Kenny dishes on

Peu­geot Cars, Gold Rolexes, The Great Satan, & Gil­bert Chagoury!

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L et it never be said that on the oc­ca­sion of Jan­uary 30, 2003 de par­tee was guilty of false ad­ver­tis­ing. For two days there had been the of­ten-re­peated ra­dio pro­mos: “Come and hear about Cable & Wire­less, Gil­bert Chagoury and the plot to un­seat your govern­ment.” Just about two years ear­lier the Kenny An­thony govern­ment had started its sec­ond con­sec­u­tive term in of­fice.

On the evening in ques­tion, the govern­ment’s more prom­i­nent or­a­tors had in turn taken their places on the steps of the Cas­tries mar­ket. Of course all had care­fully sidestepped the shock­ing rev­e­la­tions of the Crime Com­mis­sion’s lat­est re­port, re­leased mere hours be­fore the night’s rally got un­der­way. Sur­pris­ingly, it was not Mario Michel who landed the job of sell­ing the djab en sac. That par­tic­u­lar as­sign­ment the party leader and prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony re­served for him­self.

Through­out the brouhaha that had pre­ceded Bill Clin­ton’s visit a week or so be­fore the rally, the prime min­is­ter had been next to in­vis­i­ble. The spe­cial press an­nounce­ments, the meet­ings with me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the head­line­mak­ing as­ser­tions, de­tails of the spe­cial din­ner at San­dals Grande, had all come out of the mouth of Mario Michel. Per­haps the prime

min­is­ter had been less than im­pressed by Michel’s pub­lic re­la­tions skills, not to say his ap­pear­ance on Ti­mothy Poleon’s News­maker Live.

“When Bill Clin­ton vis­ited, the whole world turned its at­ten­tion to Saint Lu­cia,” the prime min­is­ter hy­per­bolized. “But when the whole world is watch­ing, what they see could be our best face or our worst.”

He held aloft a hand­ful of notes but of­fered not the small­est hint that the over­seas me­dia had taken any in­ter­est in the spe­cial oc­ca­sion. Dur­ing a stopover in Ja­maica, he said, his of­fi­cial coun­ter­parts had show­ered him with praise.

“Ev­ery­one wanted to know how we were able to ar­range Bill Clin­ton’s visit,” he added, to wild ap­plause from his proud mar­ket-steps au­di­ence. Re­fer­ring to Sir John Comp­ton, he said: “A former prime min­is­ter of this coun­try ac­tu­ally told Bill Clin­ton that if he came to Saint Lu­cia he would de­value him­self. What he was re­ally say­ing is that you, the peo­ple of this coun­try, are worth noth­ing. Who would have thought a former prime min­is­ter would have such con­tempt for his peo­ple that he gov­erned for over 30 years?”

Ad­di­tion­ally: “They say the $37,000 or there­abouts that we spent on en­ter­tain­ment for Bill Clin­ton was a waste of money. Just a few days af­ter his visit Bill Clin­ton made it pos­si­ble for us to pur­chase drugs cost­ing mil­lions of dollars for cit­i­zens suf­fer­ing with HIV/AIDS.”

As for the se­crecy that had sur­rounded Gil­bert Chagoury’s in­volve­ment, Kenny An­thony let it be known that it was a UWP ad­min­is­tra­tion that had ap­pointed Chagoury as this coun­try’s UN­ESCO am­bas­sador. “But just be­cause he played a role in bring­ing Clin­ton here the visit was com­pro­mised? Some­thing was not right about it?”

When the Labour Party first came into of­fice in 1997, he ex­plained, all am­bas­sado­rial ap­point­ments were re­viewed. “For the sake of con­ti­nu­ity the govern­ment de­cided to keep ex­ist­ing ap­point­ments un­til such time as we thought oth­er­wise. Chagoury was one of the ap­point­ments we re­tained.”

Why? “Petrus Comp­ton will tell you that one day he was called to a meet­ing at a lo­cal ho­tel by Comp­ton and his wife Jan­ice. They told him he should no longer ac­cept that ap­point­ment in Paris be­cause they had found some­one to rep­re­sent Saint Lu­cia. That per­son was Gil­bert Chagoury.”

It was not quite clear whether Kenny An­thony meant to say his pre­de­ces­sor had ear­lier cho­sen Petrus Comp­ton to serve as the na­tion’s UN­ESCO am­bas­sador in Paris. But if in­deed he had been ap­pointed in John Comp­ton’s time, why then had Petrus never left Saint Lu­cia and was still here when Kenny An­thony took of­fice nearly two years af­ter the ap­point­ment?

An­thony went on: “They claimed they were ad­vised to ap­point Chagoury at the urg­ing of the Catholic Church, which had close ties with the prime min­is­ter. Petrus Comp­ton said he had no ob­jec­tion to be­ing re­placed since he wasn’t all that keen on the ap­point­ment, any­way.”

More clouds of con­fu­sion: If Petrus Comp­ton did not want the job, why had he ac­cepted it in the first place? Who were “they” that had been di­rected by the Catholic Church? Mr. and Mrs. John Comp­ton? Who ex­actly had done the urg­ing? The Pope?

We come now to the part that most mat­tered. “Chagoury is a rich man,” said Kenny An­thony sound­ing like the man’s ac­coun­tant. “He is an ex­tremely rich man. So rich, that when John Comp­ton vis­ited him in Paris and was driven around in a top of the line Peu­geot 605, he liked it so much that he com­pli­mented Chagoury on its qual­ity.”

By Kenny An­thony’s telling on the steps of the Cas­tries mar­ket, Chagoury’s re­sponse was: “You like it? Would you like one?” Still by An­thony’s ac­count, with no back-up ev­i­dence, “Chagoury later do­nated a Peu­geot to Saint Lu­cia. When we got into of­fice in 1997 it was sug­gested to me that the car was a per­sonal gift to John Comp­ton. I said, no way. I got in touch with Chagoury’s staff and found out that the car was do­nated to the govern­ment and peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia. I then made it clear the car would stay at the prime min­is­ter’s res­i­dence.” Ap­plause! Ap­plause! Ap­plause! “When you see a Peu­geot pass­ing with a govern­ment crest on it,” Kenny An­thony went, “that’s the car. Your car.”

Sev­eral ques­tions arise from the im­me­di­ately above. Those who knew Comp­ton well doubt­less will be sur­prised to read Kenny An­thony’s quoted rev­e­la­tions from the steps of the Cas­tries mar­ket on the evening of Thurs­day, 30 Jan­uary 2003. There had never been any­thing os­ten­ta­tious about John Comp­ton. He was never known to be flashy. Through­out his life he had driven him­self around in rusty junk heaps; old iron. In all events, it was not John Comp­ton that Kenny An­thony re­placed in 1997. Comp­ton had re­signed as prime min­is­ter in 1996. The un­de­ni­able fact is that whether the cited Peu­geot was a gift to Comp­ton or to the na­tion, it ar­rived in Saint Lu­cia too late

to be of much use to the prime min­is­ter.

Forty-eight hours af­ter the Peu­geot landed here Comp­ton va­cated his of­fice, to be re­placed by Vaughan Lewis on All Fools. As best as I’ve been able to establish, the Peu­geot was soon af­ter­ward as­signed to the for­eign af­fairs min­istry.

As if fur­ther to prove “Chagoury is an ex­tremely rich man,” on the re­mem­bered evening on Jeremie Street Kenny An­thony held up cor­re­spon­dence he claimed Ge­orge Od­lum had ad­dressed to Gil­bert Chagoury, and in which Od­lum begged the am­bas­sador for close to a mil­lion dollars “for the devel­op­ment of the La Clery play­ing field.”

Im­per­son­at­ing the mar­ket­steps ver­nac­u­lar, this was how Kenny An­thony turned Ge­orge Od­lum’s name into ashes: “You are writ­ing to Chagoury to go and iden­tify funds for you and that is not what you are re­ally af­ter. What you are re­ally af­ter is the man’s money!” By An­thony’s re­call, “the great Satan” did not re­ceive a fa­vor­able re­sponse from the ex­tremely rich man. Chagoury ad­vised Od­lum that he took his in­struc­tions only from Mario Michel, who in turn took his in­struc­tions from the prime min­is­ter.

“Od­lum went berserk,” An­thony re­called, “and all hell broke loose. From then on he fin­gered Chagoury. He ar­ranged for a let­ter to be writ­ten by some­one in the Nige­rian em­bassy in Paris, sug­gest­ing that Chagoury was in­volved in money laun­der­ing and steal­ing the Nige­rian govern­ment’s money.”

Ar­ranged for a let­ter to be writ­ten by some­one! The ver­i­fi­able truth is that there were at the time, as now, scores of ac­ces­si­ble sto­ries on the In­ter­net that linked Chagoury with the no­to­ri­ous Abacha regime. A tid­bit on Abacha, cour­tesy En­cy­clo­pe­dia Bri­tan­nica: “[Nige­rian] elec­tions were held in 1993 and won by Mos­hood Abi­ola. How­ever, he an­nulled the elec­tions and set up a civil­ian in­terim govern­ment, which Abacha eas­ily over­threw. He banned po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity of any kind, fired a large por­tion of the mil­i­tary, con­trolled the press, and assembled a per­sonal se­cu­rity force of some 3000. He bru­tally sup­pressed dis­sent at home.”

More on AbachaChagoury, this time ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia: “Chagoury was a close as­so­ciate of Nige­rian dic­ta­tor Gen­eral Sani Abacha who helped his busi­ness in­ter­ests in the coun­try. Af­ter Abacha died in 1998, Chagoury re­turned an es­ti­mated US$3 mil­lion to the Nige­rian govern­ment to se­cure his in­dem­nity from pos­si­ble crim­i­nal charges.”

Od­lum had dis­cov­ered in early 1997 the AbachaChagoury con­nec­tions and tried in vain to dis­cour­age his Cabinet col­leagues from any as­so­ci­a­tion with Chagoury. It is a mat­ter of record that Kenny An­thony’s first over­seas trip upon be­com­ing prime min­is­ter was as a guest of the “ex­tremely rich man.”

From the steps of the Cas­tries mar­ket on the re­vis­ited evening in Fe­bru­ary 2003, the SLP leader ad­dressed his flock as fol­lows: “Would Bill Clin­ton main­tain a re­la­tion­ship with a man who is said to be a money laun­derer and cor­rupt? Would Clin­ton risk it? Would Clin­ton risk the rep­u­ta­tion of his wife?”

Most of these ques­tions have of­fi­cially been an­swered by United States au­thor­i­ties. As for that re­lat­ing to Clin­ton’s wife, it was an­swered long be­fore the im­peached Bill Clin­ton’s visit to Saint Lu­cia— as it turned out, all ex­penses paid by his con­tro­ver­sially close friend Gil­bert Chagoury!

Co­in­ci­den­tally, per­haps, Kenny An­thony had asked sim­i­lar ques­tions in de­fense of his own re­la­tion­ship with a cer­tain Jack Gryn­berg rep­u­ta­tion: “Why would Gre­nada and St. Vin­cent en­gage him if he was a con artist?” We know now the an­swer, if we didn’t know it when the ques­tion was asked!

But speaking of gifts: Shortly af­ter his party lost the 2005 gen­eral elec­tions, Kenny An­thony ac­cepted a brand new Pajero jeep from well­heeled Vieux Fort busi­ness peo­ple, one of whom told the

STAR it was the group’s way of show­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the then op­po­si­tion leader for all he had done for them, both as their con­stituency rep­re­sen­ta­tive and as leader of govern­ment. Lo­cal laws make such touch­ing demon­stra­tions of ap­pre­ci­a­tion il­le­gal: of­fi­cials may not ac­cept re­wards for do­ing or not do­ing what tax­pay­ers pay them to do. In­ci­den­tally, Kenny An­thony had also ac­cused Ge­orge Od­lum of keep­ing for him­self a gold Rolex watch in­tended as a gift from a for­eign govern­ment to the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia!

Shortly be­fore the 2016 gen­eral elec­tions, Kenny An­thony be­stowed on Gil­bert Chagoury our na­tion’s high­est honor—The Saint Lu­cia Cross. On the oc­ca­sion he said: “Serv­ing Saint Lu­cia has been a great priv­i­lege, con­sid­er­ing the qual­ity of its lead­ers . . .”

Lead­ers all. Left to right: Sir John Comp­ton (de­ceased), Kenny An­thony, Vaughan Lewis and Gil­bert Chagoury, holder of the na­tion’s most pres­ti­gious award: The Saint Lu­cia Cross!

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