Kenny Anthony and Richard Federick are both political animals. But no two creatures of the same species could be more different, as evidenced by recent budget debates. On the third floor of the Greaham Louisy building on the Castries Waterfront, Frederick juggles three BlackBerrys and the receiver for a landline. He emphatically explains to a legal clerk the difference between an open map and a registered document. “Sweetheart,” he says, “I know what I am talking about. I am in charge of the Land Registry.”
Anthony, on the other hand, is calm and friendly at his legal office on Mongiraud Street, silencing his red BlackBerry—all but once when it buzzed during our interview.
At the peak of the budget debate Frederick came out with guns blazing, accusing Anthony of selling the oil exploration rights to Saint Lucian waters. Since then, Anthony has been gathering evidence, and biding time in the event that he can take legal action against his accuser. If the budget debate was a knife fight before Frederick started his contribution, once he began it became an air war. His point: Who is Kenny Anthony to talk about wastage and bad decision-making after all that he did to get his once invulnerable Saint Lucia Labour Party kicked out of office? Frederick started with the national debt.
“For the last six years, the Ministry of Finance had to borrow to pay our commitments. That has nothing to do with capital expenditure, yet. As the debt grew, it affected our ability to meet our commitments. The national debt grew past one billion dollars in 2001/2. It was then that our recurrent revenue could not take care of our recurrent expenditure.”
But that was the most predictable of the bombs he dropped. “The last Minister of Finance tied down the waters of sweet Saint Lucia for 58 years,” he asserted, showing what he claimed was documentary evidence of an agreement between the Government of Saint Lucia and RSM Production Company.
A few days later, during our interview in his office, Kenny Anthony shook his head at the allegation: “He kept on emphasizing that the agreement shall be renewed, but Frederick did not mention that it shall only be renewed since 2007. The only way you could argue that the exploration rights were sold for 58 years would be if they found oil.”
“The then Minister of Finance signed the agreement in spite of his Attorney General asking him not to,” Frederick reiterated from his ministerial office in a personal interview.
“We did in fact, get an opinion from the Commonwealth Secretariat on this matter,” Anthony insisted. “This is something that Frederick has to know, but this is just one of the things he is not admitting to.” The memo from then Attorney General Petrus Compton urged that, “Saint Lucia would be better served by having a specialist petroleum lawyer review the same [agreement].”
“Grynberg, not satisfied with the area of exploration, wrote to the Minister of Finance asking to enlarge the exploration area,” said Frederick. His evidence: a January 29, 2001 memo from then Permanent Secretary in the foreign affairs ministry Earl Huntley to Jack Grynberg, after the first amendment to the exploration agreement which enlarged the area of exploration signed by Kenny Anthony and the aforementioned Jack J Grynberg.
Petrus Compton started his memo on the exploration agreement saying: “I received the revised agreement on 28 January, 2000 and reviewed the same with reference to the government of Grenada/ RSM Agreement and the original draft prepared for Saint Lucia.
Less than 200 miles away Grenada was spending millions of dollars trying to get out of a similar agreement with Jack Grynberg.
Editor’s note: the preceding first appeared in the STAR Newspaper in 2006.