Astaphan at it again: Singing Out of Tune!


Anthony Astaphan SC:  Is he truly a fighter of windmills?

Anthony Astaphan SC:
Is he truly a fighter of windmills?

I’ve said it before but obviously there is need to repeat myself, if only for the edification of the presumed Dominican deity: On the evidence, in this particularly deprived region we share, few lawyers have had as much success as has Anthony Astaphan SC. There, I’ve said it again!

I’ve also underscored before the fact that, contrary to what so many have been made to believe, Anthony Astaphan’s success does not automatically translate into infallibility. Neither does it mean his word is law—even when the oracular advocate is holding forth on matters of law—as I’ve had reason to point out so many times.

A short sidebar: Undeniably, many court battles are lost only because one side was too poor to afford effective legal representation comparable to that of the other side. And continuing shame on us that in our country legal aid remains a fantasy.

As for evidence put before a judge and jury, often it’s not so much what is presented but how. A stuttering, gap-toothed advocate, too dimwitted to appreciate the do-or-die importance of research, is hardly likely to persuade a judge with arguments without precedent when the lawyer on the other side has come to court armed to his beak.

I suspect the majority of cases for which Astaphan is locally famous were won before his nose entered the courtroom. I am aware of at least one involving incumbent politicians so immeasurably arrogant that they had not only neglected to present evidence of their assertions before the court but also were unbothered by the conspicuous absence of their representatives from the attorney general’s office. That’s what happens when we the people are picking up the tab!

It may also be worth pointing out that few attorneys general in the region had a court record to sing about before they accepted their cushy government appointments. Which explains why throughout the OECS Anthony Astaphan remains in such high demand. As I’ve said before, the shark in the Taiwanese kwibich pond.

If only he knew his limitations. Then again, perhaps he believes in the old Hollywood saw that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” You’d have thought, following his most recent alien involvement in the Timothy Poleon matter, he’d be too busy pulling his foot out of his mouth to take on yet another windmill.

But there he was again on Thursday evening, contaminating the airwaves with still more of his suspect exhalations. No surprise that yet again I was his target. At any rate, something I wrote.

My story concerned the December 12, 2013 ICSID decision on Saint Lucia’s request for provisional measures. The tribunal had held its first session and hearing on provisional matters with representatives of oilman Jack Grynberg and the government of Saint Lucia on October 14, 2013, in New York City, following requests earlier submitted and replied to.

How many VAT-victimized Saint Lucians knew about that? How many parliamentarians? How many media houses? How many members of the prime minister’s Cabinet? Did the Governor General know? How about the House Speaker? The Senate president who knows so much about legal matters? After all, should Mr. Grynberg have his way, we will all be called upon to pay his demanded five hundred million US dollars in damages, not including other related expenses.

How many Saint Lucians know at this time what we are paying defense lawyers in the Grynberg matter?

It’s a safe bet none of the above-mentioned had a clue what has been going on in our name since the prime minister’s boast that he would defend the government most vigorously—as if indeed “the government” knew anything about the issue.

But chances are Anthony Astaphan knew—even though it is doubtful our Justice Minister and the attorney general’s office had the smallest soupçon. Did we hear one related word from the Dominican know-all?

But no sooner had Wednesday’s STAR hit local newsstands than the prime minister’s lawyer for all seasons was offering his free review. I say free, but then I’m just speculating. Lawyers of Astaphan’s caliber have never been particularly famous for doing anything for free.

Typically, the pride of Dominica and marital relative of Antigua’s Bird dynasty was again speaking out of turn on Thursday evening. In an interview with HTS, he admitted he had “not discussed the matter with anyone on the government side including the prime minister.”

However, from his “perusal of the [ICSID] ruling, the adjournment gives the government a chance to return to the tribunal to indicate that they have not been paid and among other options ask for a strike order.” How typical of Astaphan to doublespeak in the context of “perfect storms.” He says the adjournment affords government the opportunity to ask that Grynberg’s case be struck off if Grynberg does not pay as directed by the ICSID.

But what if Grynberg does obey the ICSID order? As if he were some broke lawyer hopefully singing for his supper, Astaphan said “the December 12 ruling is an extremely significant milestone in terms of the tribunal’s findings and consequences of those findings.” What the hell does that mean? What was so significant?

The fact is that Grynberg’s reputation sucks. It has always sucked, as the smallest research will confirm. It also sucked at the time he signed his partnership agreement with the Grenada government. But that never stopped our prime minister going into business with the Colorado oilman.

Indeed, shocking are the lengths he went to seal his deal with Jack Grynberg, a secret that he kept from even the Governor General and his own Cabinet. Whatever Grynberg is now, so he was back in 2000 when the prime minister handed over 83 million acres of Saint Lucia’s seabed to RSM’s control, and then instructed Earl Huntley to keep all the evidence to himself.

In consequence, Jack Grynberg has had full control of the Saint Lucia seabed for close to thirteen years.

Regardless of the ICSID’s opinion of Grynberg, it has no choice but to decide fairly the matter before them. And if I may take a page from Astaphan’s “perfect storm” bible, the government could well be found to have breached the contract it secretly signed in 2000, in the process having possibly made a fool of the governor general.

It is interesting to note that whatever concessions were made in favor of security for the government’s expenses in this matter, they were based on the “multi-millionaire” Grynberg’s ostensibly limited finances and his history of not paying tribunal-imposed costs on time.

I dare to suggest that Astaphan’s own history should also be considered whenever he delivers his uninvited opinions on Grynberg or on any other matter involving Kenny Anthony: For months, Astaphan had insisted via the internet and elsewhere that I was misleading readers of the STAR, that contrary to my information, Grynberg signed the same contracts with St Vincent, Grenada and Saint Lucia. The published facts have proved otherwise, as the Governor General has herself revealed.

Over and over, Astaphan told Saint Lucians the Grynberg contract, such as it was, had expired even before Stephenson King took office. Not true. At any rate, not according to Grynberg’s lawyers.

Not once during the 2011 election campaign did Astaphan tell the nation about the possibility of the action that has started to unfold. There are so many ways to mislead. And one of them is to be mute when there is much you can say.

As for his assertion that my story in Wednesday’s STAR was false, well, wily Astaphan neglected to say which part. He wasn’t asked, and he didn’t tell. But if he was referring to my sub-title, “Kenny Petition Denied,” I can only say that when you claim damages amounting to a million dollars, and the court awards you only five dollars, it’s safe to say your claim was, yes, “denied.”

My trusty dictionary supports me when it thus defines the verb: “To decline to grant or allow; to refuse.” Kenny & company requested a guarantee of costs in the sum of US$750,000. The court declined, refused to grant the request. Case closed.

One other point: Why must Saint Lucians take Anthony Astaphan’s word on matters related to our country, matters that have nothing to do with the garrulous Dominican, a hack campaigner for the Labour Party—when we have our always trustworthy Justice Ministry and our attorney general’s office, whose job it is to keep us apprised on such matters of national interest as Grynberg v The Government of Saint Lucia?

We’ll revisit the issue following Christmas dinner!

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