit­i­zen con­cerned about the out­come of a coroner’s in­quest. Parry ad­vised that if said cit­i­zen was in pos­ses­sion of new and com­pelling ev­i­dence it might be pos­si­ble, with the all-im­por­tant co­op­er­a­tion of the at­tor­ney gen­eral of course, to have the sus­pect in­quest re­opened. The one I had in mind in­volved— wait for it!—two trig­ger-happy cops. The year was 1979!

Parry’s re­place­ment at the AG’s of­fice as­sured me he shared my con­cern for the sorry state of the lo­cal jus­tice sys­tem. Alas, his dis­com­fort was not nearly so se­vere as to dis­tract him from his reg­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties. De­spite his ex­pressed con­trary sen­ti­ments, the AG chose to re­main faith­ful to Luke’s “let the dead bury their dead.”

As for my ear­lier fel­low seek­ers after jus­tice, they too had un­der­gone a sea change once their party was in of­fice. “De man dead ar­ready; noth­ing any­one can do will bring him back. Why you want to sad­dle our govern­ment with the sins of its pre­de­ces­sor?” It didn’t help that the ca­su­alty of the lat­est “death by mis­ad­ven­ture” had kept him­self alive from the pro­ceeds of grass dis­posal— al­beit not the va­ri­ety usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with STEP.

As I say, the long dearly de­parted Parry Husbands came to mind this week.

And not be­cause of the trou­ble­some rel­a­tively re­cent in­quests re­lated to the 201011 fa­tal po­lice shoot­ings of “twelve cit­i­zens deemed to be crim­i­nals.” Be­lieve it or not, what re­turned Parry to life, in my head, at any rate, was the Kenny An­thony govern­ment’s Cit­i­zen­ship By In­vest­ment project—al­ready signed, sealed and ir­re­versibly de­liv­ered, what­ever else to the con­trary you may have read or heard. The demons of des­per­a­tion in­spire dis­as­trous no­tions in the febrile minds of un­con­scionable men fresh out of op­tions, es­pe­cially with the silly sea­son upon them!

It seems to me our best brains are less in­ter­ested in the pos­si­ble end­less con­se­quences of per­mit­ting our­selves to be bought by for­eign­ers with whom we have noth­ing in com­mon, who quite pos­si­bly se­cretly de­spise us, if only be­cause we had given them the im­pres­sion that we had learned no lessons from our slave his­tory.

Un­like our protest­ing an­ces­tors, mil­lions of whom were forcibly re­moved from their home­lands by armed strangers to be sold to other strangers like farm an­i­mals and beasts of bur­den, we seem not to mind at all that our elected pro­tec­tors had de­cided—in our best in­ter­est, of course—to pimp our souls out in the names of the no­to­ri­ous twins Progress and De­vel­op­ment. (Re­mem­ber when the of­fi­cial plan was to blow the top off Gros Pi­ton to ac­com­mo­date the in­stal­la­tion of cable cars and a faux Amerindian vil­lage—the twisted tourism-re­lated vision of a nutty Amer­i­can en­tre­pre­neur? Thank Derek Wal­cott and, yes, this news­pa­per, that the idea never went past the “ap­proval in prin­ci­ple” stage.

When I ex­pressed to him my con­cerns about the Cit­i­zen­ship by In­vest­ment pro­gram, an ir­ra­tionally ex­u­ber­ant con­nected lawyer ac­quain­tance sug­gested I pe­ruse the of­fi­cial re­port on the sub­ject, pre­pared for the govern­ment by for­mer prime min­is­ter Vaughan Lewis and In­vest Saint Lu­cia’s McHale An­drew (re­port­edly with as­sis­tance from two or three pre­sum­ably thinka­like in­di­vid­u­als, none nearly as fa­mous as the ear­lier men­tioned dy­namic duo). I did as ad­vised and was soon struck by the fol­low­ing: “Like other coun­tries in the region, Saint Lu­cia has now to earn its way to pros­per­ity and that re­quires vision, in­no­va­tive and pur­pose­ful pol­icy for­mu­la­tion, and a skill­fully ex­e­cuted na­tional agenda.”

Did the quoted words make you blink, dear reader? It cer­tainly stopped me. After all, was there ever a way to pros­per­ity that did not de­mand vision, in­no­va­tion, pur­pose­ful poli­cies and a skill­fully ex­e­cuted agenda? Ac­cord­ing to LewisAn­drew & Com­pany Saint Lu­cia’s two most im­por­tant at­tributes are “its nat­u­ral beauty and the warmth and friend­li­ness of its peo­ple.” By their pre­sumed ed­u­cated reck­on­ing, the two at­tributes were re­spon­si­ble for the “nat­u­ral al­lure that un­der­pins the of­fer­ings and prom­ise of this is­land state.”

Lewis-An­drew & Com­pany as­sured us via their re­port that all of our suc­cess­ful en­ter­prises, whether in tourism or in “smart man­u­fac­tur­ing” or agro­pro­cess­ing, “in some man­ner em­brace those two at­tributes.” How­ever, the fruits of our al­lure were not nearly enough to keep the big bad wolf of eco­nomic dis­as­ter from our man­i­cured front doors. Our sur­vival now de­pends on more than just our nat­u­ral beauty, our warmth and our ad­ver­tised bon­homie, ac­cord­ing to Lewis. We needed some­thing that would al­low us to make “that trans­for­ma­tive dent that is so much needed to spur the coun­try’s growth and de­vel­op­ment.” We needed to in­vest in the Global Res­i­dence and Cit­i­zen­ship In­dus­try.

As if des­per­ate to honey up the sell, Lewis-An­drew of­fered the no­tion that cit­i­zen­ship should no longer be seen as strictly na­tional. More­over, the ma­jor­ity of rich folk were seek­ing “a ju­ris­dic­tion where their wealth is pro­tected, and where it can grow; so­cial and eco­nomic sta­bil­ity; se­cu­rity and pre­dictabil­ity; a sus­tain­able ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem; a clean en­vi­ron­ment; an open and tol­er­ant so­ci­ety; free­dom, rule of law and peace.” For which Saint Lu­cia was uni­ver­sally fa­mous.

Still quot­ing from the Lewis-An­drew doc­u­ment: “Ex­ter­nal re­search and analy­ses of wealth in­tel­li­gence and ver­i­fi­ca­tion show that some 25 per­cent of all global cit­i­zens are choos­ing the Caribbean region as their pre­ferred des­ti­na­tion.

While this can be at­trib­uted to the rel­a­tive low in­vest­ment en­try lev­els, as com­pared to other avail­able pro­grams, this re­veals the region’s po­ten­tial, and one from which Saint Lu­cia can ben­e­fit.”

We ar­rive fi­nally at the heart of the pro­gram: “Due Dili­gence and Ver­i­fi­ca­tion of Poli­cies.” When it comes to the global res­i­dence and cit­i­zen­ship pro­gram, the Lewis re­port ob­serves, “the process of back­ground and ver­i­fi­ca­tion of the ap­pli­cants is an es­sen­tial part and in­te­gral el­e­ment of the due dili­gence process. When it comes to global res­i­dence and cit­i­zen­ship pro­grams this is of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance, for their in­tegrity is key to pub­lic sup­port of the pro­gram. It is worth not­ing that the due dili­gence and back­ground ver­i­fi­ca­tion is

also crit­i­cal for the over­all pro­cess­ing of the ap­pli­ca­tion.”

The re­port takes into con­sid­er­a­tion that “at the do­mes­tic level, cit­i­zens are con­cerned about di­lut­ing the value of their cit­i­zen­ship and pass­port and loss of free-visa ac­cess to coun­tries.” Once again the fly in the oint­ment was ig­no­rance: “Many fears and con­cerns stem from lack of knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing as to how these pro­grams op­er­ate, as well as from the ab­sence of trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity of the pro­cesses in­volved.”

I couldn’t agree more— with the need for trans­parency, that is, and ac­count­abil­ity— be­gin­ning with the ques­tion What is the joker’s name that chose Vaughan Lewis for the job of pre­par­ing the Cit­i­zen­ship by In­vest­ment Re­port? It’s a safe bet the cul­prit was “The Cab­i­net.” But that leads to an­other ob­vi­ous ques­tion: Why, when due dili­gence has been ac­knowl­edged as the very heart of the Cit­i­zen­ship by In­vest­ment Pro­gram, did the cur­rent prime min­is­ter al­low his Cab­i­net to as­sign Lewis the all-im­por­tant job, bear­ing in mind his his­tory ac­cord­ing to the prime min­is­ter’s pub­lished book At the Rain­bow’s Edge?

This is what the book, now ac­ces­si­ble on the in­ter­net, says about Lewis: As prime min­is­ter “his man­age­ment of the econ­omy was poor by all rec­og­nized stan­dards. What is per­haps worse is that Saint Lu­cia’s rep­u­ta­tion in the world was be­ing dragged down along with Vaughan Lewis’s rep­u­ta­tion. It is one thing to be, like him, a laugh­ing­stock in your own coun­try. But when you are the prime min­is­ter and you are ridiculed abroad as well, then you can take the whole na­tion down with you.”

In a 1997 tele­vised ad­dress to the na­tion, the text of which ap­pears in At the Rain­bow’s

Edge, the soon to be elected prime min­is­ter said: “The United Work­ers Party has tried to con­vince us that their party has changed. They have pro­moted Vaughan Lewis as the change. Time and ex­pe­ri­ence have shown that the UWP has in­deed changed since the ad­vent of Vaughan Lewis but it is clearly a change for the worse.

“Never be­fore have we seen such vin­dic­tive­ness; such nar­row-mind­ed­ness; such pedi­greed ar­ro­gance;

mau­vais langue and mayp­wis in an elec­tion cam­paign. Many had hoped that the en­try of Vaughan Lewis into the po­lit­i­cal arena would’ve sig­naled a higher level of pub­lic moral­ity and a higher tenor of po­lit­i­cal dis­course and de­bate. There were some who thought he would have at­tempted to clean the rot, cut the pa­tron­age and ex­cise cor­rup­tion. In­stead of ris­ing to his his­toric op­por­tu­nity, Vaughan Lewis sank to the low­est com­mon in­tel­lec­tual de­nom­i­na­tor.”

His own brothers and sis­ters had been bru­tal in their as­sess­ment of Lewis as leader of the United Work­ers Party. He had man­aged “the most dis­or­ga­nized cam­paign in the party’s his­tory.” The sup­port­ers of one can­di­date in the 1997 gen­eral elec­tions, ac­cord­ing to a pub­lished UWP re­port, “lamented that pub­lic per­cep­tion and the im­age of the po­lit­i­cal leader as an al­co­holic may have had some se­ri­ous ef­fect on his demise.”

Iron­i­cally, it was not Lewis but the prime min­is­ter who sued. A court found Lewis had slan­dered him dur­ing a pub­lic rally. In con­sid­er­a­tion of what Lewis had said, the judge de­clared that “the rea­son­able man would know that Dr. [Kenny] An­thony tak­ing a bribe and fraud­u­lently di­vert­ing funds for his per­sonal ben­e­fit are se­ri­ous crim­i­nal of­fences and pun­ish­able with im­pris­on­ment and which would qual­ify as cor­rup­tion and dis­hon­esty.”

Lewis was or­dered to pay the prime min­is­ter $76,000. But now the same prime min­is­ter that had gone out of his way to de­clare the em­peror naked ap­pears hell-bent on con­vinc­ing us he’s Gucci-clad from top to toe. Ob­vi­ously the prime ex­pects Saint Lu­cians to em­brace as re­li­able and true the rec­om­men­da­tions by Lewis in his Cit­i­zen­ship by In­vest­ment Re­port. But then what does it tell us, that the prime min­is­ter chose Lewis for this al­limpor­tant as­sign­ment? More on due dili­gence and Cit­i­zen­ship by In­vest­ment re­port next week!

The pre­ced­ing was first pub­lished in STAR of Novem­ber 7, 2015

For­mer prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony: He was “ve­he­mently against” the CIP be­fore he was for it!

For­mer Kenny An­thony ad­vi­sor Vaughan Lewis: How much of him was washed away in the wa­ters un­der the bridge?

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