September 7th, 2013
Mr. Tillman Thomas
National Democratic Congress
Dear Mr. Thomas,
Re The FARCE That Was: Task Force re Review of Agreements with Foreign Investors
Greetings from Citizens in Defence of Grenada’s Lands and Heritage! We trust that this letter finds you well, Sir, and savouring the relief of not having to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund. With a clean sweep of 15-0 seats, there is nothing standing in the way of the “delivery train”.
1. Task Force to Review Agreements:
Notwithstanding, Sir, there are a number of matters on which you, as former Prime Minister, remain accountable to the people. Among these are the matter of the Report of the Task Force that was convened to review the controversial agreements with foreign direct investors.
Among the many issues associated with these controversial agreements are/were alienation of the people’s property, the sweeping tax concessions, the suspect environmental, social and economic sustainability of some of these proposed projects.
Grenada had even guaranteed loans for a number of these projects and found itself holding the debts when the investors drew down the loan, folded up the projects and left while holding the title to the people’s assets.
Attorney Carol Bristol Q.C chaired the Task Force. It also included attorneys Lloyd Noel and Deborah St. Bernard and Chartered Accountant, Henry Joseph.
Given that your party had gotten into office, riding the wave of discontent in respect of the alienation on the people’s property, it was thought that your party had really believed in restoring the assets of the people, where possible. But it was with alarm, disbelief and grief that almost from the word go, promises were not supported by actions:-
* The Case of Grand Anse Beach and Time Bourke Holdings: The freehold title of some 20 acres of Grand Anse beach front, valued at US$15 million – was transferred on July 7th – ONE DAY before the general elections – for rather UNUSUAL consideration.
In October 2008, while you were assuring the people of your intention to ensure that the Grand Anse property be restored to the people, your Minister of Tourism and Attorney-General were holding another press conference advising that they were going to England to woo the racing Wonder Boy when negotiations with the occupiers of the property and Time Bourke broke down.
We the people had cause to ask in whose interests were these officials of your administration working? And then we learned that the Deed of Conveyance was recorded in the Deeds and Lands Registry of Grenada on the 3rd of October, even though the deal for the leasehold with the occupiers of the property had not been concluded1.
Nonetheless, due credit must be given to you, Sir, for persevering with this matter and finally making good on this promise, notwithstanding the legal entanglement. And of course, it was not lost on we the people that the former Attorney-General became the legal counsel for Time Bourke in this matter versus the people.
*Ambassador Georges Cohen of Calivigny Island and Ambassador Earleen Taylor of Levera Resort Development
On what basis were these persons appointed Ambassadors? To this date, your Minister of Foreign Affairs never offered an explanation. Clearly, he thought then that we the people were IDIOTS
*Ambassador Peter deSavary: And then Peter DeSavary was QUIETLY appointed an Ambassador!!?? We the people were confused!! We concluded that “what dey gi dem to rub, dey eat”!!
*CARICOM Heads of Governments Meeting and the People’s Business: We noted, Sir, that your party set a PRECEDENT in having the people’s business, CARICOM Heads of Government meeting, hosted on Ambassador Cohen’s Calivigny Island where we the people cannot even set foot on the beach!!
We have also noted that the new administration has been happy to follow suit and now Ambassador deSavary has got into the act. We understand that the CARICOM Foreign Ministers Meeting took place at deSavary’s Azzurra Castle Lance-aux-Epines and Mr. Cohen’s “Republique de l’Isle de Calivigny”!!
Island Hill, Ballast Ground and the Lagoon:
Among the transactions on which we the people awaited scrutiny were those pertaining to the Islander Hill, Ballast Ground and the Lagoon. We were already alerted by attorney Lloyd Noel that the transactions were clouded in secrecy and could be described as unusual.
Given that the Task Force findings were never released, Citizens in Defence of Grenada’s Lands and Heritage set about doing its own research and followed the transactions, based on the conveyances.
There are a number of things, which disturbed us: –
*Original Deed of Release: How could the Original Deed of Release of 5th October 2006 which purports to facilitate the transfer of the people’s property from Poole Capital to Peter deSavary’s Port Louis not be recorded in the Deeds and Lands Registry?
*Consideration: How could the consideration for the transfer be just EC$1.00?
*Lagoon and Lagoon Park: Did control of the Lagoon Park and the Lagoon really pass to Peter DeSavary?
*Port Louis – Camper and Nicholson Transaction: How could there be a release from London advising of a transaction of US$24 million between Peter deSavary’s Port Louis and Camper and Nicholson for property which included the Lagoon and there is no recorded evidence in the Deeds and Lands Registry of Port Louis’ control of the Lagoon?
The recorded transaction in the Deeds and Lands Registry was for USD2.15.million.
Lagoon Lease: The Lagoon Lease between the Government of Grenada and Camper and Nicholson Grenada Ltd. was made on 11th January 2008. This conveyance makes a vague reference to an Agreement of 2007 – no specifics like the date of the agreement or the parties to the agreement.
*Effective Date of Lagoon Lease: The lease was effective from October 5th, 2006 – that date again!! But since Camper and Nicholson Grenada Ltd. was a Special Purpose Vehicle created in early 2008 for the specific purpose of holding the property, how could it be possible that a lease agreement with this company be effective from October 5th, 2006?
These were just some of the queries that the people had hoped the Task Force Review would shed some light on and recommend redress where possible.
Bank of Nova Scotia USD 25 Million Loan to Camper and Nicholson Grenada Ltd. – October 2008:
In October 2008, three months after your administration took office, Camper and Nicholson announced a loan of USD25 million from the Bank of Nova Scotia. What is very interesting but may not surprise we the people is that the people’s property was mortgaged to the Bank of Nova Scotia.
That property comprised:
*Properties transferred from Port Louis Land Ltd. via Indenture of Conveyance – Liber 9-2008 page 706 – for a consideration of USD2.15 million – 59.795 sq.ft; 40,000 sq.ft., 0.82 acres and 884 sq. ft.
*Foreshore and seabed in the Lagoon – lease between Government of Grenada and Camper and Nicholson Grenada Ltd. – Liber 9-2008, page 721, – a lease made on January 11th, 2008.
Government Authorisation re Mortgage:
To facilitate this transaction, the PERMISSION of the Government of Grenada was required. The Bank of Nova Scotia now has claim to the people’s property, COURTESY the consents given by YOUR administration – advised, we can only assume, by the then Attorney General.
After all, that is the role of the office of Attorney General. Did Mr. James Bristol, in his capacity as Attorney General advise the three-month old administration in respect of this authorisation?
Attorneys Acting on Behalf of the Bank:
What is MOST interesting about this transaction is that the firm of HENRY, HENRY AND BRISTOL acted on behalf of the Bank of Nova Scotia. We the people might recall that the principal partners of the firm were/are:
*Attorney Carol Bristol Q.C. – Mr. Bristol Q.C. was heading the Task Force Committee responsible for reviewing agreements
*Mr. James Bristol – In October 2008, Mr. Bristol was Attorney General and returned to the firm about a year later after being asked to resign.
Conflict of Interests/Perception of Conflict of interests:
Again we have cause to ask the question, was there a CONFLICT OF INTERESTS in the positions held by Messrs. Bristol and Bristol as Attorney-General and Task Force Member respectively?
Could their private interests (Chambers of Henry, Henry and Bristol) be perceived as a conflict of interests with the public interests – Attorney General and Task Force member – that they were called upon to serve?
It really does bother us, Sir, that NOT EVEN ONCE during your tenure did your administration provided an update on the Task Force findings – even if to simply advise that your administration had put the matters to rest and was moving on. That is what we thought transparency and accountability were about.
Sending the Fools Further On:
Therefore, Sir, you would appreciate and perhaps forgive our very cynical conclusion that the exercise was a farce and that your administration was “sending the fools further on” every time information was requested about the status of Task Force Review.
The people of Grenada will judge for themselves.
(Citizens in Defence of Grenada’s Lands and Heritage will continue its search for answers)
Sandra C.A. Ferguson
1 Noel, Lloyd, Where does the truth reside now” in Caribbean Net News of October 15th, 2008
The FARCE That Was: Task Force re Review of Agreements with Foreign Investors
September 7th, 2013