CaribUpdate attacks female attorney

The publishers of CaribUpdate Weekly have launched a scathing attack on local Attorney-at-law, Claudette Joseph for the position she has taken on the seven Bills to be voted upon in the upcoming referendum on Constitutional Reform.

Joseph has been pointing out flaws in the seven Constitution Bills in written articles published in the local media and appearances on programmers aired on some radio and television stations.

She was the subject of a recent attack by Caribupdate whose founder is Hamlet Mark, the current Senior Media Advisor to the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell.

A front-page article in the newspaper branded Joseph as the face of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the referendum.

In response, the female attorney said that while the weekly CaribUpdate is seeking to discredit her, she is not disturbed as she sees herself as being one of the voices of the people.

Appearing on the weekly NDC Radio Heartbeat Programme last Sunday, Joseph said the newspaper charged that initially she supported the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), but has now changed to advising people to vote “no” on every Bill.

“I challenge Mr. Hamlet Mark and those at the CaribUpdate (Weekly) Newspaper to show me where, any where, in my postings on social media, my interviews on radio and television, my articles I have written so far, show me where I said to vote “no” on anything,” she said.

According to Joseph, to date no one has been able to refute the truth about what she has said about the Bills in the public domain.

She pointed out that all she does is to read the sections of the bill as a Lawyer, interpret them and explain to the people “in non-technical plain English Language” what the sections state.

She said that before publishing the articles she gets at least two of her legal colleagues within the Grenada Bar Association (GBA) to proofread them.

“They (CaribUpdate) cannot shoot down the message that I bring, so they’re trying to discredit me by labeling me as being part of the NDC,” she remarked.

The female attorney stressed that she has never bowed to pressure in the past so the efforts of the Mark-led publication to discredit her will not work.

“Stop trying to spin this thing into what it’s not,” she advised her detractors.

Joseph said she has come to realise that every flaw in the bills that Congress has alluded to turned out to be correct.

However, she said it is unfortunate that the people of Grenada did not generally accept it.

The female attorney indicated that during her public discourse she has been speaking about the flaws that are contained in the process of the referendum which is scheduled for November 24th.

She noted that interestingly Lecturer at the Barbados campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr. Wendy Grenade who was a guest on last week’s “Sunday’s With George Grant Programme” in the company of Chairman of the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) repeatedly spoke of the process being flawed.

Dr. Grenade who presented a lecture on “Grenada Constitution Reform Special Assembly” told the host of the programme that as a student of democracy she has a serious problem with the process.
She spoke of wanting to see in the referendum a maximum overhaul of the constitution which she said is important.

“We are renewing our independence compact with Grenada… and we should have done it better than this,” said Dr. Grenade.

She also said she wanted to see a reduction in the powers of the Prime Minister, proportional representation, and powers of recall of a Parliamentary Representative as part of the referendum.

“I think the process was flawed,” Dr. Grenade told the programme host.

The UWI lecturer believes that the content and process were compromised, but the method is good.

Attorney Joseph chided Dr. Alexis for his failure to not challenge Dr. Grenade.

“Dr. Alexis was there with her (Wendy Grenade) as a guest and not one occasion did he chime in to challenge her, and mind you she was here on the invitation of CRAC… and she said quite categorically in her capacity as a Political Scientist that the process was very flawed…”, she said.

“… Dr. Alexis – unlike when I say it in his presence or otherwise, he did not attack her, he did not try to defend it, he did not try to say that is not the case,” she added.

Taking care of your teeth!!!

Flossing, brushing teeth after meals and visiting the dentist at least twice a year are not the only tooth-friendly tips that work; but when and what we eat are also crucial.

The foods we eat can either strengthen or destroy our teeth and gums.

The key is to consume foods that contain the best nutrients to fight cavities and prevent plague build up.

When a tooth is repeatedly exposed to acid, the enamel loses most of its minerals. Eating and drinking often, especially foods that contain a lot of sugar and starch causes loss of minerals and over-time can lead to tooth decay.

In its early stages, tooth decay can be remedied; as the enamel is able to repair itself using minerals from saliva and fluoride toothpaste. Left untreated or with continued sugary food choices, cavities are formed and the enamel is weakened and destroyed.

A dental cavity is a hole in the tooth that can only be repaired when a dentist puts in a filling. The other option is having the infected tooth removed.

Tooth decay and cavities are preventable if the right foods are eaten.

Try fiber-rich foods and vegetables like apples, golden apples, carrots or sugar cane that will stimulate saliva flow, creating a natural defense to cavities.

Dairy products like milk, cheese or plain yogurt provide needed calcium, phosphates and Vitamin D for healthy teeth. If you are allergic to or just don’t like the taste of milk, try calcium-fortified juices or soy milks that can supply enough of the needed calcium in your diet.

If you are a fan of chewing gum, switch to sugar-free gum after meals or snacks. It will help wash harmful acids off your teeth. Don’t opt for chewing gum that contains sugar as it may increase your chances of cavities.

Drink water that contains fluoride or juices made with fluoridated water.

Some tooth-friendly tips: limit eating between meals and snacks so that your teeth would have less acid attacks and have a chance to repair themselves. Lessen on sweets like candies, cookies, soft drinks and save sugary foods and drinks for special occasions.

Brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
Parents, don’t let your child eat or drink anything that has sugar in it late at nights or after bedtime tooth brushing.

(The above was submitted by the Grenada Food & Nutrition Council)

Two charged with yacht robbery – one escape custody

Police have apprehended two men from St. Andrew’s in connection with a spate of robberies that has been taking place for over six months on a number of yachts.

However, one of the suspects escaped lawful police custody on Tuesday.

A release from the Community Relations Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) said that Rondel Jones and Jayar Ross of Marquis, St. Andrew’s were apprehended by the lawmen during a police operation last Sunday.

According to the release, 19-year old Ross who sports a dreadlocks hairstyle managed to escape lawful custody.

The escapee has been described as being five feet, four inches in height, and brown skinned with numerous tattoos over his body.

The release said the police recovered a quantity of items believed to have been stolen from a yacht that was docked at Clarke’s Court Bay in St. George’s.

THE NEW TODAY understands that among the items recovered were laptop computers and cellular phones.

While additional charges are expected to be laid on the accused men, charges of housebreaking and stealing over $14,000 in cash and articles have been slapped on Jones and Ross.

The release said that the arrest of the St. Andrew’s men has broadened police investigations into a number of other break-ins as they continue to recover more items believed to have been stolen from other yachts.

Genuine concerns about referendum

The Supervisor of Elections
Parliamentary Elections Office
Tanteen
ST. GEORGE.

Dear Mr. Alex Phillip,

Greetings and God’s Blessings for our nation!

I write in my personal capacity as a citizen; one who is eligible and registered to vote in national elections including referenda. I write to seek clarification and to advise your Office and by extension the Government of Grenada accordingly, on the subject of the holding of the upcoming constitutional referendum.

I have participated and contributed in various public fora including those organised by the Government.   On the matter of constitutional reform, I have had attendance at meetings with the late Professor Simeon Randolph Mc Intosh and at the national consultation held in December 2010 by the government led by the National Democratic Congress. I was also present at the national consultation held by the government led by the New National Party in October 2014 and have been involved in some of the other activities of the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC).

With the resumption of the constitutional reform exercise by the Government in January 2014, I have started alerting all parties (the powers-that-be and the ordinary people) of the need for ‘intelligent, noble and patriotic’ attitude and approach to the exercise. To-date I have written over forty (40) pertinent articles, most of which can be found on the Internet by typing the lead caption “Grenada Constitution Reform . . . by J. K. Roberts”(Sound Public Policies Advocate).

Very early on the resumption of the exercise on constitutional reform, I have raised some irregularities and out-of-context treatments of the exercise; and as an example, a date for the referendum was announced in July 2014 for a referendum on 10 February 2015 without the recognition of a Referendum Act consistent with section 39(6) of the constitution. I have brought-up the issue of the importance of satisfying section 39(6) in my articles and also at meetings including those of the missions of the United Nations Development Programme stationed in Barbados, which led to the enactment of the Constitutional Referendum Act in August 2016.

There are genuine concerns that all of the Bills pertinent to the referendum were passed in Parliament without due process and proper procedures, as well as without sound debates and public awareness.

Whilst your Office is not responsible for the enactment of the resultant Acts, and in particular, there is nothing that it can do regarding the Constitutional Amendment Bills for the referendum, the office however is essentially the executing agency for the Constitutional Referendum Act (Act No. 25 of 2016) and therefore it has a solemn responsibility to ensure that the application of the Act does not negatively affect the outcome of the referendum. Any unprincipled or prejudiced factor associated with the referendum would produce a negative or an unfavourable outcome, which may prevent me from enjoying the benefit of my vote.

It is easy and fair to conclude that the manner regarding the enactment and application of the Referendum Act (No. 25, 2016) has been ‘hasty and haphazard’. The certification of the Bill for the Act as a Money Bill, by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is yet to be accurately constitutionally-verified.  There is evidence of poor drafting of the Bill and even with the soon amendment of Act No. 25 of 2016 with Act No. 26 of 2016, ambiguities remain.  The confused interpretation of the Acts as regards the validity of the 27th October 2016 referendum date, with respect to the issuing on 23rd September 2016 of the first set of writs is unfortunate; section 4 and section 5(2) of the Principal Act seems to be in conflict.

Moreover, the main reason explained by the Government for a delay of the referendum does not comply with any of the conditions for the adjournment of the referendum date as provided for under section 7 of the said Act No. 25 of 2016.

It has been observed that your Office, the CRAC and some other bodies have been informing the people on different versions of the ballot paper for the referendum. I have further observed that the form of the sample of the ballot paper promoted and publicised by your office is apparently not consistent with section 10(3) of the Constitutional Referendum Act, and in particular with the form for the ballot paper outlined in the Second Schedule Form No. 3 of the Regulations to the Act.

The official Form to be used for the referendum seems to be having a number of symbols or features, as well as a numbering scheme for reading and identifying and responding to the constitutional referendum questions, contrary to the statutory provisions.

Further to considering the aforementioned, it is imperative to consider also that generally the referendum event is a completely ‘new and strange’ experience for the people; that the referendum process including the nature and number of proposals to be voted-on, is of confused complexity; that the period used for the sensitisation and education of the people on voting at the referendum has been grossly inadequate; and that the level of illiteracy/literacy of the electorate impacts the making of an informed vote.

Moreover, the mark for expressing a valid vote is not ‘clear and definite’; this assertion is in reference to the Regulations and Form No. 4, which speaks to the Direction to Voters.   All of these considerations, if not astutely addressed, may induce a greater chance for an official of the polls to direct or influence the voter in making the vote, in performing the role of the presiding officer to “instruct the elector how to cast his or her vote” (Regulations 22 refers); and thereby substantially affecting the outcome of the referendum.

There is a grave lack of confidence and interest by the people in the present referendum process, and notwithstanding the Referendum Act provides for constitutional referendum petition by citizens for judicial redress, every ‘moral endeavour’ must be employed to avoid the discomfort of court action on the integrity of the referendum.

Awkwardness prevails when for example, the Act also stipulates that its regulations are “subject to negative resolution”; that is, the regulations made (good or bad) are used and validated without being probed and judged by Parliament.

Outrageous levels of error, inconsistency and deficiency spell an illegal and questionable referendum.    However, there should be no cause on your part to bring the good office of the Parliamentary Elections Office into disrepute, with respect to the conduct of the constitutional referendum.

Please be guided accordingly.

Sincerely Yours

J. K. ROBERTS (Mr.)

CC:   Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell
Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives, Parliament
Dr. Francis Alexis, CRAC
The Media
Grouping of Civil Society Organisations
National Democratic Congress
United Nations Development Programme, Barbados.

GTA and stakeholders working together

The Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) has been actively working with stakeholders in the cruise industry to develop marketing strategies that will build value and promote growth in the country’s economy.

According to Manager of Nautical Development at the GTA, Nikoyan Roberts, key strategies used to develop the cruise industry include trade show marketing, which is used as a medium to advertise, introduce and promote Grenadian products and services into the market.

Roberts, who was at the time addressing a press conference held at GTA’s St. George’s office said the local body has also been taking advantage of cross-media marketing, which is a form of cross-promotion as a means to surpass traditional advertisement techniques.

“We also use direct marketing, where we go on sales tours, we visit the cruise executives, travel agents (et cetera) to share information with them about Grenada’s uniqueness, our products, attractions (and) services,” she told reporters.

However, Roberts said that while “the marketing initiatives (mentioned above) are good, they are also expensive.”

She pointed to the successful use of “social media marketing and word of mouth marketing, which are conducted at a lower cost (to) engage with our consumers, key decision makers and to encourage more ships and cruise visitors to come to Grenada.”

This year, the GTA marketed the Pure Grenada destination at three trade shows targeting the cruise industry.

These were the 3-day Seatrade Cruise Global at Fort Lauderdale, Florida in March; where the delegation engaged with a global audience; the Cruise360 in Vancouver, Canada, which brings together travel professionals, cruise line representatives, ports & destinations, industry suppliers and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), preferred partners for a truly panoramic view of the cruise industry.

Roberts said the various participants were provided with the necessary “tools to stimulate interest in Grenada and to book their clients to come to Grenada on a cruise trip or for a longer stay.”

Additionally, in September, tourism officials attended the 23rd annual Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Cruise Conference and Trade Show in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Roberts commended the cruise industry partners for their support over the years, singling out the Grenada Port Authority (GPA) for consistency of support.

“Since 2014, when the GTA came into existence, Grenada Ports Authority has supported all of our trade show marketing initiatives by paying for 25% of the booth exhibition cost,” she said.

“We thank them,” she added, pointing to the need for “unity and business collaboration in order to make the best impact on the market that we are trying to attract to Grenada for cruise.

This year, GTA Cruise partners include Operations Manager at Tropical Charm, Pierre Jean Spinosi, Manager Designate of the Shipping Department of George F. Huggins Co. Ltd, Sheldon Alexander, and Andrew Bierzynski who represents Best of Grenada that operates the Rhum Runner.

The passing of Sir Nicholas

Scores of family members, close relatives and friends turned out in their numbers last week Friday to pay their last respect to the island’s Fifth Prime Minister, Sir Nicholas Alexander Brathwaite at a Memorial Service held at the Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church at Grand Anse, St. George’s, according to Anglican Rites.

Police Officers took the coffin from the hearse onto the platform at the entrance of the church

Police Officers took the coffin from the hearse onto the platform at the entrance of the church

Governor-General, Dame Cecile La Grenade and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell file passed the casket that was draped with the national flag.

Sir Nicholas who was charged with the task of helping to restore democracy on the island in 1983 following the collapse of the 1979-1983 Grenada Revolution, died on October 28th at his home in The Villa, St. George’s following a brief illness.

The exemplary life of the 91-year old former Prime Minister was articulated by the Venerable Christian Glasgow of the Anglican Church who was the Celebrant at the Service.

Archdeacon Glasgow said that by all accounts, Sir Nicholas was guided by some specific principles in his life.

“He lived by them, and he sought, in more ways than one, to express an understanding of the control that God often has in his life (and) in his daily interactions with persons,” he said.

The Cleric told the congregation that a careful survey of persons who came to know Sir Nicholas, and to work with him… “you will hear them say he was a gentleman”.

A section of the police band was on hand to provide music at the funeral

A section of the police band was on hand to provide music at the funeral

However, he said being “a gentleman” does not mean Sir Nicholas was soft-spoken and said “yes, yes to every and any thing”.

“But being a gentleman is the fact that he lived by specific principles, he was directed by specific principles, and he lived by those principles,” he remarked.

Archdeacon Glasgow stressed that a close look at Sir Nicholas’ life will reveal that he carefully thought out things, and carefully and meticulously prepared for things.

“I feel that I can say… that Sir Nicholas carefully prepared for this eventuality,” he said.

The Archdeacon stated that when he queried why Sir Nicholas wanted to be buried at sea he was given a story of his near-death experience in the deep waters.

“In essence (the story) says that Sir Nicholas felt that he was called to be in the deep for ever and ever by the several personal experiences that he had in life.

“I am told that at one time he was given up for dead at sea. The wake was actually taking place when he walked home.

Final commendation being given to the body of late Prime Minister Sir Nicholas Brathwaite

Final commendation being given to the body of late Prime Minister Sir Nicholas Brathwaite

The Anglican cleric said Sir Nicholas will now have his final rest at sea as he believes that is where his final earthly remains are called to be.

The Celebrant believes that after Sir Nicholas stepped down as Prime Minister and entered his private life in peace and quiet in 1995, he would have had a chance to exercise his philosophical mind and review his own living.

“This, I feel certain was how Sir Nicholas spent the last years of his existence,” he said.’

“I was always impressed by the fact that when he withdrew from public life, that’s exactly what he did – he withdrew from public life and he spent quality time, to my mind, for this eventually,” he added.

The Head of the local Anglican Church did not loose sight of trying to comfort the grieving relatives.

He indicated that words cannot truly convey the sentiments the former Prime Minister intended to pass on, and neither can they fill the void that is left in the life of the bereaved at the passing of the loved one.

“And yet we say to you that as Christians do not mourn and grieve as people without hope,” he said.
Archdeacon Glasgow implored the family to take comfort and solace in the faith that Sir Nicholas had.

Sir Nicholas who was the second Prime Minister of Grenada to have been born on the sister isle of Carriacou was brought there on Monday for an ecumenical service.

His body was taken out to sea on Tuesday morning for burial in-keeping with his wishes.

Sir Nicholas had left behind specific instructions to family members that there should not be a State Funeral for him, and no eulogy or tributes at any of his two church services.

Minister Steele: No change from government on Charles Liu

“What happens with Mr. Liu in the United States is an issue between him and the United States civil court. We as a responsible government adopt the position of observing…Government’s position remains the same.”

That was the response from Health Minister, Nicholas Steele at last week’s post-Cabinet press briefing in response to a recent US court order on Chinese investor Charles Liu, who serves as a Grenadian diplomat at its Embassy in Beijing.

Liu is known to have obtained a Grenadian passport under its Citizenship by Investment programme.

The court order in the U.S is for the Chinese businessman to repatriate funds that he diverted to China that he obtained from foreign investors towards a proton cancer treatment center (Beverly Proton Centre) in Southern California, which never materialised.

In response to questions posed by a NEW TODAY reporter during the press conference, Minister Steele said the Grenada government had “communicated from day one with the US authorities and our concern has always been whether there has been any laws broken in Grenada or whether any of the civil suit issues relates to activities here in Grenada”

“To date the communications we have received does not show that,” and so, investigations have not been launched locally”, he remarked.

However, the senior government minister gave assurances that “we (government) will continue to monitor (the court action against Liu in the US) and take the appropriate action in the best interest of Grenada”.

Minister Steele reiterated that the Mt. Hartman investment project will proceed as planned.
He said:  “Based on reports from Mr. Liu’s representatives here they are going ahead (with the project) as scheduled (with construction set to commence) within the first quarter of next year”.

One of the representative told this newspaper about two months ago that new investors are being lined up for the project but did not give any details.

There are unconfirmed reports that a Russian might be one of the persons being “courted” for the Mt. Hartman project.

According to Minister Steele, the proposed project involving Liu “is not a government project (and that) government’s duty is to make sure that the funds (being spent on the project) are not related to any civil activities or illegal activities et cetera”.

He said once the project starts it will provide employment for many Grenadians.

In June, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) in the U.S laid fraud charges against Liu and his wife Lisa Wang, who are accused of misusing approximately two thirds of monies (USD24.7M) raised for the cancer treatment center.

The Keith Mitchell Government in St. George’s has granted concessions to Liu who was being promoted as the major investor in a proposed EC$2 Billion dollar project at Mt. Hartman Grand Anse, St. George.

The administration has consistently expressed the view that there was no reason to believe that there was a relationship between the alleged fraudulent activities and activities in Grenada of Liu and elsewhere.

Speculation is rife that some of the monies that the SEC is after might have been sent by the Chinese investor to Grenada.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has called for an investigation to be launched to determine if Liu and his wife have been engaged in illegal activities in the country.

Response to Fr. Sean Doggert’s article on gender equality

With the raging debate on the Rights and Freedoms Bill being put to the people by referendum scheduled for November 24, 2016, everyone seems to have an opinion. No doubt, Catholics are looking to their priests for guidance, as well. After reading Fr. Sean’s article, I realised that it was his personal opinion and I immediately wondered why his personal opinion is so far removed from that of the Church’s teaching as I know it.

Let me be clear from the outset. All of God’s children, regardless of sex, belief, place of origin, and so on, are welcomed by the Catholic Church and must be protected by the constitution of the country and their rights must be protected.

The issue is not rejecting LGBTQ people; they too have their rights and I respect that. Also, I support equal pay for equal work and believe that both sexes should enjoy equal rights at all times.

Pope Francis seems to have been quoted very selectively by Fr. Sean.

The quote used is an off the cuff remark made to journalists on an aircraft with regard to gays. He has made much more profound statements dealing with gender and I wonder what informed the choice of quote.

Here is a quote from an article with reference to ‘gender theory’ which is much more relevant to the discussion taking place about the bill. “Trying to “change attitudes” like this is “ideological colonisation,” the pope said, building on comments he made on Saturday in Tbilisi, when he argued that gender theory was part of a “global war” on traditional family values and marriage. Gender theory is, broadly speaking, the idea that while people may be biologically male or female, they may choose to identify as male or female – or both or neither.” https://www.thelocal.it/20161003/pope-francis-teaching-gender-theory-is-indoctrination.

The issue being debated is not homosexuality and the provision of pastoral care. The church has always taught that pastoral care must be provided to homosexuals. The church has requested that homosexuals practice celibacy.

The following are two excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

“2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm

The issue of concern in the referendum is the use of the word ‘gender’ and its definition. The local Catholic lawyers whose opinion Fr. Sean criticises and attributes to their political affiliation, are saying that it introduces “gender theory” and as such, their position AND their opinion, is in accord with the opinion of Pope Francis and his condemnation of gender theory as part of a “global war” against traditional marriage and the family.

I wonder if the Catholic lawyers from the region who were mentioned in the article, really did give that advice. If they did, they are wrong and Fr. Sean ought to know that. In my opinion, the article is written with a political bias and does not give the perspective or teaching of the church.

“The Pope has been an outspoken critic of the LGBT lobby’s efforts worldwide to impose same-sex marriage and theories of gender fluidity that separate gender from biological sexual differences and blur the essential differences between men and women.”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/10/28/pope-francis-decries-troubling-trend-blur-sexual-differences/

Fr. Sean appeared to show political bias when he said “It is very sad that it is perceived that our Catholic lawyers are allowing their political affiliations to influence their judgement.” Why would he come to that conclusion? Why is he so judgmental? The question is, has his political affiliation influenced his opinion and his need to write that article? Has he abandoned the teaching and leadership of Pope Francis for the teaching and leadership of a local political leader?

Things that make me say hmmm.

By the way, a paper released recently by the American College of Paediatricians on gender dysphoria (GD) in children – a psychological condition in which children experience a marked incongruence between their experienced gender and their biological sex – suggests that Pope Francis was fundamentally correct in his criticism of gender theory.

Pediatricians back Pope Francis on ‘gender theory’


This response is in my personal capacity and NOT as Chairman of the National Democratic Congress. I respond as a practicing Catholic concerned with what appears to be political bias of a Catholic priest in an article published originally in the Catholic Focus as his personal opinion.

Vincent Invictus Roberts
‘Carpe diem’
If not me, who? If not now, when?
One People, One Voice!

Brown Athletes’ Liaison For Grenada Invitational

CHRIS “Fireman” Brown is confident of a successful Invitational Track & Field Meet in Grenada next April.

Brown, who recently visited the island to meet with key stakeholders, has been contracted as a consultant and athletes’ liaison for the inaugural Grenada Invitational.

The meet will be held at the National Athletic Stadium in St George’s on April 8, 2017.

“Things are shaping up to be very exciting. On the ground in Grenada I experienced the excitement and buzz from among the locals,” Brown said.

“I was impressed with the facilities and the willingness from the stakeholders to get this thing done and this is a good sign.

“The athletes and coaches are excited about this invitational in Grenada and as an athlete I know what the expectations are. I think we’re off to a great start and the LOC is doing a good job on the ground and we want to keep that momentum going into the day of competition.”

As a competitor and meet organiser, the Bahamian five-time Olympian promises a memorable experience for Grenadians.

“Definitely,” Brown stressed. “God has blessed me to be able to compete and organise meets. I think this event will be history-making for Grenada and it’s a great feeling when you have this support and with God’s guidance. We expect the fans to come out and enjoy this event – a night full of excitement and a night to remember!”

The Grenada Invitational is the brainchild of Grenadian sports journalist Michael Bascombe who has attended many international sporting events, including the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational in Nassau.

“Grenadians have been cheated of international track and field even though they have produced their fair share, including former World and Olympic 400m champion Kirani James,” Bascombe stated.

“We have the facilities and the capacity and with the right people and approach we should deliver a successful event.”

The Local Organising Committee (LOC) is headed by Dexter Mitchell, a local events manager. Mitchell has been involved in the local entertainment industry for more than 15 years, including head of the Carnival Committee.

“Things are progressing very well. We’re in November and we’re preparing as if the meet is in January,” Michell projected. “A lot of plans are way advanced. The LOC is up and running. The sub-committees of the LOC are up and running. Everyone is excited.

“We’ve begun the process of touching base with potential sponsors, and they’re excited, and the media houses are also excited and waiting to come on board. I think generally we’re in full operational mode for the delivery of a fantastic event come April 8, 2017.”

The Grenada Invitational is sanctioned as an Area Permit Meet (APM) by the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) and will be the first major track and field meet of the 2017 outdoor season.

Jury returns guilty verdict on Finton De Bourg

December 15 is the date set for sentencing of controversial citybusinessman, Finton DeBourg who has been found guilty of several charges related to the collapsed Capital Bank International in which depositors lost millions of dollars.

Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Nelson, QC, accompanied by his assistant Brandon La Touche following the court proceedings

Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Nelson, QC, accompanied
by his assistant Brandon La Touche following the court proceedings

After a period of six weeks, the long awaited De Bourg fraud trial came to an end last week Thursday at High Court No. 2, with presiding judge, Justice Paula Gilford remanding him to the Richmond Hill Prisons after he was found guilty on all six counts brought against him by the State.

Charges were slapped on the controversial businessman following the collapse of Capbank International in which he served as the Chief Executive Officer.

De Bourg was found guilty on one count of fraudulently applying for his own benefit EC$$975,119.97 from Capbank  between October 1, 2002 and March 31, 2004 and another count of fraudulently applying an additional sum of EC$15, 650, 538.28 for his own benefit between September 4, 2004 and February 15, 2008.

He was also found guilty on three counts of falsifying the Minutes of meetings of the Board of Directors dated April 21, 2005, February 15,2006 and June 1, 2007, and also between the period of June 1, 2007 and August 31, 2007, as a Director of CapBank.

Evidence provided during the trial showed that De Bourg gave instructions for the alteration of the minutes of the Board of Directors for the approval of a loan to his company, Native Hut Ltd., in the amount of approximately EC$10M, at an interest rate of 11% when the interest rate should have been at least 3% higher at the time.

After a period of time, the loan had increased to approximately EC$50M and upon the advice of the bank’s auditors, Native Hut’s overdraft loan was transferred into a mortgage loan as the overdraft facility was becoming too high.

The trial revealed that Native Hut Ltd. operated approximately 25 stores inside of South City Plaza building, which was owned and operated by De Bourg and his wife.

Testimony was also given that De Bourg would often give instructions for CapBank funds to be used to pay off Native Hut’s expenses, such as utility bills, which would have contributed to the significant increase in the loan.

Evidence was also provided showing that without the approval of the Board of Directors and the client, One Call Construction Ltd, owned and operated by Baptist Minister, Pastor Stanford Simon, De Bourg gave instructions to create an overdraft facility for the businessman.

Police escorting former CapBank CEO, Finton De Bourg from High Court No. 2 in handcuffs last week Thursday

Police escorting former CapBank CEO, Finton De Bourg from High Court No. 2 in handcuffs last week Thursday

The facility, in the amount of $50, 000, was also used from time to time to pay Native Hut’s expenses.

In his defense, De Bourg contended that he never falsified any minutes or accounts and that monies were owed to One Call Construction which was contracted to build the South City Plaza.

He also alleged that the Native Hut overdraft loan could not have been increased to EC$50M as the maximum sum held by the bank at the time did not surpass more than “$30.5M.”

De Bourg said that as CEO of CapBank, he was not in a position to deal with loans and other financial transactions, as there were other persons charged with those responsibilities.    The businessman had earlier told the court that the Prosecution did not produce sufficient evidence against him and that the evidence provided by some state witnesses were inconsistent and requested that all the charges be dismissed against him.

However, Madam Justice Gilford did not grant his request and took the position that the state did have a strong case against De Bourg.

Having summed up the case last week Thursday, the Guyana-born female justice instructed the eight-member jury to retire to the jury room to determine a verdict based on the evidence provided to the court during the trial.

After close to 3 hours of deliberation, the Jury returned and delivered a unanimous guilty verdict bringing down the curtains on the lengthy trial.

Speaking to reporters following the court proceedings last week Thursday afternoon, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Christopher Nelson, QC, who led the prosecution’s case against De Bourg, expressed satisfaction that this long outstanding matter has finally come to an end.

“It has been a long time in waiting but finally justice has been served. The wheels of justice do turn slowly” but eventually it would come to a stop,” DPP Nelson said.

The South City Plaza building in Grand Anse where CapBank’s  main office was located and where De Bourg operated the 25 stores

The South City Plaza building in Grand Anse where CapBank’s main office was located and where De Bourg operated the 25 stores

“Today it has come to a stop,” he added, pointing out that “the verdict of the jury basically confirms that the management of the Bank by Mr. De Bourg and his conduct as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors left much to be desired. It shows that he in fact has responsibility for the demise of the bank and the fact that many depositors could not recover their deposits,” he added.

DPP Nelson indicated that “recovery of the deposits” is an issue outside of the criminal trial, and one which he cannot address.

Legal sources told this newspaper that the State can seek to recover funds by appointing a Liquidator for Capbank.

According to the DPP, “there is a receivership or a liquidation in place (and that) there might be some hope from that process but from the evidence that was revealed in the criminal proceedings, there isn’t much hope.”

De Bourg, who remained unrepresented throughout his trial, maintained his innocence and obliged to have a social inquiry report and anything else that would assist him at this point.

He faces a maximum amount of seven years on each count and will be sentenced by Justice Gilford in one month’s time at High Court No. 2.