Grynberg from the White Rabbit’s perspective!

How much did Kenny Anthony know when he entered into the Grynberg agreement?

The SLP’s immediate reaction to last Wednesday’s announcement of the prime minister’s address that evening was as predictable as it was transparent. His predecessor having kept his relationship with Jack Grynberg a secret between himself and Earl Huntley for almost ten years, it follows that he and his campaigning party would have preferred the government to maintain the traitorous conspiracy of silence, and not expose it to public scrutiny. The shameless suggestion was that the nation was interested only in the state of the economy, unemployment and crime—in our economic circumstances all near-unsolvable problems—despite that the prime minister and the rest of the House had addressed these issues ad nauseum during the most recent 3-day budget presentation!
The SLP’s defensive response was not only specious, yet another obvious attempt at cover-up, and a gross insult to the national intelligence, but it also was indicative of palpable disregard for our nation’s sovereignty. Indeed, despite that during the April budget debate three government MPs had sought to uncover what connected Jack Grynberg and Saint Lucia’s seabed, the main link had kept to himself all he knew about this disturbing issue!
Then again, not for nothing is the opposition leader famous for his peculiar sense of reality. How else to explain his judge-jury-executioner announcements, as usual delivered without the smallest hint of embarrassment, that the Ramsahoye Commission represented a waste of money and uncovered no wrongdoing on his part, as if indeed to be declared at the very least a reckless administrator of the people’s business, amounted to a badge of honor. As self-convinced as he is of his own baseless truth, why shouldn’t he also expect the nation to buy, sight unseen, into his delusion?
Is there anyone in all of Saint Lucia who doubts Kenny Anthony—despite indisputable videotaped evidence—remains as convinced today as he was back in 2006 that Sarah Flood-Beaubrun and “the media terrorists” together invented his famous “give-the-people-a break-for-Christmas” appeal to criminals in his constituency? Or that it was the dictator Stephenson King who introduced ID cards and fingerprinting into the election process? According to our best-known full-time opposer of all ideas, including his own, the horrid election law was unconstitutional and fully deserving of widespread chaos and civil disobedience!
I, for one, wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear the opposition leader equating the Grynberg arrangements with the betrayal of Christ and blaming it all on John Compton or Vaughan Lewis. The Kenny-and-Tony schizophrenia that Bingo first hinted at back in ’98 or ’99 is not only alive and well but evidently kickin’ in Wonderland, along with Alice and the White Rabbit.  Ah, but while some people can fool themselves all of the time, it is totally a different proposition when it comes to fooling all of the people all of the time. Which is not to suggest the affliction touched on by the earlier mentioned calypsonian should be dismissed as carnival-time picong—not when it so obviously is synonymous with a characteristic contempt for the people’s right to know, not to mention their ability to think for themselves.
Consider Jack Grynberg’s breach-of-contract suit against the former government of Grenada—from the perspective of Alice’s White Rabbit: “The government decided not to renew or extend an exploration license to Grynberg Petroleum. The company sued, argued the same ground of force majeure which it has raised in Saint Lucia. In fact, Grynberg lost to Grenada. The same principle applies to the interpretation of the agreement with Saint Lucia. So it is disingenuous to say Saint Lucia is disadvantaged by any binding license for an extended period of years. The only issue the government of Saint Lucia had to resolve was whether the license to determine whether oil existed in our waters was extended.”
Reality Check#1: The license in question was granted to RSM Production Corporation, not to Grynberg Petroleum. At any rate, according to the related official documents. (I am here reminded of a motion presented to parliament on 17 December 2002, by which a certain prime minister sought to borrow from the Consolidated Fund $109,470,000, an unspecified portion of which was to be used to meet “government obligations to the hotel formerly known as Hyatt.” Only the prime minister knew he was at the time referring to a then unheard of bankrupt company called Frenwell. Local taxpayers would discover—when it was too late to do anything about it—that they had paid for the company debts totaling $37,380,000 when they were never under any obligation to do so!)
Reality Check #2: The Grenada government never issued an exploration license to RSM Production Corporation. Ergo, there was never a request to “renew or extend.” While the government was “obligated” to grant RSM the license, the stipulated time frame for application was “no more than 90 days” after signing their agreement. The company’s CEO Jack Grynberg had chosen instead to invoke force majeure barely two weeks afterward, effectively placing his contract in suspended animation. He did get around to requesting the license but only after he had plunged his Grenada partners into deep regional trouble with Trinidad and Venezuela, even accusing government officials of taking bribes from a Russian oil outfit to dump RSM. When the government refused to accommodate him, Grynberg sued for breach of contract. His petition was denied, on the basis of his four-years-late license application. Force majeure was hardly a determining factor!
Reality Check#3: The Saint Lucia agreement automatically granted RSM its exploration license. Either Kenny Anthony had no knowledge of the company’s 1996 agreement with the government of Grenada when he handed Grynberg exclusive exploration rights to the Saint Lucia seabed or the then prime minister ignored the fact that soon after inking their agreement Grynberg had declared war on his Grenadian partners. As it turned out, six months after receiving from the prime minister his license to explore the waters of Saint Lucia, Grynberg did to Kenny Anthony precisely what he had done to the Grenada government: he invoked force majeure, on the basis that alleged border disputes stood in his way.
Reality Check #4: As if in acknowledgment of Grynberg’s complaint, Kenny Anthony ratified the enforcement of their contract’s force majeure clause, despite that Saint Lucia’s boundary with Martinique was already demarcated. There was also a so-called gentlemen’s agreement with St Vincent. In any case, the fact that boundaries were not demarcated did not automatically translate into a “dispute.” Following 2006 seismic surveys, Barbados had notified Saint Lucia of its exploratory work by a simple diplomatic note. Jack Grynberg and his lawyers are of the view that until Saint Lucia satisfactorily demarcates its maritime boundaries—an astronomically expensive undertaking in any event!—RSM is legally entitled to retain an exclusive hold on the entire area, eight times the size of our island!
Instead of blowing away Grynberg’s transparent excuses with evidence strongly contradictory of his “border disputes” allegations, Kenny Anthony twice extended their 29 March 2000 agreement, in effect granting RSM for a further three years—to March 2007—an extension of the exploratory period, with force majeure conditions intact! Presumably the prime minister still had not learned of RSM’s force-majeure-based disputes with the then government of Grenada!
Just in case there remain lingering doubts about Grynberg’s arrogance, this is how he later explained his position to an uncooperative representative of the King government: “Force majeure suspends only the obligations of RSM under the agreement . . . We regret your government intends to initiate a competitive bidding and respectfully remind you that under the agreement, article 26, any dispute shall be resolved amicably but if it cannot be resolved the dispute shall be submitted by arbitration to the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes.” Yes indeed, that, too, Kenny Anthony agreed to!
Only last month, Grynberg’s lawyers threatened to sue for “heavy damages” anyone who should interfere with the inherited contractual arrangements between him and the previous prime minister of Saint Lucia.
Meanwhile, there are the conveniently deaf and dumb who suggest Sir John Compton may have endorsed the Grynberg project upon replacing Kenny Anthony.
Reality Check #5: In March 2007, RSM, through its “trusted associate Earl Huntley,” presented to Sir John an amendment for another 3-year extension of the initial exploratory period, with force-majeure conditions attached. Sir John evidently was suspicious. He promised to take the matter up with his Cabinet. By all the evidence, he obviously chose to do otherwise with the RSM-Huntley amendment. In any event, at the time Huntley was still in possession of all documents relating to the Grynberg arrangement and Sir John was hardly likely to undertake a discussion about something he knew absolutely nothing about.
Readers old enough will doubtless recall the uproarious political events of the mid-seventies and what preceded the establishment of Hess Oil in Saint Lucia. For those too young to know, suffice it to say the day’s Labour opposition (it included the party’s current leader) strongly resisted the idea, never mind the promises of full-time employment for scores of Saint Lucians, schools and other associated generosities. One Labour MP actually tore up the proposed agreement from the floor of parliament. Oh, yes he did!
Could Hess then be one of the undeclared reasons Kenny Anthony instructed Earl Huntley to keep the RSM arrangements under wraps, to the extent that some four years after his employment with the government of Saint Lucia had ended Earl Huntley retained possessions of all related documents?
As Alice might’ve said, the Anthony-Huntley relationship with the Colorado oilman grows “curiouser and curiouser!”

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