A decision handed down by one of our three high court judges should attract the attention of government.
It relates to a multi-million dollar judgement against Peter deSavary who has been given ambassadorial status by Grenada.
An insight into the EC$2.7 million judgement of Justice Madam Margaret Mohammed is contained in the front-page issue of this week’s edition of THE NEW TODAY.
The judge was not too kind in her remarks about Mr. de Savary and one of the major concerns of this newspaper is whether this investor is best suited to hold diplomatic status on behalf of the Government and People of Grenada.
Apart from labelling the investor as one who was “at best tenuous” and also “inconsistent” in his evidence, the Lady Judge raised a serious red flag concerning the project proposal that he had submitted to the then Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government in the 2003-2008 period to get concessions for the planned hotel for the Grand Anse beach.
These are the words of the learned high court judge, not THE NEW TODAY: “…Mr. De Savary’s evidence under cross-examination …was at best tenous (tenuous) and inconsistent. He first stated that in the application for planning approval he may or may not have been intending to develop a hotel. Then he said he could not explain what “Hotel” is being referred to in the application for approval for “the development of Hotel”. Yet he later admitted that in part he was applying to the authorities for permission to put a hotel on the beach which he called “Hotel” as depicted on the Master Plan but he then stated that the application for planning approval for “Hotel and living accommodation” was an error”
Justice Mohammed went on further to state: “If I am to accept Mr. DeSavary’s explanation that it was an error, then I have to accept that the Defendant misled the relevant authorities in its application for planning approval but there was no evidence presented by the Defendant to indicate that it attempted to correct this error with the planning authorities such as an amended application. Indeed there was no evidence to demonstrate that it was an error since it was based on this very same approval that the Defendant proceeded with the refurbishment of the buildings and additional construction at Mt. Cinnamon.
The judge was using strong words indeed…. Misleading the State to get certain concessions?. Was some kind of fraud committed?
The other statement in the judgement that should be of interest to the powers-that-be and should define any possible future relationship between the State and Mr. deSavary is this:
Here is what Justice Mohammed said: “I do not accept the weak explanation proffered by Mr De Savary that the application for “Hotel and living accommodation” was an error. Mr De Savary appeared to me to be a shrewd businessman with extensive experience in the area of tourism/hotel/ real estate development for the last 36 years. In my view, any shrewd businessman who was about to undertake such an extensive project would have taken all the appropriate steps to ensure that the proper application was made in terms of the type of accommodation which the Defendant intended to provide at Mt. Cinnamon”.
Where is the Physical Planning Department and Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) in all of this? These are two critical components of the government with responsibility to help look into all projects submitted for concessions.
How come it took the judge to point out the “error” as Mr. deSavary called it in what he had submitted to government and got concessions for in selling the idea that he was building a hotel on Grand Anse beach – something that was never done.
Did Mr. deSavary deliberately mislead the State and got concessions to do something that he never intended to do in the first place? Should the Port Louis Marina developer and his company be called upon to account for these concessions that he may have not rightfully been entitled to from government?
The Justice Margaret Mohammed judgement would clearly leave any reasonable and right thinking person to start to raise concerns about Mr. deSavary’s suitability to be a person to be associated with the sale of Grenadian passports as a new stream of revenue for our cash-strapped government.
If the judgement is to be taken in its rightful context then this investor is questionable as an agent – directly or indirectly – with the Citizenship by Investment programme.
The other issue of concern to us relates to the disclosure by the Minister of Education, Anthony Boatswain that the free school book programme of the former Congress government of Tillman Thomas was riddled with financial irregularities.
What is disturbing is the announcement by the minister that government took the decision not to proceed with a recommendation by the Audit Department to ask the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) to investigate and probe into the alleged wrong-doing.
Why would a Cabinet of Ministers venture into an area that it has no competence, capacity and capability?
Imagine the Audit Department pointing to corruption and wrong-doing by persons in the civil service and our government taking a decision to give them a little slap on the wrist.
The international community is watching and looking on at what is happening in Grenada. Is this how our authorities are dealing with taxpayers money? Why prevent and stop the FIU and Police Force from doing the investigation?
There is another aspect that is cause for concern with what Minister Boatswain was telling the nation.
It relates to the lack of systems that were put in place by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance to adequately run an important government programme and to take steps to ensure that corruption and mismanagement were minimised.
Is it any wonder that Grenada is now into a deep fiscal crisis given the laissez-faire approach to important financial matters by the senior officials in the Government Ministries and Departments and indeed the political directorate?