Minister of State for Education, Senator Simon Stiell has branded as “politically-motivated” questions raised about alleged fraud of investor funds on the Levera project in the north of the island.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday at the post-Cabinet press briefing, Sen. Stiell said the numerous publications and questions being asked about the developers and former developers of the Levera Beach Resort project are politically motivated to try to stop the project.
He made the statement after a question was asked about the current US$1 million lawsuit filed in the island’s Supreme Court Registry on February 10 against former Director of the company doing the project, Robert Martin Oveson.
U.S-born national Roger Ver, now the holder of a St. Kitts Citizenship By Investment passport holder, is taking legal action against Oveson for the return of his money that was allegedly fleeced from him.
Ver alleges that the former Levera project developer took the money from him although he knew that the Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s had already turned down his application for a Grenadian passport under its CBI programme.
The man known as “Bitcoin Jesus” claimed that he had initially wired US$350, 000.00 in 2015 to the Mount Cinnamon project as part of efforts to obtain the passport but was lured out of US$1 million towards Levera by Oveson who indicated to him that he stood a better chance of getting through on the bigger project.
Sen. Stiell told reporters that he has taken note of “the amount of coverage and questions that are being asked about the Levera Project”.
“It raises questions certainly in my own mind as to why there is so much attention and so much resistance to the success of this project”, he said.
THE NEW TODAY is believed to be the only media house on the island giving full coverage to allegations of fraud made about Oveson on both the Levera project and a Housing and Condo project in Manzanillo, Mexico in 2008 involving U.S and Canadian investors.
Another major television and radio media house is known to have copies of the Ver lawsuit but has not provided extensive coverage of it.
According to Sen. Stiell, the Levera development should be seen as a project that is providing employment for “dozens” of Grenadians, and many opportunities to locals in the north of the country and especially in the parish of St. Patrick.
“…We are creating opportunity for our rural economy – opportunities that will transform the lives of Grenadians, yet, there seems to be a campaign to try and stop the project and as I said that raises many questions in whether there are those that are politically motivated to not see this project succeed, a project that is bringing real value to Grenadians that Oveson has nothing to do with,” he remarked.
Oveson and his brother Randall were identified in the Supreme Court Registry as directors of the Grenada Citizenship Development Limited and Levera Trading Limited which were registered to do the project in the north of the island.
After this newspaper carried an article on the problematic Mexico project, Levera put out a press release stating that Robert Martin Oveson had ceased to be a director in both companies since December 2016 but “continues to play key roles in running the Levera project”.
The release also said that Oveson has a clean Interpol, FBI, and Mexico Police records but made no mention of his Criminal conviction in Utah in 2013 on charges of Assault, Burglary and Domestic Violence in the presence of a child.
Sen. Stiell was also asked at the press briefing whether the NNP regime is concerned about its CBI programme in light of the million dollar lawsuit brought by Ver against Oveson in the local court.
He said this is merely a private matter between two private business persons and has absolutely nothing to do with government.
He claimed that Ver’s money was returned to him.
“Monies that he (Ver) would have paid the government as part of that application process on denial was returned to him, so, he has absolutely no issue with the programme or the government of Grenada.
“…The matter that has been brought before the court, as I said, between two foreign individuals relates to monies that were paid to the developer – monies that I believe was returned. However, the claimant is stating that he (is) seeking compensation for whatever reason and that is not to Oveson, that is to the company.
“This isn’t a matter that concerns us – we are comfortable in terms of government’s responsibility. We have fulfilled all our obligations timely and in keeping with the laws and the protections that are built into that.
“What I can say, is the person who had made these allegations, who has approached the courts is a former US citizen, who relinquished his US citizenship…is a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis. He applied for Grenadian citizenship through the CBI programme and that citizenship was denied. He has a criminal record and his application was denied so that clearly demonstrates that the process that we have in place, the system of due diligence is working.
A copy of the lawsuit obtained by THE NEW TODAY states that the matter is brought by Ver against Oveson, NTL Trust Limited and Grenada Citizenship Development Ltd.
The first hearing of the suit is fixed for Wednesday before female high court judge, Justice Wynante Adrian-Roberts sitting at No.3 high court on the Carenage.