Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Nelson has confirmed that he ordered the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to investigate allegations that controversial Utah businessman, Robert Martin Oveson has scammed a multimillionaire of US$1 million to facilitate the Levera project in the north of the island.
Speaking to THE NEW TODAY last Friday, Nelson admitted that he received a file from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) about the allegation involving Oveson who is known to be the Managing Director of NTL Trust, a Nevis-based company that is an approved agent for Grenada’s passport-selling scheme known as Citizenship By Investment (CBI).
This newspaper understands that one Roger Ver, the holder of a St. Kitts Citizenship passport told the CID on February 2, 2017 that he wired the money, the equivalent of EC$2.7 million to Oveson for the Levera project that is allegedly now being done by his brother, Randall Oveson.
During the launch of the Levera project in November 2016, Oveson who was introduced as the developer told the ceremony that US$7 million was already secured from investors as start-up funds.
According to a document obtained by THE NEW TODAY, Ver, an ex-convict in the United States, had approached Oveson and his NTL Company to acquire a Grenadian passport through the CBI that is being promoted by the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government.
Ver reportedly handed over US$350, 000.00 to Oveson towards the development of the Mount Cinnamon resort, a hotel project belonging to British businessman, Peter deSavary that was earmarked to benefit from funds raised through the CBI programme.
The application was turned down and Oveson kept this fact from Ver but instead asked him to make a bigger contribution of US$1 million for the Levera project that would guarantee him a Grenadian passport.
The document said in part: “As you are aware NTL is a trusted International Marketing Agent for the Grenada Government’s CBI program. Roger’s application was turned down around November of 2015, a fact Roger Martin kept from Mr. Ver.
Instead, he tricked him into switching his investment from the Mount Cinnamon project to the Levera project. The switch meant instead of investing USD$350,000 Mr. Ver was persuaded to part with USD$1,000,000 with a suggestion that this would speed up his application.
“This fast tracking never occurred as his application had already been denied since November of 2015. All along Robert Martin kept giving Mr. Ver assurances that his application was with Cabinet and nearing approval. It was only after Mr. Ver personally visited Grenada in October of 2016 did he learn that his application had indeed been rejected since the previous year”, it added.
THE NEW TODAY understands that Ver asked back for his money which should have been placed on an Escrow Account held by a local law firm but was told that he can only get it back in installments over a period of time.
The legal source spoke of Ver informing the Mitchell-led government of the alleged act of fraud by Oveson through a letter that was hand delivered to Trinidad-born attorney-at-law, Kaisha Ince, who is attached to the Office of the Prime Minister.
The envoy flew into Grenada from St. Kitts to engage Ince who allegedly told him that Oveson is currently being investigated but nothing can be done about him unless the probe is concluded.
The hand delivered letter was dated November 1, 2016 but a week later Prime Minister Mitchell and a host of government officials including Education Minister, Anthony Boatswain and Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Pamela Moses were seen alongside Oveson at the ground-breaking ceremony at Levera for the much-talked about project.
“It is almost impossible for me to comprehend how the Prime Minister and those other officials weren’t aware that an official letter of complaint had already been lodged with the apparent Head of the CBI program…”, he said.
“…Nothing has been done by the Government to sanction, remove or otherwise discipline Robert Martin or NTL”, he added.
The aide to Ver was sarcastic in making reference to the decision of DPP Nelson to ask the FIU, headed by Superintendent Tafawa Pierre to take charge of the criminal investigation of Oveson.
He said: “We have been advised that the matter was referred to the DPP who subsequently referred the matter to Mr. Pierre at the FIU. The same Mr. Pierre who initially performed the due diligence on Robert Martin (Oveson)?
In defending his action, DPP Nelson said that the FIU is better equipped with a battery of officers who are more qualified than CID to engage in the kind of investigation that is required in the matter.
The DPP also said he was aware of a lawsuit filed by Ciboney Chambers on behalf of Ver who is pursuing Oveson and was waiting on local attorney Ruggles Ferguson who is involved in the matter to supply him with copies of the court documents.
According to the aide, the wealthy Ver who also operates in Japan has the financial resources to fight whatever “battle” is needed to recover his US$1 million from Oveson and the Levera project plus an additional US$1 million that he is seeking in damages.
The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has consistently called for the removal of Supt. Pierre as head of the FIU on the grounds that under the laws of the country he falls into the category of being “a politically exposed person”.
The FIU head is the husband of CBI Minister, Emmalin Pierre who is in charge of the passport-selling scheme.
Ver is also said to be upset over the fact that Robert Martin did not divulge to him that he was actually Robert Martin Oveson, the person behind the Levera project.
In recent weeks, this newspaper has been running a series of articles on Oveson who handed out business cards on the island identifying him only as Robert Martin.
One of the articles relates to court documents obtained from Utah, which confirmed that Robert Martin Oveson was found guilty of four criminal charges in 2013 related to assault, burglary and domestic violence in the presence of a child.
In addition, a number of U.S and Canadian nationals have accused Oveson of fraud in connection with over one million U.S dollars given to him for housing units and condos that were never built.
Checks made by THE NEW TODAY into the background of Ver revealed that he is a former US citizen, ex-convict, millionaire investor and founder of something called “Passports for Bitcoin.com”.
Ver was sentenced to ten months in federal prison in the United States after selling about 14 pounds of explosive without a licence on the EBay auction site.
He moved to Tokyo after finishing probation in 2006 and later obtained his St Kitts-Nevis passport on February 13, 2014, and abandoned his US citizenship by the end of the month.
Ver is known as “Bitcoin Jesus” in the world of cyber-currencies.
Though he can’t promise you heaven, he is offering a haven: a condo in the Caribbean that comes with a new passport and almost zero taxes.
The ever-expanding universe of what you can buy with bitcoins includes a hotel stay in Rome, a kimono in Tokyo and cable TV in the United States.
Ver, a pioneer investor in bitcoin start-ups, now says he can add citizenship to the list.
His Web site – in English, Russian and Chinese – offers a way to buy a piece of that paradise with bitcoins. He says it will help people who are hemmed in by government restrictions on cash transactions.
A trim 35-year-old with a crew cut, Ver grew rich investing in bitcoin early and is a regular speaker at industry conferences.
He’s provided seed funds for a dozen prominent start-ups, including Kraken, an exchange where people buy and sell the digital currency, and Blockchain, an online wallet used to store it.
The Levera project is considered as key to the Mitchell-led government in order to provide jobs in the northern section of the island and to retain the two seats in the area – St. Patrick East and St. Patrick West.
In its clean sweep at the 2013 poll, Dr. Mitchell and his NNP campaigned on an influx of foreign investors to Grenada, and the creation of thousands of jobs within weeks of taking office.
However, the government was forced to introduce several tax hikes and new revenue earning measures as part of a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) to arrest a severe fiscal situation facing the country due to unsustainable high debt payments.