What will PM do about Gryn­berg and IMPACS?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rick Wayne

Earl Hunt­ley’s most re­cent let­ter to the Voice, like his ear­lier pub­li­ca­tion in 2009, ex­poses the rea­son for for­mer prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony’s con­tin­u­ing si­lence on the mat­ter of Jack Gryn­berg. He can­not risk trip­ping over Hunt­ley’s rec­ol­lec­tions more times than al­ready he has. Hunt­ley, on the other hand, is demon­stra­bly a lot more reck­less. As has been un­der­scored in ear­lier ar­ti­cles in this se­ries, a num­ber of claims made in Hunt­ley’s now fa­mous story about oil de­posits in the sea at Dauphin are con­tra­dic­tory, vague, silly (bor­der­ing on voodoo), un­cor­rob­o­rated or just plain self-serv­ing pre­var­i­ca­tion.

And now, as if lay­ing down more de­coys, he seeks to make light of Jack Gryn­berg’s ref­er­ences to him as “my trusted as­so­ci­ate,” at a time when by his own word Hunt­ley’s role was as the vol­un­teer li­ai­son be­tween the govern­ment and Gryn­berg’s com­pany RSM. He also sug­gests, rem­i­nis­cent of Wal­ter Fran­cois’ doc­tor­ate, that for no spe­cial rea­son Gryn­berg of­ten re­ferred to him as his “rep­re­sen­ta­tive” and “friend”—even in his of­fi­cial cor­re­spon­dence with lo­cal govern­ment min­istries. Hunt­ley even tries to wrig­gle out of the fact that for al­most five years af­ter he quit the pub­lic ser­vice he had se­cretly re­tained im­por­tant doc­u­ments re­lat­ing to the Gryn­berg ar­range­ment that rightly be­longed in the govern­ment’s files. He never took them to New York, he now as­serts; he left them “at home,” wher­ever that might be.

Then there is this: “Based on what he had seen in Saint Lu­cia, Gryn­berg was also in­ter­ested in sign­ing an ex­plo­ration agree­ment with St. Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines be­cause he be­lieved that if there was oil in Saint Lu­cian wa­ters, then oil would also be present in St. Vin­cent, Gre­nada and Do­minica. The min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for en­ergy in St. Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines at the time was John Horn and in dis­cus­sions with him he said to me that Saint Lu­cia and St. Vin­cent had noth­ing to lose agree­ing to grant li­censes for ex­plo­ration and so St. Vin­cent also con­cluded an agree­ment with Gryn­berg’s RSM. Gre­nada was to do the same af­ter­ward.”

The cal­cu­lated im­pres­sion given here is that we were first to sign on the dot­ted line, when in fact we were the last. The Gre­nada agree­ment was con­cluded in 1996, St. Vin­cent’s in 1999 and Saint Lu­cia’s in 2000—four years af­ter Gre­nada. Hunt­ley’s con­vo­luted se­quence of events notwith­stand­ing, how could Gryn­berg’s in­ter­est in St. Vin­cent have been based on what he had not yet seen in Saint Lu­cia (has not seen even now!) and not on what was ev­i­dent to him in Gre­nada?

It’s al­most as if Hunt­ley is de­ter­mined to say as little as pos­si­ble about the Gre­nada disas­ter, which would be un­der­stand­able, bear­ing in mind how it had ex­posed Gryn­berg’s true col­ors. In­deed, had Hunt­ley and Kenny An­thony not been so bent on se­crecy, they might’ve dis­cov­ered that just two weeks af­ter the Gre­nada govern­ment en­gaged Gryn­berg the Colorado oil­man in­voked force ma­jeure and aban­doned all his con­trac­tual obli­ga­tions. As I say, in much the same way that Earl Hunt­ley had dis­cov­ered Gryn­berg is “a very suc­cess­ful oil en­tre­pre­neur with sub­stan­tial petroleum as­sets in the USA and other parts of the world” (was he privy to Gryn­berg’s bank ac­count or did the oil­man tell him that?), had the for­mer prime min­is­ter con­ducted even the small­est in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Gryn­berg’s deal­ings with the Gre­nada govern­ment he might have learned enough to keep him from com­mit­ting Saint Lu­cia to the contract he signed on 28 March 2000, in di­rect conflict with the re­quire­ments of our Min­er­als (Vest­ing) Act. Then again, Kenny An­thony was never fa­mous for due dili­gence, as well the Rochamel clique know!

Of course, it is pos­si­ble both Kenny An­thony and Earl Hunt­ley knew and ig­nored the fact that soon af­ter sign­ing on with the Gre­nada govern­ment Gryn­berg had landed them in a heap of trou­ble (some of it in­volv­ing sis­ter ter­ri­to­ries). In all events, what pre­cisely did Gryn­berg see with his naked eye in Saint Lu­cia that had alerted him to the oil po­ten­tial of the named sis­ter is­lands? The black sand at Dauphin? He had not yet spent the US$60 mil­lion that in last week­end’s Voice Hunt­ley claimed Gryn­berg in­vested in seis­mic ex­plo­rations of Saint Lu­cia’s wa­ters. Ac­tu­ally, there is ab­so­lutely no ev­i­dence of such ex­plo­ration, let alone the cost. I am reli­ably in­formed that the re­lated doc­u­ments to which Hunt­ley re­ferred were bor­rowed from the Bar­ba­dos au­thor­i­ties.

Point­less go­ing over the rest of Hunt­ley’s piece in last Satur­day’s Voice, save to re­mind read­ers of how easy it is to pull a tiger’s teeth in the beast’s ab­sence. Prime Min­is­ter Stephen­son King has al­ready made it quite clear he and his min­is­ters were un­able to find any Gryn­berg-re­lated doc­u­ments in the govern­ment’s files—and John Compton is in no po­si­tion to val­i­date the outré claims of Earl Hunt­ley. Hardly sur­pris­ing, he ne­glected to men­tion among his Voice rev­e­la­tions how he came by de­tails of se­cret Cabi­net dis­cus­sions cen­tered on Gryn­berg but there is the sub­tle sug­ges­tion his uniden­ti­fied source may have been Aus­bert d’Au­vergne, about whose char­ac­ter the Labour Party has al­ready said more than enough—cer­tainly enough to cause the gen­tle­man to is­sue threats of li­bel and slan­der at one point.

I, for one, am hav­ing a dif­fi­cult time be­liev­ing any­thing Earl Hunt­ley writes or ut­ters. And not with­out good cause. Re­mem­ber the multi-mil­lion­dol­lar He­len­ites Build­ing trans­ac­tion? At its cen­ter was New York real es­tate owned by the govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia. For rea­sons of his own, Earl Hunt­ley (then UN am­bas­sador) had trans­ferred own­er­ship of the prop­erty to a fel­low Saint Lu­cian based in New York, for the os­ten­si­ble pur­pose of ac­quir­ing ur­gently needed funds from a New York loan shark—with­out one word to the govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia, then headed by Kenny An­thony.

The cu­ri­ous trans­ac­tion in­volved Hunt­ley’s putting to­gether fake doc­u­men­ta­tion that in­tro­duced his friend to a loan shark as the ac­tual owner of the prop­erty. Hav­ing re­ceived the money he claimed was needed to ef­fect ur­gent re­pairs to the prop­erty, Hunt­ley pro­ceeded to put a large por­tion of it to other use, at least one of them car­ni­val­re­lated. He then de­posited what was left in the Saint Lu­cia Mis­sion’s ac­count in New York, with­out any ex­pla­na­tion to its of­fi­cials. Mean­while, the He­len­ites prop­erty con­tin­ued to de­te­ri­o­rate.

In the midst of a pub­lic out­cry in Saint Lu­cia gen­er­ated by leaked in­for­ma­tion from sources in New York, Kenny An­thony ini­ti­ated with much fan­fare a quite un­nec­es­sary in­quiry by the for­mer ju­rist Al­bert Matthew. The prime min­is­ter, Hunt­ley’s boss, might’ve eas­ily saved tax­pay­ers thou­sands of dol­lars by sim­ply re­call­ing his UN am­bas­sador and de­mand­ing of him some straight an­swers to di­rect ques­tions. In­stead, the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice fur­nished the ex-judge with the list of names to be in­ter­ro­gated.

By Matthew’s ac­count he found clear ev­i­dence of “im­pro­pri­ety” and “mis­fea­sance,” which he de­fined in turn as “im­proper con­duct” and “the wrong­ful ex­er­cise of author­ity.” In reg­u­lar par­lance, egre­gious abuse of of­fice!

Reacting to Hunt­ley’s stub­born in­sis­tence that as am­bas­sador he had plenipo­ten­tiary pow­ers and acted ac­cord­ingly, this is what Matthew wrote in his re­port: “I am of the view that the am­bas­sador was mis­guided. The am­bas­sador is an agent of his govern­ment and as such he must act in ac­cor­dance with in­struc­tions on all mat­ters per­tain­ing to the dis­posal of the prop­erty of govern­ment.”

More­over: “There can be no plau­si­ble rea­son why the am­bas­sador should cause a loan to be made with­out the author­ity of the govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia . . . If an am­bas­sador has the pow­ers as claimed, then he would have the author­ity to sell Saint Lu­cia with­out reporting to any­one!”

Or, come to that, 83 mil­lion acres of the Saint Lu­cia seabed!

Fi­nally, Matthew placed “full blame for the trans­fer of ti­tle to the New York cen­ter and the fa­cil­i­ta­tion of the mort­gage squarely on the shoul­ders of the am­bas­sador.” The for­mer judge held that Hunt­ley “acted with­out author­ity in sev­eral as­pects.” As for his view that when the project was fur­ther de­vel­oped he would in­form the au­thor­i­ties in Saint Lu­cia, Matthew wrote: “The am­bas­sador got it wrong. It was the other way around.”

The New York prop­erty was even­tu­ally re­stored to govern­ment own­er­ship but only af­ter lengthy le­gal is­sues had been set­tled at great cost to the Saint Lu­cian tax­payer. Of course, even now Hunt­ley con­tin­ues to say he did noth­ing wrong when he was Saint

Lu­cia’s am­bas­sador, much like some­one else I need not iden­tify, de­spite the con­trary find­ing of a com­mis­sion of in­quiry!

Matthew’s re­port was still a ma­jor topic when the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party handed Hunt­ley an op­por­tu­nity to get him­self elected to of­fice de­spite the He­len­ites episode. Alas, the peo­ple of Gros Islet said enough was enough and re­fused to co­op­er­ate. So, should Earl Hunt­ley now be be­lieved when he makes un­sub­stan­ti­ated claims about the de­ceased Compton and about monies wired by Gryn­berg to his per­sonal ac­count? It seems to me that if in fact the money was to pay bills re­lated to oil ex­plo­ration in Saint Lu­cia it should’ve been wired to an ap­pro­pri­ate govern­ment agency. But then there was al­ways the mat­ter of se­crecy to be main­tained.

As Hunt­ley put it in his 26 Fe­bru­ary 2004 let­ter to Gryn­berg: To save time “I would sug­gest that in or­der to ef­fect pay­ment and main­tain the con­fi­den­tial­ity of the op­er­a­tion it would be best if you wired the amount to me and I would pay the boat own­ers.” Pre­sum­ably the money Gryn­berg wired to Hunt­ley in May 2004 was for some­thing else, doubt­less also confidential!

Which re­minds me: Hunt­ley pooh-poohs Gryn­berg’s ref­er­ences to him as “my trusted as­so­ci­ate,” “my rep­re­sen­ta­tive” and “my friend” by hint­ing it was all sweet talk and al­to­gether in­no­cent. Bear in mind, dear reader, this was in 2007, when Hunt­ley was no longer in the ser­vice of the govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia. And yet, by his own ac­count, he con­tin­ued in his un­paid “li­ai­son role” be­tween Gryn­berg and the King govern­ment, even as this govern­ment was seek­ing ways to ex­tri­cate it­self from Gryn­berg’s grasp.

Re­gard­less of his con­ve­nient def­i­ni­tions, it should also be re­mem­bered that Hunt­ley was the ini­tia­tor of the whole oil she­bang. He was also re­spon­si­ble for in­tro­duc­ing Gryn­berg into the pic­ture, there­fore un­likely to say any­thing neg­a­tive about him with­out spit­ting in his own face. Can­didly, the whole mat­ter of whether Stephen­son King in­ad­ver­tently en­dorsed, then with­drew from, a Gryn­ber­gre­lated ar­range­ment is rel­a­tively in­signif­i­cant, much more than can le­git­i­mately be said about Kenny An­thony’s sig­na­ture on more than one Gryn­berg doc­u­ment. What mat­ters in the last anal­y­sis is that cor­re­spon­dence be­tween the govern­ment and Gryn­berg makes it quite clear King & Com­pany never in­tended con­tin­u­ing the re­la­tion­ship with Jack Gryn­berg, started back in 2000 by Kenny An­thony and Earl Hunt­ley.

Eleven years later[ 2011] noth­ing what­so­ever has oc­curred that might’ve given King rea­son to re­new it. Hunt­ley him­self had fi­nally come round to ad­vis­ing the govern­ment to break the contract if Gryn­berg did not be­gin his ex­plo­rations in 2008. (Ob­vi­ously he had for­got­ten about the force ma­jeure clause that Gryn­berg had in­voked just six months af­ter sign­ing with Kenny An­thony and which, by all Gryn­berg’s lawyers have stated, keeps their contract in sus­pended an­i­ma­tion, ready to come alive again the minute there are no longer any ques­tions about our marine bor­ders. Then again, per­haps Hunt­ley did not for­get!) I wish Hunt­ley had not brought his doubt­less out­stand­ing par­ents into this oily Gryn­berg mess. I am more than will­ing to take his word that they taught him all they knew about how to be an hon­est and up­right cit­i­zen. From all Hunt­ley says about his mom and dad I can safely as­sume they would not have en­dorsed some of his de­ci­sions as a pub­lic ser­vant. As for Hunt­ley’s own sense of right and wrong, suf­fice it to say that on this sub­ject the He­len­ites con­tro­versy has al­ready spo­ken vol­umes!

Keep­ing in mind the cost to tax­pay­ers in re­la­tion to Jack Gryn­berg’s on­go­ing breach of contract suit against the govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia, shouldn’t Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet have ques­tions for both his pre­de­ces­sor and Earl Hunt­ley (pic­tured)?

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