Trade Union Representative in the Senate, Rae Roberts has called on the Keith Mitchell-led administration to fire the multi-millionaire, Peter deSavary who has been serving as an Ambassador of Grenada.
In his contribution to the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Bill, 2013, which makes provisions for persons to purchase residency and citizenship of Grenada,
Roberts pointed an accusing finger at deSavary as one who is already abusing the system even before its passage in Parliament.
“The process of abuse has started already” with the advertisement for sale of Grenada’s passports by deSavary’s business – Mount Cinnamon even before the Bill becomes law”, he told law makers at the last sitting of the Senate.
Sen. Roberts pointed out that a website operated by the English-born Ambassador had published information about the sale of Grenadian passports since March and questioned why government allowed the website to put out the information for the world to see.
“The website gives the impression that we have a banana republic, that is what the website gives. The man (deSavary) already articulated what he thinks and wants to say and the Parliament has not yet approved this document. I doubt that behaviour would have been tolerated in the United Kingdom or Canada or even Barbados.
“Money and Investment must not be the criteria to disrespect a nation and a people and it is a known fact that this gentleman who owns this property (Mount Cinnamon) is one of our ambassadors, the website claims that he is an ambassador … and if he is, I call on the Prime Minister to fire him, cause what he is doing is abus(ing) the country, he is disregarding the whole process of here (Parliament), we are just here and he’s already done his own thing.
“If we are serious and we demand respect for our Parliament and our people, fire this ambassador, if he’s really an ambassador.”
deSavary is suspected in opposition quarters as one who pumped large sums of money into the coffers of Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) to help win the February 19 general elections in Grenada.
Roberts also expressed concern at the involvement of the wife of Foreign Affairs and International Affairs Minister, Nicholas Steele in the publication seen on the website.
He told the Senate meeting that Michelle Emmanuel-Steele of the law firm Veritas Legal is listed on the website as the local lawyer and agent for the programme.
“Mr. President if that is the transparency and accountability that we are in, Mr. President, I am worried … to me it doesn’t smell right, on face value it does not give the right impression”, he said.
The trade union representative stated that based on information seen on the website, deSavary estimates that he can make in excess of US$34 million under this programme.
It is alleged that the publication disclosed that persons can obtain a Grenadian passport by investing one million U.S dollars with a deSavary real estate project.
Roberts recalled that a previous citizenship by investment programme initiated by a former Mitchell government was a disaster 12 years ago and he is seeing similar trends in the draft legislation in a world that is now even more dangerous than back then.
“The Talaban would love this document”, he told the Senate.
Canada had imposed a visa requirement on Grenadians wanting to visit the country out of concerns that it could not determine the legitimate holders of Grenadian passports as opposed to those who purchased their citizenship.
This came on the heels of the terrorist strike in the United States in which two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in Manhattan killing over 2000 persons.
The media was not spared from Sen. Robert’s wrath, as he called on practitioners not to be spoon-fed but engage in investigative journalism to bring out the truth.
“You ought not to be spoon fed … research both programmes, don’t just accept what you heard here this morning from anyone of us, you do your investigation”.
Former Minister for Education in the Congress government, Franka Bernadine also expressed concern with the naming of the wife of the Foreign Affairs Minister as one of the local lawyers involved in the programme once implemented into law.
Sen. Bernadine made it clear that there is nothing wrong with Steele as an individual but is concerned with the principle involved.
“What has happened with the broad slew of lawyers across the board? Why have we tagged this into certain key people? The talk on the street, Mr. President, is that this here looks like a beneficiary package for three or four persons.”
Sen. Bernadine urged the Government to be guided by the island’s history on the sale of passports.
“We hold sacred, our citizenship, our Grenadian citizenship”, she said.
Former Finance Minister, under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) led government, Nazim Burke, said that the New National Party (NNP) administration is trying to ask Parliamentarians to rubber stamp a “scheme” that is already in full gear.
Sen. Burke said that while he supports the implementation of a citizenship by investment programme in principle, he cannot support the draft bill in its present form as it is nothing more than an embarrassment to Parliament and Grenadians.
He believes that the programme was implemented ever since Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Dr Keith Mitchell presented the Budget of Revenue and Expenditure in March.
During its own four-and-a-half year stint in government, the Congress administration was giving serious thought to a Citizenship by Investment Programe with a group of international lawyers.