Holder’s Land Scandal Involved PM Owen Arthur & His Friends, Richard Cox & David Shorey
And the winner of the first annual Barbados Piggies At The Trough Award is….(drum roll and bugle fanfare)…. Prime Minister Owen Arthur.
BFP’s Judging Panel had no difficulty in choosing the winner of this year’s award for two main reasons. Firstly, the deal you read about below was the subject of the most submissions. Secondly, because what happened at Holder’s illustrates what is wrong with the system we have now in our beloved country.
What happened? Here is the description from the person who nominated Owen Arthur and won the US$1000 cash prize…
Environmentally Sensitive Land Impossible To Rezone For Development – Until The Right People Stand To Make Some Money…
The land (Holder’s) was zoned environmentally sensitive and was zoned for agriculture and the unsuspecting owner (Mr. B) was told by Town and Country Planning that it would never be rezoned for development. This would never happen, he was told, because of environmental concerns and because Barbados cherished its agricultural lands. All official plans said so.
However when it became known that the certain developers, the ‘rich neighbours’, were prepared to pay a lot if only the land could be rezoned and have certain permissions attached: the game started. Only problem was that this was inside information known only to a few including our winner Owen Arthur.
Poor Mr. B. was never told. Why should he share in the booty?
Here is how the game worked…
Mr. B. was pressured to sell the land at a reduced rate which maybe was fair for Zone 1 land. A group that included Richard Cox and David Shorey as front men raised the money to buy it. What the owner did not know, would never be told, is that the purchasing group included Owen Arthur who, although he did not put up any money, was allowed to share in the booty trough with the others.
Our Owen’s contribution was simple…
All he had to do was use his office to rezone and grant all the permissions the rich neighbours needed. Did this take the usual time period of years? Did the rich neighbours have to go through the usual channels? No to both questions. The new permissions for the property were granted instantaneously.
A check of the State of the Environment Report and the Physical Development Plan (Town and Country Planning verifies this) shows that there never was a plan or application to rezone this property before that and bingo the fix was done and the property was shortly flipped for a bundle to the rich neighbours.
How did they do it?
Simple. Owen Arthur, as supreme commander, just ignored and overrode all the land use and planning laws of Barbados which are, it turns out, shameful. He gets his piece and the owner gets to cry because he is not allowed to get even close to the trough. Owen didn’t ignore the environmental laws, because there are none in Barbados. We just found that out when the government put the dump at Greenland.
What is so shocking about all this is that the perpetrators of this deal did not break any laws!
The Prime Minister of Barbados did not break any laws because there are no laws that prevent him from profiting when he uses his power to override the Town and Country Planning Department, change zoning, and grant permissions arbitrarily whenever he feels like it. In other countries these are called Conflict of Interest Laws.
Also there are no laws that require Owen Arthur himself, as elected official, to disclose this transaction to anyone such as us dumb voters who pay his salary. We will never know exactly how much he ate out of the $20 million +++ piggy trough simply because he is not required to tell us how much he had before or how much he has now. In other countries these are called Disclosure Laws. We wonder whether Owen even paid income tax on his booty.
In fact there are no laws which require Owen Arthur or the other civil servants who work for us, the people of Barbados, to tell us anything at all about this transaction. In other countries these are called Transparency Laws.
And we are not allowed to ask. Nope, no Freedom of Information Laws, either.
Well of course we know how that works. As the Owen Arthur himself has told us there is no need for these type of laws since there is no corruption in Barbados. And he ought to know. We should trust our leaders to be good.
Oh, and as for the land owner…
Mr. B. he is out of luck. When the ‘rich neighbour’ decided it would pay a lot of money for the land when it was rezoned, nobody ever told Mr. B. Why would they? You guessed it: there is no law that requires that the land owner be told that his lands are about to be rezoned by the Prime Minister’s personal override of the system. So he has no right to claim that he has been fleeced.
In other countries Owen Arthur would go to jail for what he did and Mr. B would be the person who would get the profit from the sale of his land.
But not in Barbados.
There is no corruption in Barbados….and the trough keeps getting deeper.
About The Barbados Piggies At The Trough Award
The “Piggy” as the award is affectionately known, is presented annually to the Barbados politician or civil servant who best exemplifies the “chow down and climb right into the trough” spirit of Bajan corruption. The winner is the Barbados politician or civil servant who, in the opinion of the judges, best misuses position, political contacts or internal knowledge to benefit self, family or friends. (And yes, extra points are awarded for creativity or sheer brazeness.)
Here’s the original announcement about the creation of the award…
Cash Prize Of US$1000 Won By “Snippet”
More than a few people nominated PM Owen Arthur for this year’s Piggy over the Holder’s Land deal, but the Judging Panel chose “Snippet” because he/she provided the most complete information and obviously took a small risk to provide the information they gave us.
Snippet… we know that you wanted the money delivered by Option B on Thursday night, but we weren’t comfortable with the possibility that we might accidentally see each other’s faces. So… Option C… We had the money dropped off earlier tonight and it is waiting there for you right now. Hope it comes in handy after Christmas!