by THE PHILOSOPHER
Is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Business, Nickolas Steele in breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act?
There is a school of thought in the country that gross conflict exists in relation to the participation by Minister Steele in the approval process of Peter de Savary as a Marketing agent for the Grenada Economic Investment Programme (GEIP).
Members of civil society organisation have maintained a watching brief over the development which reveals that even before the passage of the Citizen by Investment Programme (CIP) in Parliament, that Veritas Legal (the Law firm) headed by the wife of the Foreign Minister was being advertised as an Agent for the GEIP.
A foreign diplomat has referred me to a copy of the advertising material titled “Grenada Citizenship by Investment” which purports to advertise “Mount Cinnamon Private and Beach Club”, and reference to Veritas Legal, is made at Page 28, under the Section “What criteria will be used to issue a Passport”?.
Most persons in Grenada are fully aware that Veritas Legal has as its principal attorney Michelle Steele, who is the wife of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nickolas Steele.
The Integrity in Public Life Act specifically states at the Sixth Schedule, Part II page, 58 that, “A person in public life private interest includes any advantage to himself or herself, to his or her family, close relatives, friends and persons or organisations with whom he or she has had business for potential relations. It also includes any liability whether financial or work relating thereto”.
The Philosopher submits that the engagement of Mrs. Michelle Steele as Attorney as advertised on the Website for ‘Mount Cinnamon Private and Beach Club’ even prior to the acceptance of the Citizenship by Investment Act into law, contravenes the Integrity in Public Life Act and in particular the Sixth Schedule, Section 40, titled Code of Conduct in the following manner:
(1). A person in public life shall not allow his or her private interest to conflict with his or her public position. It shall be the responsibility of the person in public life to avoid such conflicts of interest, whether real, potential or apparent.
The Philosopher submits that the benefits to be gained from the participation of the Law Firm, Veritas Legal and Mrs. Michelle Steele, wife of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Business are private interest, and create grounds for real, potential and apparent conflict.
This also has to be viewed in the context of the fact that the Veritas/deSavary connection and advertising pre-empted the passage of the Citizenship by Investment Act, and the selection of Marketing Agents.
Was anyone surprised that the Peter de Savery Group was subsequently named as one of the two Marketing Agents?
(2). A person in public life shall not take advantage of his or her position for his or her private interest.
The participation of Minister Nicholas Steele in the Citizenship by Investment Act, and in meetings of the Cabinet and Sub-Committees of the Cabinet on these matters, while his wife, Attorney-at-law Michelle Steele was already being advertised as an agent with Mt. Cinnamon, and the subsequent selection of Peter de Savary as a Marketing Agent under the programme clearly supports the perspective of many persons that he took advantage of his position in the Cabinet and in the House to advance (take advantage of) his private (family) interest.
Did Minister Nicholas Steele recluse himself from the Debates in Parliament and Cabinet on the very said issue?
(3). A person in public life shall always conduct himself or herself in such a way that the public’s confidence and trust in the integrity, impartiality and effectiveness of the public service are preserved and enhanced.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Business, by his perceived association with the Peter de Savary Group while the GEIP was being determined, and by his allowing his wife’s (private interest) to enter into arrangements on matters which were under confidential discussion by the Cabinet of Grenada, has brought himself into considerable conflict with the principles of impartiality, breached the public trust, and has shown himself (not for the first time) to be questioned as regards his integrity.
In so doing the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Business, has neither preserved nor enhanced the effectiveness of the Government.
The Philosopher is clear that the contracting of the Law Firm Veritas Legal as an agent of Peter de Savary and Mount Cinnamon, under the Citizenship by Investment programme, walks, looks, and quacks like a duck…… and some might rightly or wrongly conclude that therefore it is.
A case ought to be made out for the Minster of Foreign Affairs and International Business, Nicholas Steele to be brought before the Integrity in Public Life Commission.
To make matters worse, with impunity Minister Nicholas Steele’s wife, Michelle Steele, has been made a Local Agent, setting her up to make millions of dollars as an agent for the sale of passports through the Peter de Savary Mt. Cinnamon connection among others.
There is no question that Minister Nicholas Steele’s wife, who is also on the Board of the GIDC, positioning her to leverage deals for her company and now a Local Agent placing her to amass wealth through the relationship which she has with her husband the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Business, find themselves in an irreconcilable, irretraceable position of conflict.
The Philosopher calls for the immediate removal of Mrs. Michelle Steele from all of these Offices, or the immediate removal of her compromised husband, the Mi nister of Foreign Affairs and International Business from the Cabinet.
The Integrity in Public Life Commission should be approached to make a pronouncement on the matter of his alleged conflict of interest position.
Unless and until immediate remedial action is taken by the Keith Mitchell administration, his administration will continue to languish on the precipice of perceived corruption, and allegations of corruption.
Is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Business and his family presently enjoying a “Steele of a Deal”, at the expense of integrity and Grenadian poor people?
Mr. Steele, the people particularly in the town of St. George are complaining increasingly that you have hardly done anything for them since the election and that you might have “hoodwinked” them with the “delivery promise” to give you the vote on February 19, 2013.