The May 19, 2007 edition of this newspaper featured on its cover the highly anticipated return of a reportedly terminally ill John Compton from an unidentified New York hospital. Accompanying the Sir John: Will he or Won’t he come Home Today? front page banner, a picture taken on the evening of a so-called “Special Prayer Day” in Derek Walcott Square: agriculture minister Ezechiel Joseph flanked by then acting prime minister Stephenson King and the day’s foreign affairs minister Rufus Bousquet, neck-tied but coatless, left fist raised in the famous manner of Black Power leader Huey P. Newton.
The photograph generated a tsunami of unflattering reader comments directed at the last mentioned, considered the leader of the Judas group pejoratively referred to as the Super 8 for its alleged surreptitious sinking of Sir John’s Beijing boat in favor of diplomatic relations with Taiwan—the ostensible Brutus torpedo that reportedly had triggered off three strokes and forced the frail prime minister to board the first plane to New York. It would be several weeks before truth and fiction would be disentangled—and Rufus Bousquet divorced by the beleaguered government on the deathbed orders of Sir John.
Another reason the cited STAR edition remains a cherished collector’s treasure: On page 2 it featured an item entitled Richard Frederick Cries Victimization! The piece opened with this statement by the then housing minister and reputed influential member of the aforementioned Judas Super 8, delivered during his Friday morning radio show Can I Help You?: “It is unbelievable that a citizen of this country could find himself the subject of such harassment, such vindictiveness, such wickedness.” And Richard Frederick was most certainly no “ordinary citizen.” He had been the star of the 2006 general elections, a successful criminal lawyer and an outspoken critic of Kenny Anthony!
The words quoted in the paragraph immediately above represent Frederick’s sobering reaction to an item put out on the Internet by Offshore Alert, self-described as “specialists in reporting about offshore financial centers, with an emphasis on fraud investigations.” I had read the item out loud during my own DBS-TV show TALK.
According to Offshore Alert: “Saint Lucia has requested information from three Miami-based car dealerships and two exporters for use in a criminal investigation into alleged tax evasion. Targets of the investigation are Richard Frederick, Lucas Frederick and Joseph Auguste, all Saint Lucian nationals. The Instant Treaty [to which Saint Lucia became a signatory in 1996] request has been made by the attorney general’s chambers in connection with a current criminal investigation by the Customs and Excise Department of Saint Lucia, according to the application. The Customs and Excise department is investigating Richard Frederick and others with respect to fraudulent evasion of customs duties related to the importation of motor vehicles. In furtherance of their criminal proceedings, the law enforcement authorities are requesting certified business records from car dealerships and freight companies in Miami, Florida. The amount of tax believed to have been evaded is US$30,000,821.” The Offshore Alert report was dated 30 April 2007 and appeared under the heading: “Recent Requests for Judicial Assistance in the United States.”
It emerged not long after my revelation that the government’s complaint centered on alleged under-invoicing by the “targets of the investigation.” No one, including Frederick, could recall earlier suspects of alleged under-invoicing being subjected to overseas investigations. Normally, such matters were dealt with, one way or another, by customs officials directly or indirectly via our courts. What was so unique about the Frederick case? The nation soon got a hint during the St. Lucia Labour Party’s disastrous 2006 election campaign, with independent candidate (soon to become a United Workers Party convert) Frederick and the day’s attorney general in contention for the Castries Central constituency. Frederick was declared, among other names, a person of interest to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. There were more devastating allegations from the Labour Party’s platforms during the 2011 campaign—blamed by Frederick for the abrupt revocation of his U.S. visas and diplomatic status shortly before election day.
Last week, doubtless only in the best interests of good governance, an especially nationalistic show host sent me via my phone—and countless thousands via the Internet—digital copies of what appears to be a government of Saint Lucia application to the same U.S. agencies that earlier had been invited to look into Frederick’s suspect invoicing. The informed word is that this particular probe was abandoned when, contrary to Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty rules, it became mired in partisan local politics! As attorney general turned election candidate Philip LaCorbiniere put it in an interview that appeared in the STAR of 26 May 2007:
“The United States of America and Saint Lucia would be duty bound to refuse any request which appears to be politically motivated. In the normal course of processing an application, a query would be raised and clarification sought if there were even a hint of political motivation.” It is to be presumed, therefore, that the U.S. authorities were satisfied the applicant for assistance, even though he was set to do battle with Frederick for the Castries Central seat, was not “politically motivated!”
In any case this time around, assistance was sought from the U.S. Department of Justice in investigating two local targets, one of them Guy Joseph, who not so long ago had revealed on TALK that in 2015 the Kenny Anthony administration had inconclusively invested millions to have his phone calls and other activities surreptitiously scrutinized by an overseas group specializing in forensic investigations. According to the information sent to my number by the earlier mentioned pristine show host, the request to the U.S. Department of Justice also involved an American citizen. The local attorney general’s chambers was “seeking assistance in the investigation of money laundering.” Then there is the revelation that “in this matter Saint Lucia has asked the [U.S.] government to keep the request confidential.”
Additionally: “Because Saint Lucia seeks assistance during a criminal investigation [what criminal investigation? When was it launched? Who launched it? Certainly not the DPP’s office under Victoria Charles or Daarsrean Greene!] and has specifically asked the government to keep the request confidential . . .” Then there is this: “Disclosure of the investigation could provide the subject of the investigation with an opportunity to destroy records or other physical evidence in his or her possession and could seriously jeopardize the investigation. It could also give the subject an opportunity to flee, change patterns or notify confederates.”
Seems we’ve been there before. No surprise in this day of Leakileaks that as I write it reaches me that the U.S. authorities may already have expressed their deepest regret that this latest matter, supposedly sealed with all its suspect tentacles, is now fodder for fake news dispensers, obvious and otherwise, discussed mindlessly on Facebook, to say nothing of axe-grinding local talk show hosts and their faithful followers at our more notorious watering holes!
There will be more. In the meantime a small reminder: Richard Frederick came out of the 2005 government’s booby-trapped sewer smelling of Giorgio Armani’s most expensive men’s cologne. A court ordered that his impounded vehicles be returned to him. (Alas, he was not as lucky when it came to his U.S. visas.)
Following, a letter dated 16 October 2009, addressed to Kenneth Monplaisir QC and signed by Peter I. Foster (now QC): “We wish formally to record that your action in executing the consent order was against our explicit advice. A further review of the law should have been undertaken by you in view of the consequences in compromising any of the parties in the matter, and particularly in view of your personal knowledge of the evidence and case compiled by the former comptroller of customs and his team with the assistance of the United States authorities against the claimants. In the interest of our client, Comptroller of Customs Terrence Leonard, and further to our responsibility and duty to the court, we have found it necessary to write this letter.”
While admitting authorship of the letter that freed-up Richard Frederick’s vehicles, Foster, who collaborated as Monplaisir’s junior on Frederick’s case against the attorney general and the comptroller of customs, vehemently denied leaking the correspondence; so did Kenneth Monplasir. As for Frederick, during a radio interview he told Andre Paul: “Had I not been victorious in the last election they probably would have fabricated documents to ensure a penalty is imposed on me for something I know nothing about.” I, for one, cannot help wondering what could’ve given Frederick such an idea!