Oil stains or something messier?

The sea at Dauphin (in set) and former ambassador Earl Huntley.

I begin this time around with a reminder: We are entitled to our opinions but we are not entitled to our own facts. For instance (yes, inevitably, here we go again!), Kenny Anthony is entitled to his doubtless comforting opinion that while in office he never set a foot wrong.
He may even choose to believe (as he claimed from the steps of the Castries market) that since he had once won a court battle with Sir Fenton Ramsahoye representing the losing side, the widely respected jurist was consequently not fit to pass judgment on his actions.
Yes, Kenny Anthony can, if he wishes, take solace in such arrant foolishness. However, it is altogether a different matter when he publicly asserts, as if the facticity of his statement were universally acknowledged, that the Rochamel commission of inquiry had “exonerated” him; not when this word is understood by all save the determinably ignorant to mean “freed from blame.” The fact, I daresay the indisputable fact, is that a three-member panel (one of whom had with distinction participated in the infamous UN Scandal inquiry) had found ample reason to describe the former prime minister’s performance in relation to Rochamel as “maladministration.”
Consider this from the Ramsahoye Report of 8 May 2009: “There were irregularities in public administration resulting in loss to the government and people of Saint Lucia. Public servants who should have been involved in the transaction at the level of heads of departments were not, and we consider that if they were there would have been measures undertaken to ensure that the government did not undertake any liability beyond what was agreed in the agreement of 17 December 1997 . . . and might have ensured the benefit of equity in the hotel investment for the people of Saint Lucia in the event the government was made to pay. The documents presented to the commission fell far short of what was necessary to protect the government and people.” [My italics]
The clincher: “We consider that the loss which the government and the people of Saint Lucia suffered in this matter was the result of maladministration . . .”
Oh, but in the former prime minister’s opinion “there was no wrong-doing.” And anyway, he says, “Saint Lucia now has a hotel that employs over 300 Saint Lucians.” As if indeed the end justified the means, regardless that the nation’s premier lawmaker may in the process of achieving it have rendered himself its premier lawbreaker!
To those who would have me join the ovine herd and desist from reminding the nation of the former prime minister’s “maladministra-tion,” and to others who say, ‘Well, true he made a mistake, as we all have at one time or another, but given another chance as prime minister he would not repeat them,’ I advise you please to revisit the commission’s quoted finding above—specifically to the line about public servants who were deliberately kept in the dark about Rochamel-Frenwell.
Now place the above facts alongside what we now know about Grynberg. No less a reliable source than Earl Huntley has stated the reason he kept to himself—for close to ten years!—all documents relating to the Jack Grynberg’s RSM, even when Huntley was no longer a public servant: he was acting under the strict orders of then prime minister Kenny Anthony.
As in the Rochamel matter, neither his Cabinet colleagues nor personnel from the ministries of Planning and Foreign Affairs were informed about Grynberg.
Huntley even insisted on using his private bank account when it came to Grynberg paying local workers supposedly engaged in the exploration that never happened. By Huntley’s own shocking admission, the secrecy had to be maintained at all cost.
What does the former prime minister say about that? Well, not a great deal. It seems Huntley has replaced Tony Astaphan as his spokesman, whether or not with his oil-divining foot in his mouth. It should also be noted that nearly all we’ve heard from Huntley on Grynberg has been unsubstantiated self-serving opinion or inventive snippets of alleged conversations with dead people.
On the other hand, what I state here can immediately be verified: Earl Huntley is in this messy matter hardly a disinterested public servant doing what his superiors expect. He had given birth to the so-called Dauphin project. It is his baby. He conceived it on his own private time and brought in the day’s prime minister only following covert meetings with Jack Grynberg, and then only when an exploration license was required. And we know by now that this special permit was granted in record time in a fashion totally at odds with the Minerals (Vesting) Act.
Four years later, with absolutely nothing to warrant his enthusiasm, Huntley writes to “Jack” (by now they are buddies on a first-name basis) saying “please be reassured that we are not blaming you for the pace so far. We do understand and appreciate why this has been, and will be, a lengthy process and I further wish to stress we are highly impressed by your total commitment and faith in the project . . .”
Highly impressed indeed! Presumably he is not here using the pluralis majestis, that by “we” he refers to the other party to the secret arrangement. Both are highly “pleased and reassured” despite that just six months after signing their agreement Jack Gryberg had put everything on ice by invoking the force majeure clause that effectively placed his contractual obligations in suspended animation—at any rate, from his own perspective and that of his lawyers.          There is no related complaint from Jack’s “trusted representative, trusted associate and friend.” Au contraire, he is by his own account pleased with the pace of work, albeit indiscernible.
Fast forward to November 2007. Huntley is no longer a public servant. His party has lost the 2006 general elections and he is reeling as much from that as from the fallout from the Helenites fiasco. He generously proffers unsolicited advice to the King government, even as allegedly he is negotiating on Jack’s behalf an extension of the contract he signed with Kenny Anthony in 2000.
He writes for the government’s benefit (and doubtless for love of country!): “In May, I spoke with Mr. [Ausbert] d’Auvergne and he told me officials at his ministry were still examining the document. I have been unable to speak
to him about it again despite several attempts to meet with him. [Doubtless he was busy fending off the fallout from Kenny Anthony’s rowdy public demonstrations at his expense!] In the meantime, Grynberg Petroleum . . . has submitted another copy of the Saint Lucia agreement for Prime Minister King’s signature, along with a check for the license. Grynberg is expecting to commence exploration in 2008.                 However, I believe the renewal of the license should be conditional on clear understandings by Grynberg that exploration and drilling
in Saint Lucia should start in 2008, regardless of his problems with Grenada . . . There should be an agreement with him that failure to begin exploration and drilling within the first half of 2008 will trigger the termination of the agreement with Saint Lucia.”
If at this point you are further confused, dear reader, take comfort in the fact that I too am equally kerfuffled. By all we’ve heard from Huntley and the Kenny Anthony amen corner (though the oilman and his legal team disagree with their view), the Grynberg agreement expired in 2007. Yet Huntley is at the end of 2007 writing about Jack expecting to commence exploration and advising the King government, in advance of any agreed extension, real or imagined, that the prime minister should inform Grynberg that “failure to begin exploration and drilling within the first half of 2008 will trigger termination of the agreement.”
Is Earl Huntley believable when he addresses the controversy that the once secret Grynberg issue has become? I remind you, dear reader, he initiated the whole deal; it is his pet, potentially out-of-this-world lucrative project. He is, at the very least, Jack Grynberg’s trusted representative and friend.
Jack wins, his trusted representative also wins. Then there’s the not to be underestimated political connection. To quote Huntley in his Dear Jack letter of 23 September 2004: “While it is natural for us to be anxious for things to move faster, given the enormous implications for the country if our theories prove right and the pressures for positive results arising from local political developments,
please be assured we are not blaming you for the pace so far.”
Yes, so bearing in mind his public service record and political affiliation, should Huntley in the season of elections be taken at his word, without supportive evidence? I think not.
For his part, the prime minister has cited correspondence between his government and the Colorado oilman that clearly indicates he never intended to extend the Grynberg contract. The prime minister has also invited Grynberg’s promoters, associates, partners and representatives to prove otherwise. Either they show slate or bow out.
But let us say that instead of speaking out the prime minister had chosen to do as Kenny Anthony is currently doing, that is to say, hide behind a wall of silence,
what might the rest of us have done? I daresay, with no other choice, we would’ve been speculating without facts.
So, now, let’s do just that.
Let us consider the
irreducible truth that Earl Huntley has so far not been able to prove he ever received from the PM’s assistant secretary a sealed envelope containing a signed extension of the Grynberg agreement. Even if he is able to prove he did, would it automatically follow that
the sealed envelope contained a signed extension of the 2000 Grynberg agreement?
As Huntley himself has asserted, at the insistence of the PM’s assistant secretary he returned the sealed envelope to her.  Does the lady recall any of this? And if she does, can she say without fear of contradiction that the sealed envelope actually contained what sight unseen Huntley says it contained?
Aha, you say, there is another witness. In which case I hereby caution you to be careful. Witness is defined as “one who can give a first-hand account of something seen, heard or experienced.” Besides, to paraphrase Shakespeare, there are witnesses and then there are witnesses. Before they even open their mouths to
speak, their credentials
must invite credibility. All I’ve so far heard on the matter of the Grynberg extension, save for the official account, has fallen out of hardly disinterested politically prejudiced mouths with no supportive evidence.
Those who would now depend, without hard evidence, on the word of ostensible witnesses must first establish their credibility. Pointless expecting others to accept what they say as dependable after you have yourself spent years painting them as egregious liars, betrayers of the public trust, abusers of their office and unconscionable con men whose word is as worthless as a two-dollar bill. First you must, as they say, rehabilitate such witnesses. Either what you said about them in earlier times, and from platforms island-wide, was true or it was not.
As I say, we are entitled to our opinions, regardless of how uninformed or obviously self-serving. But we are not entitled to our facts. Indeed, for the purposes of his book on the life of the deceased movie icon Marilyn Monroe—whom he never met—Norman Mailer invented a word that
might prove useful to those who insist on offering their own unsupported facts as the truth and nothing but the truth.
That word is “factoids!”

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