The issue of the embattled Capital Bank International of Finton De Bourg is back on the front burner.
At Tuesday’s post-Cabinet Press Briefing, the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell restated the commitment of his one-year old New National Party (NNP) government to honour its promise to pay out close to EC$500, 000.00 to nearly 4000 depositors holding under $500.00 at the bank which has been placed in Receivership.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine elaborated and announced that the cheques are being prepared and arrangements are being made to pay out the monies to the recipients.
While all this is happening, Mr. De Bourg is making renewed efforts to get government to honour a court order that the bank should be returned to him.
The legal papers for this suit, listed in the Court Records as GDAHCV2008/0109 was brought against government by barrister-at-law, Cajeton Hood of Justis Chambers who is now the principal legal advisor to government as the country’s Attorney-General.
It is interesting to know whether government is taking any advise from Mr. Hood on the Capbank issue.
It is apparent that the Prime Minister is not aware that a move has been made from inside the private law office of Mr. Hood to get the Capbank issue back before the court.
Dr. Mitchell might have been very truthful when he told the local media on Tuesday that he is not aware of moves afoot to get him to attend court in connection with the committal proceedings that was first started by the person now serving as his Attorney-General.
This newspaper has more than credible information that an attorney-at-law working from inside Justis Chambers has expressed an interest to the court that he would like suit 2008/0109 to be put on the list of cases before High Court No.3.
In that matter, Mr. Hood as attorney for Mr. De Bourg was trying to get the court to commit Mr. Burke as Minister of Finance to the Richmond Hill prison for failing to carry out the order of Justice Claire Henry in connection with the decision handed down on the David Holukoff issue.
Justice Henry had ruled on May 7, 2008 that the action taken by the former NNP government of Dr. Mitchell to appoint David Holukoff as the Receiver for the bank was illegal because “the appointment of the Receiver, having been made without the required recommendation from the (Eastern Caribbean) Central Bank, is invalid and is hereby revoked”.
The judge then ordered Mr. Holukoff to “deliver up possession of the business and premises together with the books, papers, documents and all other records found therein and keys and combination numbers” to Capbank and Mr. De Bourg.
The previous NNP regime appealed the decision of Justice Henry and the matter was stayed pending the outcome of a ruling from the Justices of the Court of Appeal.
The change of government in July 2008 resulted in the new Attorney-General, Jimmy Bristol and Mr. Hood reaching an agreement before the Court of Appeal on August 6, 2008 to discontinue the proceedings.
The effect of that decision was that the relevant authorities in Grenada had to take the next step and return CapitalBank to Mr. De Bourg in keeping with the ruling of Justice Henry.
The Congress government of then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas did no such thing and Mr. Hood of Justis Chambers then sought to move the court to commit Mr. Burke as Minister of Finance to the Richmond Hill prison for being in violation of the order with respect to the Receiver.
For whatever reason, this court matter filed by Mr. Hood seeking the imprisonment of Mr. Burke was not pushed in the law court for the past 5 years.
With Dr. Mitchell and NNP now back in power, the same Justis Chambers has made approaches to the court to get the committal matter back on the agenda of the court.
Mr. Burke is no longer the Minister of Finance. That position is now held by Prime Minister Mitchell. The effect of the move is to try to get the court to commit Dr. Mitchell to prison on the Capbank issue.
Mr. Prime Minister, please be on the alert and do not be caught off-guard with this unfolding event as something is happening with respect to Capbank and the Receivership.
THE NEW TODAY holds no brief for Mr. De Bourg since the position of this newspaper is that this St. George’s businessman should never have been given a licence to operate the bank by the NNP in the first place against the advice of the ECCB.
The other issue about Capbank is that the government ought to be careful about the payment of the close to EC$500, 000.00 to those small account holders.
If the ruling handed down by Justice Henry stands then it raises question as to the legality of the payment.
The teachers and other public sector workers will also be taking note about this payment to a group that is not on the payroll of the State.
The three public sector unions – GUT, TAWU and PWU – will feel whether rightly or wrongly that they should be paid the EC$12 million due to them in the form of backpay and not the CapBank depositors.
Oh what a tangled web!!!