Who would’ve thought what started out as a messy deposit on Earl Huntley’s foot as he bathed in the sea at Dauphin would some 20 years later engage the attention of the government of Saint Lucia, generate a breach of contract lawsuit, and legal fees that to date amount to over $2 million? While Saint Lucians are divided along political lines on whether to dismiss Grynberg as “a dead issue,” others are insisting on a proper resolution.
At last Tuesday’s meeting of Parliament, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet issued a statement that underscored how little is known about the arrangement between former prime minister Kenny Anthony and American oil billionaire Jack Grynberg nearly seventeen years ago. By the PM’s account, the matter was never brought before the House. Even more shocking was the revelation that Dr. Anthony may have instructed the former public servant Earl Huntley to keep all documents related to Grynberg. Mr. Chastanet said that for close to ten years only three people knew some 83 million acres of our seabed had been leased to Grynberg’s company, RSM Corporation.
The prime minister also cited sections of the Minerals (Vesting) Act, at Section 3, which places “all minerals being in, on or under any land” under the control of the crown. Also Section 4, which prohibits the mining of “minerals except by authority of a license granted by the Governor General.”
Mr. Chastanet referenced the Constitution of Saint Lucia, at Section 65: “The Prime Minister shall keep the Governor General fully informed concerning the general conduct of the government of Saint Lucia.”
Why has former opposition leader Dr. Kenny Anthony never addressed the Grynberg issue after all these years? That is the question confronting Saint Lucians at home and abroad since the prime minister’s statement before the House, at any rate judging by the exchanges here and via the internet. There seems to be much conjecture as to the validity of the contract, bearing in mind the claim that only the governor general is authorized to grant exploration licenses. The prime minister cited last week a letter from Dame Pearlette Louisy confirming she knows absolutely about the Grynberg contract: “On this matter I can only say that I have no personal or first-hand knowledge of any contract, arrangements or agreement made by anyone or entity in or outside Government with Mr. Jack Grynberg and his Corporation.”
The prime minister’s statement ended on this note: “Whatever the result of Mr. Grynberg’s appeal, whatever the result of his breach of contract suit, Saint Lucians have the right to know how we found ourselves in this very expensive and embarrassing situation. Several important questions, legal and ethical, remain unanswered; several decisions unaccounted for.”
The general expectation now is that perhaps Dr. Kenny Anthony, who was absent from last Tuesday’s House session, will come forward to provide answers to the many questions hanging over the Grynberg matter. While the public holds its breath, one member of the opposition last Saturday stated in a STAR interview why his party has been silent all these years. The MP for Castries South, Ernest Hilaire said: “I think part of it is we’re probably waiting for more discussion on it, in a sense, to be able to speak authoritatively. So much has been said from certain circles and sectors.”
He also sought to dispel the notion that Saint Lucia’s seabed remains tied up in litigation: “Grynberg lost the cause, so right now there is no agreement in place. As far as I’m told, right now if we were to conduct explorations, there is no one who would make objections.”
Did Mr. Hilaire receive this latest information from this former party leader? If so, will he repeat himself come the next sitting of the House? The nation waits in anticipation!
While it is difficult to tell when Dr. Anthony will come forward with his statement, the STAR reached out to leader of the opposition Phillip J Pierre earlier in the week. However, we were informed that the minister would have no comment at press time and would likely not provide one within the next few weeks.
Readers may refer to detailed reporting on ‘Grynberg’ and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s parliament speech in the STAR of December 9.