ComSec De­nies Kenny State­ment On Grynberg!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

By now it must’ve oc­curred to even the con­ve­niently deaf and dumb that the pal­pa­ble si­lence of the nor­mally gar­ru­lous Labour Party leader on the sub­ject more and more Saint Lu­cians are re­fer­ring to as “this elec­tion’s most im­por­tant topic” speaks vol­umes. As sor­did as may be the sug­ges­tion, let us force our­selves to re­call that the first time any of us learned the Saint Lu­cia seabed had been leased to an Amer­i­can busi­ness­man was when the Cas­tries Cen­tral MP touched lightly on the sub­ject dur­ing his con­tri­bu­tion to the 2009 Budget de­bate. For close to a decade, the mat­ter had re­mained a closely guarded se­cret be­tween the then Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony and Earl Hunt­ley, at the time per­ma­nent sec­re­tary at Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs min­istry. Quite un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally the prime min­is­ter had on the oc­ca­sion kept his thoughts to him­self, even as Richard Fred­er­ick re­peat­edly tor­pe­doed his style of gov­er­nance. It was left to the trusted Hunt­ley, four years af­ter his re­tire­ment from the civil ser­vice, to in­form the pub­lic about the se­cret trans­ac­tion via a piece in The Voice en­ti­tled: “The Story of the Dauphin Oil Project” wherein he re­vealed that on or­ders from the prime min­is­ter him­self he had kept in his pos­ses­sion all re­lated doc­u­ments. More­over, that Hunt­ley had in his pri­vate ca­pac­ity in­vited a Denver, Colorado oil­man named Jack Grynberg to eval­u­ate the sea at Dauphin’s oil po­ten­tial. At some later point he had per­son­ally taken Grynberg to the prime min­is­ter from whom the Amer­i­can ob­tained a li­cense to ex­plore the Saint Lu­cia seabed—an area more than fifty times the size of the is­land’s land mass.

The mat­ter came up a sec­ond time dur­ing the most re­cent Budget de­bate, when a now far bet­ter in­formed Fred­er­ick and two fel­low govern­ment MPs also ques­tioned the se­cret ar­range­ment with the Colorado oil­man Grynberg. But noth­ing they said was enough to elicit a sin­gle word of en­light­en­ment from the for­mer prime min­is­ter. Not un­til sev­eral weeks later, with mount­ing pub­lic in­ter­est in the now ex­posed oil-ex­plo­ration project, did the op­po­si­tion leader break his si­lence. What he said took the form of a tele­vised ad­dress to the na­tion, in the con­spic­u­ous ab­sence of in­quis­i­tive re­porters. For the most part the speech echoed Earl Hunt­ley’s story pub­lished in The Voice. The for­mer prime min­is­ter said the “al­le­ga­tions” by Fred­er­ick & Com­pany were nei­ther new nor true, that they had been con­cocted for the sole pur­pose of de­fam­ing him in an elec­tion year.

He said Hunt­ley had in his pub­lished ar­ti­cle “ex­plained the back­ground” to the Grynberg trans­ac­tion—in­clud­ing the line that “Gre­nada was first to en­gage Grynberg Petroleum . . . the gov­ern­ments of Saint Lu­cia and St. Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines fol­lowed suit.” As will soon be seen, this was not Kenny An­thony’s only con­tra­dic­tion of the story that just sec­onds ear­lier he had en­dorsed as re­li­able back­ground in­for­ma­tion. Re­gard­ing the named two other OECS ter­ri­to­ries, this is what Hunt­ley had writ­ten: “I in­tro­duced him [Grynberg] to Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony and ex­plained to him what had oc­curred. The prime min­is­ter agreed to grant the li­cense and Grynberg sub­se­quently sub­mit­ted a draft agree­ment for sig­na­ture. The then at­tor­ney gen­eral Petrus Comp­ton suggested that the Com­mon­wealth Sec­re­tariat vet the draft. Af­ter the Com­mon­wealth Sec­re­tariat had ap­proved the draft, Prime Min­is­ter An­thony and Jack

Op­po­si­tion leader Kenny An­thony (left) has spo­ken only once on the Grynberg con­tro­versy. Mean­while his lawyer An­thony Astaphan (top left) is busy blog­ging on the is­sue that first came to light dur­ing MP Richard Fred­er­ick’s (top right) 2009 Budget pre­sen­ta­tion. Prime Min­is­ter Stephen­son King (above) ad­dressed the Grynberg af­fair on TV two weeks ago, when he asked the op­po­si­tion leader to help him bring the mat­ter to a sat­is­fac­tory con­clu­sion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.