St Lucia PM renews appeal for information on controversial Oil Exploration Agreement

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OilNOW
OilNOW
OilNOW is an online-based Information and Resource Centre

(CARIBBEAN NEWS NOW) Some four years after then leader of the opposition in Saint Lucia, Stephenson King, wrote to the governor general, Dame Pearlette Louisy, seeking clarification regarding an oil exploration licence purportedly granted to Colorado oilman Jack Grynberg by the Dr. Kenny Anthony administration in 2000, current prime minister Allen Chastanet told parliament that the country is still “in the dark” on the matter.

“We have found no official record of the Grynberg transaction, neither in the files of Cabinet nor in Hansard,” he said, calling on anyone with information to come forward and put the matter to rest.

At the heart of the matter is the question whether Louisy had issued such licence, as she alone as governor general is legally authorised by the Minerals (Vesting) Act to do, or whether a licence was issued by someone else ultra vires the constitution of Saint Lucia.

Grynberg is currently in the process of suing the government of Saint Lucia for “breach of contract,” based on the licence he claims was issued to him and which affords him sole rights to explore for oil under the Saint Lucia seabed.

Grynberg has claimed damages in the sum of US$500 million.

“All attempts going back to 2006 at soliciting clarification in the best interests of the nation from the present government about this matter currently before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) have been rebuffed,” King said in 2013.

“In their unceasing efforts to get to the bottom of the largely secret transaction between the Kenny Anthony-led government and Mr. Jack Grynberg, opposition parliamentarians have encountered road block after road block,” he added.

At about the same time, a complaint was filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the United States under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in relation to the contract purporting to grant oil exploration rights over some eight million acres of Saint Lucia’s maritime territory.

The 46-page complaint, which Caribbean News Now has seen, named Anthony and RSM Production Company (RSM), a Texas company, along with its president, Grynberg.

Specifically, the complaint noted that, in or about February 2000, Anthony, as then minister of finance, planning and sustainable development, signed a contract with RSM that purported to grant the company an “Exploration License” in respect of territorial maritime resources belonging to Saint Lucia amounting to 8,726,263 acres.

However, under Saint Lucia’s Minerals Vesting Act, all minerals in, on or under any land in Saint Lucia are vested in and controlled by the Crown and only the governor general may grant a licence to prospect for and/or mine such minerals.

Further, although the contract provided that RSM shall pay a royalty to “the Government” (as required by section 5 of the Minerals Vesting Act), it went on to state that the liability of RSM in this respect shall be discharged by paying such royalty to the minister and not the government.

The complaint stated that these facts, among others, establish probable cause that a crime has been committed to warrant investigation and possible prosecution under the FCPA:

  1. The contract was signed by Anthony purportedly as a Saint Lucia government minister but who was not in fact legally authorised or empowered to do so;
  2. The contract was approved neither by parliament nor the governor general of Saint Lucia;
  3. Royalty payments under the contract are to be made directly to a public official, not the Saint Lucia government itself;

The complaint in question is an allegation of possible unlawful conduct. The allegations must still be investigated, prosecuted and proven in US federal court.

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