Earl Huntley’s most recent letter to the Voice, like his earlier publication in 2009, exposes the reason for former prime minister Kenny Anthony’s continuing silence on the matter of Jack Grynberg. He cannot risk tripping over Huntley’s convenient recollections more times than already he has. Huntley, on the other hand, is demonstrably a lot more reckless. As has been underscored in earlier articles in this series, a number of claims made in Huntley’s now famous story about oil deposits in the sea at Dauphin are contradictory, vague, silly (bordering on voodoo), uncorroborated or just self-serving prevarication.
And now, as if laying down more decoys, he seeks to make light of Jack Grynberg’s references to him as “my trusted associate,” at a time when by his own word Huntley’s role was as the volunteer liaison between the government and Grynberg’s company RSM. He also suggests, reminiscent of Walter Francois’ “ti nom” doctorate, that for no special reason Grynberg often referred to him as his “representative” and “friend”—even in his official correspondence with local government ministries.
Huntley even tries to wiggle out of the fact that for almost five years after he quit the public service he had secretly retained important documents relating to the Grynberg arrangement that rightly belonged in the government’s files. He didn’t take them to New York, he now says, he left them at home, wherever that might be.
Then there is this: “Based on what he had seen in Saint Lucia, Grynberg was also interested in signing an exploration agreement with St Vincent and the Grenadines because he believed that if there was oil in Saint Lucian waters, then oil would also be present in St Vincent, Grenada and Dominica. The minister responsible for energy in St Vincent and the Grenadines at the time was John Horn and in discussions with him he said to me that Saint Lucia and St Vincent had nothing to lose agreeing to grant licenses for exploration and so St Vincent also concluded an agreement with Grynberg’s RSM. Grenada was to do the same afterward.”
The calculated impression given here is that we were first to sign on the dotted line, when in fact we were the last. The Grenada agreement was concluded in 1996, St Vincent’s in 1999 and Saint Lucia’s in 2000—four years after Grenada. Huntley’s convoluted sequence of events notwithstanding, how could Grynberg’s interest in St Vincent have been based on what he had not yet seen in Saint Lucia (has not seen even now!) and not on what was evident to him in Grenada?
It’s almost as if Huntley is determined to say as little as possible about the Grenada disaster, which would be understandable, bearing in mind how it had exposed Grynberg’s true colors. Indeed, had Huntley and Kenny Anthony not been so bent on secrecy, they might’ve discovered that just two weeks after the Grenada government engaged Grynberg he invoked force majeure and abandoned all his contractual obligations.
As I say, in much the same way that Earl Huntley had discovered Grynberg is “a very successful oil entrepreneur with substantial petroleum assets in the USA and other parts of the world” (was he privy to Grynberg’s bank account or did the oilman tell him that?), had the former prime minister conducted even the smallest investigation of the oilman’s dealings with the Grenada government he might have learned enough to keep him from committing Saint Lucia to the contract he signed on 28 March 2000, in direct conflict with the requirements of our Minerals (Vesting) Act. Then again, due diligence was never Kenny Anthony’s strongest point, as well Gavin French and the other Rochamel clique know!
Of course, it is possible both Kenny Anthony and Earl Huntley knew and ignored the fact that the Colorado oilman had soon after signing with Grenada caused the government a heap of trouble (some of it involving sister territories).
In all events, what precisely did Grynberg see with his naked eye in Saint Lucia that alerted him to the oil potential of the named sister islands? The black sand at Dauphin? He had not yet spent the US$60 million that in last weekend’s Voice Huntley claimed Grynberg invested in seismic explorations of Saint Lucia’s waters. Actually, there is absolutely no evidence of such exploration, let alone the cost. I am reliably informed that the related documents to which Huntley referred were borrowed from the Barbados authorities.
Pointless going over the rest of Huntley’s piece in last Saturday’s Voice, save to remind readers of how easy it is to pull a tiger’s teeth in the animal’s absence. The prime minister has already made it quite clear he and his ministers were unable to find any Grynberg-related documents in the government’s files—and John Compton is in no position to validate the outré claims of Earl Huntley. Hardly surprising, he neglected to mention among his Voice revelations how he came by details of secret Cabinet discussions centered on Grynberg but there is the subtle suggestion his unidentified source may have been Ausbert d’Auvergne, about whose character the Labour Party has already said more than enough—certainly enough to cause the gentleman to issue threats of libel and slander at one point.
I, for one, am having a difficult time believing anything Earl Huntley writes or speaks. And not without good cause. Remember the multi-million-dollar Helenites Building transaction? At its center was New York real estate owned by the government of Saint Lucia. For reasons of his own, Earl Huntley (then UN ambassador) had transferred ownership of the property to a fellow Saint Lucian based in New York, for the ostensible purpose of acquiring urgently needed funds from a New York loan shark—without one word to the government of Saint Lucia, then headed by Kenny Anthony.
The curious transaction involved Huntley’s putting together fake documentation that introduced his friend to a loan shark as the actual owner of the property. Having received the money he claimed was needed to effect urgent repairs to the property, Huntley proceeded to put a large portion of it to other use, at least one of them carnival related. He then deposited what was left in the Saint Lucia Mission’s account in New York, without any explanation to its officials. Meanwhile, the Helenites property continued to deterioiate.
In the midst of a public outcry in Saint Lucia generated by leaked information from sources in New York, Kenny Anthony initiated with much fanfare a quite unnecessary inquiry by the former jurist Albert Matthew. The prime minister, Huntley’s boss, might’ve easily saved taxpayers thousands of dollars by simply recalling his UN ambassador and demanding of him some straight answers to direct questions. Instead, the prime minister’s office furnished the ex-judge with the list of names to be interrogated.
By Matthew’s account he found clear evidence of “impropriety” and “misfeasance,” which he defined in turn as “improper conduct” and “the wrongful exercise of authority.” In regular parlance, egregious abuse of office!
Reacting to Huntley’s stubborn insistence that as ambassador he had plenipotentiary powers and acted accordingly, this is what Matthew wrote in his report: “I am of the view that the ambassador was misguided. The ambassador is an agent of his government and as such he must act in accordance with instructions on all matters pertaining to the disposal of the property of government.”
Moreover: “There can be no plausible reason why the ambassador should cause a loan to be made without the authority of the government of Saint Lucia . . . If an ambassador has the powers as claimed, then he would have the authority to sell Saint Lucia without reporting to anyone!”
Or, come to that, the Saint Lucia seabed!
Finally, Matthew placed “full blame for the transfer of title to the New York center and the facilitation of the mortgage squarely on the shoulders of the ambassador.” The former judge held that Huntley “acted without authority in several aspects.”
As for his view that when the project was further developed he would inform the authorities in Saint Lucia, Matthew wrote: “The ambassador got it wrong. It was the other way around.”
The New York property was eventually restored to government ownership but only after lenghty legal issues had been settled at great cost to the Saint Lucian taxpayer. Of course, even now Huntley continues to say he did nothing wrong when he was Saint Lucia’s ambassador, much like someone else I need not identify, despite the contrary finding of a commission of inquiry!
Matthew’s report was still a major topic when the Saint Lucia Labour Party handed Huntley an opportunity to get himself elected to office despite the Helenites episode. Alas, the people of Gros Islet said enough was enough and refused to go along.
So, should Earl Huntley now be believed when he makes unsubstantiated claims about the deceased and about monies wired by Grynberg to his personal account? It seems to me that if in fact the money was to pay bills related to oil exploration in Saint Lucia it should’ve been wired to an appropriate government agency. But then there was always the matter of secrecy to be maintained.
As Huntley put it in his 26 February ’04 letter to Grynberg: To save time “I would suggest that in order to effect payment and maintain the confidentiality of the operation it would be best if you wired the amount to me and I would pay the boat owners.” Presumably the money Grynberg wired to Huntley in May ‘04 was for something else, doubtless also confidential!
Which reminds me: Huntley pooh-poohs Grynberg’s references to him as “my trusted associate,” “my representative” and “my friend” by hinting it was all sweet talk and altogether innocent. Bear in mind, dear reader, this was in 2007 when Huntley was no longer in the service of the government of Saint Lucia. And yet, by his own account he continued in his unpaid “liaison role” between Grynberg and the King government, even as this government was seeking ways to extricate itself from Grynberg’s grasp.
Regardless of his convenient definitions, it should also be remembered that Huntley was the initiator of the whole oil shebang. He was also responsible for bringing Grynberg into the picture, therefore unlikely to say anything negative about him without spitting in his own face.
Candidly, the whole matter of whether Stephenson King inadvertently endorsed, then withdrew from, a Grynberg-related arrangement is relatively insignificant, much more than can legitimately be said about Kenny Anthony’s signature on more than one Grynberg document. What matters in the last analysis is that correspondence between the government and Grynberg makes it quite clear King & Company never intended continuing the relationship with Jack Grynberg that Kenny Anthony and Huntley started back in 2000.
Eleven years later nothing whatsoever has occurred that might’ve given King reason to renew it. Huntley himself had finally come round to advising the government to break the contract if Grynberg did not begin his explorations in 2008. (Obviously he had forgotten about the force majeure clause that Grynberg invoked just six months after signing with Kenny Anthony and which, by all Grynberg’s lawyers have stated, keeps their contract in suspended animation, ready to come alive again the minute there are no longer any questions about our marine borders. Then again, perhaps Huntley did not forget!)
I wish Huntley had not brought his doubtless outstanding parents into this oily Grynberg mess. I am more than willing to take his word that they taught him all they knew about how to be an honest and upright citizen. From all Huntley says about his mom and dad I can safely assume they would not have endorsed some of his decisions as a public servant. As for Huntley’s own sense of right and wrong, suffice it to say that on this subject the Helenites controversy has already spoken volumes!
The preceding first appeared in STAR August 17, 2011
NEXT WEEK: HAVE WE HEARD THE LAST OF GRYNBERG?