Tag Archives: Corruption

Report of Conflict of Interest: Saint Vincent PM Ralph Gonsalves said to own 2 LIAT aircraft

UPDATED January 23, 2014: NICE Radio apologizes to PM Gonsalves for inaccurately repeating BFP story!

Hey folks, NICE Radio has apologized to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves for claiming that the PM owns two LIAT aircraft, and blames BFP.

Well guess what: NICE Radio must have inaccurately reported our article and left out the part where we say…

“That is if Skyhigh is correct, and he is anonymous so take that with lots of salt. BFP is only an anonymous blog ya know!

But now that Skyhigh identified the exact aircraft, we think that PM Gonsalves should clear the air…

Well, Prime Minister Gonsalves… do you or any of your family have anything to do with leasing aircraft to LIAT?

Yes, or no?”

Interesting though: St. Vincent has no integrity legislation and we don’t see the PM himself making a statement denying that he or his family own any interest in the aircraft leased to LIAT. Hey… maybe it’s the Mongoose Gang that’s behind all this?

Original story published January 17, 2014…

DHC-8-300 Dash 8 LIAT V2-LGI V2-LGI (click photo for large)

“The Prime Minister of St.Vincent thinks he is Chavez but he has a long way to go… however we all know he is just protecting his investment because he owns airplanes that he leases to LIAT. (V2-LGI AND V2-GG)
So In fact if LIAT shuts down he will loose considerably…”

BFP reader Skyhigh on The not so secret LIAT Airlines incident

American Airlines pilot and Barbados Free Press reader Skyhigh says that the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, owns two of the aircraft leased to LIAT airlines.

The deHavilland / Bombardier Dash 8 300 Series airliners carry registrations V2-LGI and V2-GG.

The conflict of interest arises because SVG is one of the major shareholders in LIAT. Government funds are involved and Prime Minister Gonsalves is heavily involved in decision making about the airline.   Continue reading

40 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Corruption, Politics & Corruption

Afra Raymond on Invader’s Bay: “A large-scale act of intentional illegality…”

“If that is the advice the State is relying upon in advancing their Invader’s Bay proposals, we are seeing a large-scale act of intentional illegality and a worrying return to the ‘bad-old-days‘.”

by Afra Raymond

by Afra Raymond

Since my previous article on this controversial proposal, we have seen that certain legal advice reportedly considered by the government has been featured in another newspaper, The Guardian.  If that is the advice the State is relying upon in advancing their Invader’s Bay proposals, we are seeing a large-scale act of intentional illegality and a worrying return to the ‘bad-old-days‘.

My main concerns are -

CONSULTATION?

Compare the lack of consultation at Invader’s Bay with what happens elsewhere.  In particular, the large waterfront lands near the city centre of San Fernando at  King’s Wharf, which has been the subject of ongoing public consultations over the years.  The press reports that various design and redevelopment concepts were presented to and discussed with a widely-based audience.

Whatever the criticisms one might make of the King’s Wharf proposals, it is undeniable that views have been sought from the public/stakeholders and various proposals have been made for consideration.

The JCC and its Kindred Associations in Civil Society met with Ministers Tewarie and Cadiz on 26 September 2011 to express our serious concerns.  Yet, when Minister Tewarie was challenged by the JCC and others as to the complete failure to consult with the public, the only example of consultation he could cite was the very meeting we had insisted on, which took place after publication of the Ministry’s Request for Proposals (RFP) and just about one week before the closing-date for proposals.

This Minister obviously does not consider public consultation to be a serious element in real development, notwithstanding the lyrics about innovation, planning and, of course, Sustainability and the Cultural Sector.  Just consider the way in which East Port-of-Spain is being discussed within that same Ministry.  The prospects for sustainable economic development of East POS must be linked with the Invader’s Bay lands, there is no doubt about that.  What is more, to carry-on as though the two parts of the capital can enjoy prosperity in isolation from each other is to trade in dangerous nonsense.

When criticising the large-scale physical development plans of the last administration, ‘dangerous nonsense’ is exactly what I had accused them of dealing in. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Consumer Issues, Corruption, Politics & Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

‘Political Terrorism’ is not too strong a phrase…

Flag-Trinidad-and-Tobago

Is this debates commission playing power politics with our elections?

by Phillip Edward Alexander

How could the debates commission in all good conscience include the ILP ‘one man party’ and the MSJ ‘not yet a party’ in the electoral debates and exclude the COP which has seats and corporations under its control?

See why I continue to say that the Chamber of Commerce could NEVER be trusted to handle the debates fairly and without attempting to control outcomes through underhanded moves?

This is an outrage of epic proportions. I am incensed and every Trinidadian should be as well.

And I am no supporter of the COP or its leader; but right is right and if you can include David Abdulah’s imitation ‘wanna be party’ you are morally obligated to include this country’s third largest political party or the entire debate would be a sham.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COP Demands Equal Access to Local Government Debates
Calls on Debate Commission to Reverse Outrageous Decision Restricting Access to Key Public Dialogue
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Politics & Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad: Invader’s Bay payday?

invaders bay Trinidad (click image for large)

“Ministers of the Government and others employed in the various Ministries must begin to appreciate that laws are there to be followed both by the Government and by members of the public alike.”

Expediency must never be allowed to take priority over principle.

by Afra Raymond

by Afra Raymond

Invader’s Bay has re-emerged from the shadows via PNM Senator Faris Al-Rawi’s budget contribution (PDF) on Monday 23 September 2013 (pp. 168-175).  The twists and turns in this controversial proposed scheme are detailed at the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry – JCC’s webpage here.

Invader’s Bay is a 70-acre parcel of reclaimed State land off the Audrey Jeffers Highway – just south of PriceSmart & MovieTowne – in the western part of Port-of-Spain.  Its value was estimated by the State in 2011 to be in excess of $1.2Bn, so these are prime development lands, possessing these attributes -

  • Water, Electricity and all urban services are readily available;
  • Flat/gently-sloping terrain;
  • Direct access to Audrey Jeffers Highway;
  • Waterfront location.

Before proceeding to the latest revelations, it is important to restate the main objections raised by the JCC and others with respect to this proposed development -

  • The Request for Proposals (RFP) was published by the Ministry of Planning in August 2011 seeking Design-Build proposals for the development of these lands and specifying an entirely inadequate 6 weeks for submissions;
  • There has been no public consultation at all, so the public has not been involved in this, the largest proposed development in our capital in living memory;
  • The RFP was silent as to the other three, extant strategic plans for the POS area, all paid for with Public Money.  Given that the RFP was published by the Ministry of Planning, that is a tragic irony, to say the least;
  • EIA – The RFP is silent as to the requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment in a development of this scale;
  • The proposals were to be evaluated against the “Invader’s Bay Development Matrix and Criteria Description”, which was only published after the closing-date for submissions.  That is a clear breach of proper tender procedure, which renders the entire process voidable and therefore illegal.

The key points Al-Rawi was advancing seemed to be based on certain leaked Cabinet papers, but not having seen them, there is little detailed comment I can give.

Al-Rawi stated that the Government has agreed to lease parts of the property to two developers – DACHIN Ltd (Derek Chin, the MovieTowne man) and Invaders Bay Mariner Development Company (Jerry Joseph).  He also claimed that those leases are to be granted at the land value quoted by the developer/s’ valuer -$74psf – which is a small fraction of the valuations obtained from the Commissioner of Valuations – $511psf – and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the independent consultant retained by the State – $436psf.

According to Al-Rawi -

…The developers are saying, “Hold on, you need to look at this from a residual valuation approach”, and on a residual valuation approach they are saying, “Remember we have to do infrastructural work, we are only going to get a residue of this land coming into our hands, therefore, we want a residual value approach…   Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Consumer Issues, Corruption, Politics & Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

Allard Prize for International Integrity – Live broadcast to Barbados and the world

UPDATED: Anna Hazare wins $100,000 Allard Prize for International Integrity

The University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Law at Allard Hall presented Anna Hazare, one of India’s most influential social activists, with the inaugural Allard Prize for International Integrity at a special ceremony last night.

The $100,000 prize is one of the world’s largest awards recognizing efforts to combat corruption and to promote human rights.

“My lifelong mission to fight corruption and promote transparency is stronger for having received this award,” said Mr. Hazare. “I have never been attracted to money and wealth, but the Allard Prize will help me and all those that are working towards the same cause to continue the fight. I am hopeful that this international recognition will promote a movement for change that will endure beyond my lifetime for generations to come.”

more about Anna Hazare and the Allard Prize.

Original Story published September 25, 2013…

Allard Prize Barbados

Who will win the inaugural prize?

The Allard Prize for International Integrity is awarded to an individual, movement or organization that has demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in combating corruption, especially through promoting transparency, accountability and the rule of law.

Established by UBC Law alumnus Mr. Peter A. Allard, QC, the $100,000 Allard Prize is one of the largest awards in the world recognizing efforts to combat corruption and promote human rights.

“Our outstanding finalists exemplify the values of the Allard Prize through their extraordinary courage and leadership in promoting transparency, accountability and the rule of law in opposing corruption and promoting and protecting human rights,”

“In celebrating these achievements and remarkable stories, the Allard Prize strives to inspire others to take up the fight against abuses of power and the suppression of human rights, wherever they arise.”

Peter Allard (Allardprize.org)

allard prize finalists

The 2013 Allard Prize finalists are:

Global Witness – Based in London, U.K. and Washington, D.C., Global Witness has initiated trailblazing campaigns against natural resource-related conflict and corruption and associated environmental and human rights abuses.

Anna Hazare – One of India’s most influential and renowned social and political activists, Mr. Hazare has led popular movements to enhance government transparency and investigate and prosecute official corruption.

Dr. Sima Samar – Dr. Samar is an internationally celebrated advocate for human and women’s rights. Dr. Samar has worked to raise global awareness about the detrimental impact of corruption on the promotion and protection of Afghan human and women’s rights.

The winner of the Allard Prize will be announced on September 25, 2013 at a ceremony at the UBC Faculty of Law at Allard Hall in Vancouver, British Columbia.  The other two finalists will each be given Honourable Mention recognition and a $25,000 cash prize. These three finalists were selected from a short list of six nominees, which also included: Peter Eigen, John Githongo and Chen Guangcheng.

“UBC Law has a deep and longstanding history of advancing human rights,” says Dean Mary Anne Bobinski. “Faculty members have been pioneers supporting the human rights of women, indigenous communities and the rights of victims of crime around the world.”

“Government Corruption Is Death To Philanthropy And Foreign Investment”

The sad tale of Peter Allard and Barbados… Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Ethics, Human Rights, Politics & Corruption

A distastrous combination: Weak controls over public money, and a culture of allowing white collar crime

“Please note that the entire project cost about $1.6Bn, yet about $1.0Bn was stolen and hidden in offshore accounts. That is the true extent of the corruption we are fighting against and that is why I have called it a tidal wave of corruption.”

… Afra Raymond on the Piarco Airport scandal

“If you are serious about making a difference, you have to develop the fortitude to turn away from matters which are merely true and interesting, so that you can focus your time and energies on what is really decisive…”

by Afra Raymond

That is my attempt to paraphrase the late Lloyd Best, as he spoke emotionally to a meeting in about 2004 at the Centre of Excellence. If we are serious, we need to ignore the pathetic distractions and keep our eyes on the ball.

Following on from my previous column on S.34, there are two main issues emerging at this time…

Firstly, the entire Plot to Pervert Parliament was an outcome of the Piarco Airport scandal, said by the DPP to involve some $1.0Bn of stolen Public Money.  Please note that the entire project cost about $1.6Bn, yet about $1.0Bn was stolen and hidden in offshore accounts.  That is the true extent of the corruption we are fighting against and that is why I have called it a tidal wave of corruption.  A well-planned assault on our Treasury by leading elements of international organised crime.

This is to refute those deceivers who try to soften us up for the poison by saying that ‘is only a lil 10% and it does happen everywhere’.  The truth has a power of its own.  The JCC played a leading role in calling for and submitting evidence to the Bernard Commission which exposed abuse of power and corrupt practices in some of the highest offices in our country.  The Piarco Accused needed to escape trial because of the effective work done by the Bernard Commission in exposing criminal abuses of Public Money.  There are also strong elements of political party financing at work here, much like in the CL Financial bailout fiasco.

The lack of an effective Public Procurement system is what allowed the Piarco Airport scandal.”

Secondly, public trust in this administration seems to be at an all-time low after the Plot to Pervert Parliament was exposed.  To a lesser extent, that loss of trust could also be affecting the Opposition PNM.
The offending S.34 has now been repealed, yet the public clamour continues.  So what is to be done?

The campaign of wild distractions

Having had to endure an insulting and incomplete attempted explanation from our PM, we are now being subjected to a sustained campaign of distractions.

There seems to be a scramble from both sides to shower each other with allegations of large-scale corruption.  No need to list the examples, there is plenty of mud to go around.  While there are serious questions on the THA/BOLT project as well as the Calcutta Settlement lands, I will not be writing on those yet.

This crisis is an important opportunity to decide if we want to do differently.  Do we?  If not, crapaud smoke we pipe.  If we really want to do differently, we have to start thinking differently and stop the point-scoring games.

This series of crises which have beset us are all related to weak controls over Public Money and a culture which sees white collar crime going unpunished.

There are three linked and effective actions which must be taken now – Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

Barbados Health Minister attacks journalist over questions about Minister’s porn business profiteering

Donville Inniss narrowly avoids defamation lawsuit with immediate retraction

Minister of Health Donville Inniss verbally attacked Barbadian journalist Ian Bourne last Friday before a public audience at the Unity Bar Lunchtime Lecture.

Minister Inniss falsely accused Bourne “You have a big blog site that is full of nasty (stories)” but then immediately withdrew the comment as a strategic move after having put Bourne down to the laughter of the stacked DLP audience. It was a dishonest move that lacked integrity, but it works in a room full of party supporters.

The audio recording of the event reveals that Inniss did not apologize, and he laughed derisively at the journalist along with many in the pro DLP audience. The derision has become the standard reply by Inniss and the DLP to defuse what should be, what would be, a major political scandal and a major news story in any nation with a free and determined news media.

If Mitt Romney had his name on ‘Orgasm.com’ or some of the other Inniss-related porn sites, can you imagine what the world’s news media would do?

In Barbados the news media is too cowardly or complicit to even mention the story despite the fact that the evidence is still available online to the public as well as the news media.

News blackout on the Donville Inniss porn business story

The recent defamation and derision by Minister Inniss stems from Ian Bourne’s private and respectful question to the Health Minister on July 7, 2011 about posts on Barbados Free Press exposing the Minister’s connections to online porn. (See links at end of story)

Mr. Bourne privately and respectfully asked Minister Inniss:

“Donville – I am sorry to disturb you but there are wild allegations as you may be aware of, concerning your alleged connection to a number of websites with pornographic connotations. EG: Youngntender.net, orgasm.com & nakednews.com among others. Can we do an Interview where the public has your side of the story? Please advise ASAP…”

Donville Inniss replied:

“come on Ian”

Mr. Bourne answered:

“What does this mean? Nothing wrong in dispelling rumours, it shows proactivity on your part to air your perspective on the matter…”

… For the entire story of Journalist Ian Bourne’s interaction with Health Minister Donville Inniss about the porno business connections, read Bajan Reporter’s piece: BARBADOS CABINET MINISTER ATTACKS “BAJAN REPORTER” AT DLP STRONGHOLD – MAKES FALSE ACCUSATION WITH NO APOLOGY!

Minister Donville Inniss refuses to talk about this subject – because he knows it is true.

Starting in 2011, Barbados Free Press published a series of articles showing the long term connections between Inniss and the online porn business. Continue reading

34 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Ethics, Freedom Of The Press, Human Rights, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Attention Finance Minister Sinckler: About those Donville Inniss US Corporations, Real Estate and Assets

How did Donville Inniss get cash to Florida to purchase this condo?

Finance Minister Sinckler assures: Barbados plays by the rules! (But does Minister Inniss?)

by Marcus & Shona

Barbados has this little problem right now. French, American and Canadian politicians are calling our country a “tax haven” and other names – which is actually their way of accusing Barbados of offering secret offshore banking to foreigners who don’t want to obey the tax laws of their own countries.

France and some others say we don’t obey the rules of international finance. (Joke on the side: How many French soldiers does it take to defend Paris? Answer: Nobody knows. The French have never tried to defend Paris.)

Our government is responding to the charges with an aggressive public relations campaign and a host of reciprocal information sharing agreements with other countries. We’ve also pledged to update financial legislation and to more effectively monitor international financial transactions.

Fair enough. The sea is changing so Barbados is setting out some different sails and adjusting the windage and the helm. Good. We’ll check the passenger manifest too, to ensure that everybody on board is someone we don’t mind sailing with. That’s only common sense when our survival depends upon the friendship of other countries. (“Friend of all, satellite of none.”)

This is serious business for Barbados, because as Minister Sinckler said the other day at a meeting at Cin Cin Restaurant (Look at the food! THE FOOD! YUM!!!)

“…the international business and financial services sector contributes upwards of 60 per cent of all corporate revenues in the country and, therefore, that is an important station for us and one that we seek to protect and, of course, guard very zealously.”

… Minister Sinckler quoted in the Barbados Today news story Leading by example

What about the international finances of Health Minister Donville Inniss?

Barbados Free Press is publishing a series of stories showing that Minister of Health Donville Inniss profited from the online porn industry. Our stories tell the truth even if the Barbados news media covers up and looks the other way. Minister Inniss knows that our stories are true so he hasn’t taken any steps to have the stories removed from WordPress where Barbados Free Press makes its home.

But now we get to the issue of money. How was Minister Inniss paid for his involvement with online porn companies? Was he a stakeholder in any company or was he providing a paid service to front the porn industry? Were any of his family members or friends acting as proxies?

We think we see some interesting discoveries on the internet…. Continue reading

17 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Freedom Of Information, Political Corruption, Politics & Corruption

Meet our new Magistrate: Priest, lawyer, ex-cop Graveney Bannister

Which one will be the magistrate?

Priest, lawyer, ex-police officer – it sounds to us that Graveney Bannister knows human failings and compassion (Priest), knows the law (Lawyer) and looks at everything with a hard-nosed cynicism (Police officer).

Furthermore, Mr. Bannister has spent most of the last two decades away from Barbados so he is unlikely to be indebted or loyal to any political party or business group. Like our new Chief Justice Marston Gibson, it looks to us like Magistrate Bannister is as independent and untouched by corrupt power cartels as is possible in a small country like ours.

Yup, Magistrate Bannister might be just what Barbados needs.

Now if we could only get the MPs to pass some modern laws and fund the justice system well enough to make trials happen within a minimum time of, say, five years for a start. Pathetic when five years would be an improvement, isn’t it?

Welcome back to Bim, Magistrate Bannister!

Popular priest and lawyer returns to native Barbados

Bermuda Sun, September 30, 2011

Popular Anglican priest and lawyer Graveney Bannister is leaving Bermuda. Mr Bannister is set to return to his homeland Barbados today to pursue a career opportunity with the church.

He has also been appointed a magistrate and wants to see his eldest daughter through her final years of education.

He told the Bermuda Sun he had “mixed feelings” about leaving the island.

He said: “Bermuda has been like a second home for me. I have made so many great friends here and am very grateful to them all for the love and support they have shown me…”

… Lots more in the Bermuda Sun article here

5 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law

Where does SIR David Simmons get his moral authority?

Re-virginated Barbados Attorney General David Simmons became Chief Justice

Our friend John Glasgow over at TCI Post writes about the Chairman of the Turks and Caicos Integrity Commission, former Barbados Chief Justice SIR David Simmons …

“I love the people of Barbados, they are probably the most hospitable people in the entire Caribbean, after Turks and Caicos Islanders of course!!! The Island of Barbados is absolutely stunning and the food is among the best in the world. Those people could make a fruit punch, it the best I ever drank. I have been to Barbados more times than any other Caribbean country.

However the former Chief Justice of Barbados and now Chairman of the Turks and Caicos Integrity Commission is one bajan I do not have such admiration for…”

Read the rest at TCI Post’s Who or what gives David Simmons the authority to lecture Turks and Caicos Islanders about ethics and integrity?

6 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Ethics, Political Corruption, Politics & Corruption

Duprey, Parris, Thompson and some other people need to go to jail

CL Financial, CLICO – one huge unsustainable Ponzi Scheme

“Lawrence Duprey was paid $90 million a year from the deposits of policyholders in collapsed insurance company CLICO, attorney Neal Bisnath said yesterday.”

“CLICO invested US$445 million of policyholders’ money in a Florida real estate project called Capri, while the investment was worth only US$200 million.”

If Prime Minister David Thompson was alive today, he would have some difficult questions to answer about his activities as CLICO’s lawyer, and about how he and his government participated in building the house of cards Ponzi scheme known as CLICO. The public deserves the truth about what Thompson knew, what he did – and how his long-term service putting deals together for CLICO, Duprey and Parris put him in numerous conflicts of interest as Prime Minister.

David Thompson knew that CLICO policy holders were paying outrageous money to Duprey and Parris – probably illegally with no segregation of funds even where the rules called for this. David Thompson knew that the payments were being hidden. David Thompson was CLICO’s lawyer when ten years of accounting records were illegally withheld.

“We know now that on May 15, 2005 while acting as CLICO’s lawyer, David Thompson signed a secret contract between CLICO and Leroy Parris’ private company that in effect deceived shareholders into believing that Parris was being paid less than he really was.”

…from the BFP article Leroy Parris’ defence of Prime Minister David Thompson rings hollow now

David Thompson knew that CLICO was being raped by Duprey and Parris. David Thompson was part of it and you can bet that when he became Prime Minister his senior Cabinet members had to have known the truth too. That house of cards was wobbling long before it collapsed – and the Thompson-Stuart government covered up and protected Leroy Parris for as long as they could. After all, the government politicians got their bizjet rides, the DLP got its funding and Thompson’s law firm got big contracts – paid for with policy holders’ funds.

Now the only “solution” that the Thompson/Stuart DLP Government can come up with is for taxpayers to “invest” more money. Well, I guess that’s better than riots in the streets.

As for Leroy Parris and Lawrence Duprey – they laughed all the way to the bank and they are laughing still. There are hundreds of millions of assets missing, just vanished into thin air at the end of fraudulent paper trails, but nobody will go to jail for this massive fraud and breach of the public trust. No big shot ever goes to jail in Barbados.

This Barbados Today article lays it all out…

Bisnath made the statements as he cross-examined Michael Carballo, the former group financial director of CL Financial, during the commission of enquiry into the collapse of CL Financial and the Hindu Credit Union at the Winsure Building, Richmond Street, Port of Spain, yesterday.

Bisnath said CLICO’s cash stream was also used to fund investments made by CL Financial.

“Is it true to say that from what we have seen CLICO was really used as a cash cow in the group?” Bisnath asked Carballo.

“Yes, because CLICO was really the one that had the cash flowing in it,” Carballo said.

“And that cash that was flowing happened to be policyholders’ money and Mr Duprey and CL were using CLICO policyholders’ monies without regard to the risk that it was putting those policyholders under,” Bisnath said.

Bisnath described Duprey as a “great investor of other people’s money”.

He said CLICO invested US$445 million of policyholders’ money in a Florida real estate project called Capri, while the investment was worth only US$200 million.

“We know in taking on risks he (Duprey) used policyholders’ money, not his personal money; and when you use OPM, other people’s money, you can have all kind of fancy dreams and you can make all kind of fancy investments because if you lose it, it is not your money you are losing,” Bisnath said.

“He (Duprey) could therefore have a bold and aggressive attitude toward business, and an insatiable risk appetite because it was not his money he was using,” Bisnath said.

Read the entire story at Barbados Today: Duprey paid $90 million a year

Further Reading

Trinidad Express: Duprey bagged $1.1b before bailout

11 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Crime & Law, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics & Corruption

Coleman Commission into CL Financial: Ministry of Finance, Central Bank want to exclude Afra Raymond’s testimony

“A Commission of Enquiry can only make findings on the evidence submitted to it, so it would be very important for some people to have certain evidence omitted.”

The Colman Commission – Balancing the Scale

by Afra Raymond

The Colman Commission into the failure of CLF Financial and the Hindu Credit Union is just about to move into its second round of Hearings and the public can expect to have further testimony on the losses suffered by people who deposited monies with CL Financial.

I have made several submissions to the Commission and have been invited to give evidence. 

I am reliably informed that there have been strong and unanimous objections to my participation in the Colman Commission.  It would seem that only the Commission itself is interested in having my testimony go onto the record.

It is not surprising to me that objections of that sort would be arising now, but readers need to have a context.

The Colman Commission was established to find out how this fiasco occurred, recommend methods to stop a recurrence and also to identify responsible people who are apt for lawsuits or criminal charges.  The main parties can be expected to give self-serving evidence, designed to exonerate themselves from any blame.

We can also expect to hear more attempts to put the blame onto Wall Street, despite the claims in the CL Financial 2007 Annual Report – this is from the preamble -

…“The Next Wave of Growth” is the theme of this annual report, highlighting, to quote our Chairman, “that out of any crisis opportunities will emerge and our progress during the year under review prepares us to seize those opportunities and unlock value.” We have confidence in our ability to not only navigate this financial storm but to find fresh and profitable opportunities within it…

That Annual Report was published on 23rd January 2009 – yes, that is 10 days after Duprey wrote to the Central Bank Governor for urgent financial assistance and one week before the bailout was signed on 30th January.

The Colman Commission is a Public Inquiry into a matter of major importance; it was approved by the Cabinet and installed by the President of the Republic.  A Commission of Enquiry can only make findings on the evidence submitted to it, so it would be very important for some people to have certain evidence omitted. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Economy, Offshore Investments

Politicians and voters – a visual illustration


Because it’s Monday morning and we all need a smile with our coffee!

“… campaigns once depended on rousing oratory by stump speakers but now feature expensive rallies with musical acts and other entertainment; the political speakers are an annoyance that the audience must endure.”

… from a WikiLeaks US Embassy cable talking about political campaign funding in Barbados.

Our thanks to an old friend for sending us the video!

3 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Music, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

In the Caribbean, budget time is corruption time!

“Expenditure of Public money – minus Accountability – minus Transparency = equals CORRUPTION”

Property Matters – State Enterprise Accounts

by Afra Raymond

In the next few weeks, this column will cover some of the issues which are likely to have a bearing on the 2012 Trinidad and Tobago Budget. The same issues apply to Barbados – especially considering the country’s lack of Integrity legislation, conflicts of interest rules, accountability mechanisms and Freedom of Information laws. Without these basic foundations, Barbados politicians, government officials and managers of state-owned enterprises can only pretend to be accountable to citizens: and pretend they do!

In my view the State and its Agencies must perform in an exemplary fashion if we are to progress.  A good example is worth a thousand words. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Freedom Of Information, Trinidad and Tobago

Without fear of punishment CL Financial – CLICO Executives had no limits

“If you let people get the idea that they can never be punished, there is virtually no limit to the rules they will break.  Asset-stripping, Bribery and Corruption can become the new norms of a governing class and that is what has happened in our country.”

This is an edited version of Afra Raymond’s address to the 4th Biennial Business Banking and Finance Conference (BBF4) held at the Trinidad Hilton from 22nd to 24th June, 2011.

The session he participated in was devoted to ‘Lessons from the Financial Crisis: The Resolution of Failed Entities’.

by Afra Raymond

Thanks for the invitation to speak at this forum, it was last-minute, but welcome, since our local Institutions of Higher Learning have not spent the necessary time to explain and analyse this financial fiasco.  I have been very critical of the Institute of Business, the Institute of Social and Economic Research, the Faculties of Economics and Management and the Caribbean Centre for Money & Finance, so it is great to see you making a start on this overdue work.  It is my pleasure to participate in these proceedings.

I want to start by shifting focus to the arena of the mind and the existence of elements such as moral and ethical values, as well as social standards.  In 1971 there was a famous series of psychological experiments in which selected students entered a two-week role-play as prison-guards in control of other people who were playing the role of prisoners.

That experiment was conducted at Stanford University in California and the results were that most of the prison guards adopted cruel behaviour with most of them being upset when the experiment was stopped after only six days.  The entire experiment was filmed and the prisoners suffered from regular acts of wickedness, abuse and sheer perversity – one-third of the guards acted sadistically.

The Stanford Prison Experiment as it is now known, was heavily criticised as being unethical and unprofessional.  Of course the other aspect is that it re-opened the perennial discussion into the nature of things.  The nature of our nature, as it were – ‘Are we humans naturally evil and cruel?’  The learning seems to be that well-adjusted and reasonable people can very quickly lose their moral compass in a situation with a lack of the conventional controls such as disapproval and laws.

The New Norms of the Governing Class…

No surprise to those familiar with history and politics, but the lesson for us in T&T is that…

If you let people get the idea that they can never be punished, there is virtually no limit to the rules they will break.  Asset-stripping, Bribery and Corruption can become the new norms of a governing class and that is what has happened in our country.

We have never had a strong tradition of detecting and punishing White-Collar Criminals, so if we are to make a start in terms of the resolution of failed entities, that has to be the starting-point.  We cannot reconstruct or resolve the failed entities if we do not change that aspect of our culture – the absence of consequence has to be abolished. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Crime & Law, Economy, Ethics, Offshore Investments

Colman Commission ignoring the smell of dirty money?

Afra Raymond asks where the money came from in the first place

Auntie Moses says that all money has a smell. Honestly-earned money smells clean and dishonest money stinks to high heaven. If you put too much of that dirty money in your purse, you start to stink too. So says Auntie Moses and she’s generally correct about those kinds of ethical issues.

Our friend Afra Raymond has noticed a little problem over at the Colman Commission into the CL Financial – CLICO debacle. I’ll let Afra explain it…

“There also seems to be a strange situation on CL Financial, since I am told that none of the affected people are willing to come forward to testify.  I am not very surprised at that and it is yet another indication of the extent of that toxic ‘Code of Silence‘.

What a shame!  25,000 policyholders said to be affected by the failure of CL Financial, yet only one is willing to testify.  Only One!   I wrote before in this space about the probability that a high proportion of those EFPA monies had never been screened by rigorous Anti Money Laundering (AML) procedures.  I suggested to the Minister of Finance that provisions be made in the payout agreements for the applicants for bailout monies to have the source of their funds vetted for compliance with VAT, PAYE, Income and Corporation taxes.  The Minister did not adopt those proposals.

So, what we now have is the spectacle of the Colman Commission set up by the government to examine the causes of the collapse and finding that few want to speak, very few.  I don’t know if it’s dirty money, or ‘keeping it in the family‘ or what…but I do hope that Colman takes a robust approach by using his powers to sub-poena people to appear and testify.”

Read the whole dirty story at Afra Raymond Colman Commission considerations

1 Comment

Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption

State Enterprises, Public Procurement: You scratch my back…

This second article in our series forms part of the Private Sector/Civil Society publication ‘Public Procurement Special’ in the Trinidad & Tobago Review and is published here with the permission of one of the authors. The lessons for Barbados are there if we care to look.

“The fact is that many of the Directors and Officers of State Enterprises are political appointees, which puts the entire rationale onto a doubtful footing.  Because the salaries and perks are so attractive, not to mention the commercial opportunities, the State Enterprises are prize targets for political appointments and favours.”

State Enterprises and Public Procurement

State Enterprises were created to enhance the pace and quality of Public Procurement, yet they are now the scene of the most bedeviling paradoxes in the entire system of public administration.

Some of the key procurement issues which arise in this arena flow directly from the split character of the governance model. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics, Political Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

Mia Mottley trying to stamp out corruption within the BLP Barbados Labour Party

“You do not have to be a rocket-scientist to realise that Mia Mottley seems to be trying to stamp-out corruption within the BLP but that decision has placed her squarely on a collision course with the old-boys club and the very persons who are responsible for the corruption.”

Can “One man, one vote” stamp-out BLP corruption?

by “O”

As an independent observer, I think Sunday Sun Columnist Albert Brandford might have got it all wrong this week (see his column: Sunday Sun, June 5, 2011). I now clearly understand why Social Media has ruled Traditional Media, obsolete. Social Media, for the most part, is being driven by young people: a new generation, who have found an innovative way to communicate, which seems to have given them the freedom of expression, they are comfortable with. This is a new generation who are not willing to turn a-blind-eye towards corruption. Mia Mottley therefore seems aware that going into the next election, the BLP will have a major problem! Continue reading

17 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption