Daily Archives: February 24, 2010

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister shows the world what corruption is all about.

St. Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister Douglas knows nothing about US$95,000 cheque.

There is a story brewing in St. Kitts and Nevis that is just one more example of what happens when those in government use their insider positions, knowledge, authority and influence to put money in their own pockets – or in the pockets of their close family members. It’s really all the same, you know.

It turns out that Kate Woodley, the mother of the children of recently re-elected Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, has a “consulting business” that received funds from the Saint Kitts and Nevis Labour Party. It gets worse: she is a Ministry of Foreign Affairs employee at the St. Kitts and Nevis Consulate in Manhattan, New York.

That’s really all you need to know. Sure, we’ll tell you how those funds were directed and cleaned and processed to end up in the Douglas family bank account – but it really doesn’t matter.

All you need to know is right here… “Money donated to the Saint Kitts and Nevis Labour Party by voters and businesses ended up in the personal bank accounts of family members of Prime Minister Denzil Douglas.”

It gets worse…

During the recent election campaign the opposition People’s Action Movement had distributed copies of documents that appeared to show large sums of money passing through Lex’s accounts over the years, as well as copies of cheques including one for US$95,000 dated December 30th made out to Dr. Denzil Douglas.

Wednesday, Dr. Douglas acknowledged that his son, also Denzil Llewellyn Douglas, lived at the same address as the home-based company, but dismissed any knowledge of a cheque from Lex made out to him, the Prime Minister.

“I don’t know what cheque you’re speaking about,” the Prime Minister said.

… from the Winn FM article No Conflict Of Interest With Lex Says PM

It gets much worse…

Prime Minister Douglas is using the old “Nothing to see here, folks. Move along” defense…

“Several Government employees have private businesses, so that is nothing new.  There is no conflict of interest there,” Dr. Douglas said.

Public records indicate that Lex Consulting (LLC) is managed by Kate Alex Woodley, the mother of the Prime Ministers two children.  WINN FM understands that Ms. Woodley is an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, assigned to the St. Kitts and Nevis New York-based Consulate Office in Manhattan.

Speaking at a press conference in the Parliamentary Lounge a Government Headquarters, the Prime Minister reiterated previous statements that Lex had provided consulting services to a number of companies including the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party.

… from the Winn FM article No Conflict Of Interest With Lex Says PM

Did any of Lex Consulting’s clients obtain government contracts at any time?

This gets worse because here is the way it happens… A government official will issue a government contract to a company we’ll call “Company A”. Company “A” then hires a “consulting” firm that just happens to be owned and run by the wife or lover of the same government official who issued the government contract to Company “A”.

Very slick.

The “consulting” done by the government official’s wife or lover is never on the project for which the contract was issued. It’s always some nebulous job like “office automation consulting” or “marketing consulting” – and the money is often deposited overseas.

For instance, into the New York bank account of the consulting company run by the Prime Minister’s ex-squeeze.

Slick. Very slick.

Probably No Rules Broken because like Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis doesn’t have Integrity Legislation

For over forty years Barbados politicians of both major parties have promised to introduce Integrity Legislation and conflicts of interest standards. The current DLP Thompson government is no exception. Thompson said he would implement a Ministerial Code of Conduct “immediately” upon forming a government, and would introduce Integrity Legislation and Freedom of Information laws within the first 100 days.

That was over two years ago – but the DLP have become very slick indeed at managing the political fallout from failing to keep their promises.

The latest ploy by the Democratic Labour Party and Prime Minister David Thompson was to suddenly announce that their proposed integrity legislation will include the private sector as well.

That just about guarantees failure for passing the legislation and the PM knows that. That’s why he included the private sector!

DLP Stage Managing to ensure failure of Integrity Legislation

So here’s the drill… The DLP will introduce something in late 2010 that will eventually die in process. Given just a little more time and the next election campaign will be approaching. The DLP will pull out a couple of old BLP scandals that they have been hoarding for the event. Thompson will wave around another couple of cheques at a rally similar to 2007 when he showed everyone the “campaign donation” cheque that then-Prime Minister Owen Arthur put into his personal bank account.

Thompson will claim that the BLP is blocking the legislation etc etc etc and that he needs a mandate from the people… and off we’ll go into the next election.

And Thompson and the DLP will have had four solid years of operating without Integrity Legislation or Freedom of Information laws.

That’s the way it is near Grape Hall on a Wednesday morning.

PM Thompson Says His Use Of CLICO's Business Jet Is None Of Your Business

As to transparency and conflicts of interest, one of David Thompson’s first official acts as a newly-elected Prime Minister was to borrow the corporate jet of a company that does business with the Barbados government – and to refuse to release any details of the costs and arrangements.

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics, Freedom Of Information, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Barbados Government GEMS Hotels folly continues. Where did all our money go? Three remaining GEMS hotels valued at only $74 million!

How much money is missing: Two Hundred Million? More?

by Adrian Loveridge, Peach & Quiet hotel owner

According to an article carried in the Midweek Nation Wednesday 24th February, 2010 ‘the book value of the (GEMS) properties was only $74 million’.

How is this figure arrived at?

 Reading from their own website, Savannah has 98 rooms, Time Out at the Gap, 76 and Blue Horizon 70.

So a total of 244 rooms or a stated ‘book value’ of $303,278 per room with ‘accumulated debt of $229 million’.

Put that in context to our little hotel of 22 rooms and it would value us at around $6.672 million. One big difference of course, we have no outstanding debt and have been profitable for a consistent number of years.

Both Time Out at the Gap and Blue Horizon need extensive refurbishment, if they are going to live-up to their stated ‘3star’ rating.

No private sector in their right mind would take on the massive debt burden over the equity value, so where does Government go from here?

While the taxpayer is beginning to get some idea of the folly of this entire ‘ill-conceived project’, including the predatory pricing which has contributed to the closure of over 30 private sector hotels, there are still questions to be answered.

Where did the proceeds of the sale of Eastry House and Silver Rock Hotel go?

Predatory Pricing by Government… upon privately-owned hotels!

Prior to the closure of Silver Rock, the refurbishment and building of another 40 rooms, that property’s lowest published rate was US$118.
$40 million later and it re-opened as a GEMS property with room rates as low as US$80 per night.

Clearly intended to systematically undermine all the other private sector hotels in the area!

Perhaps most the most appalling revelation of this whole saga is the statement by Minister Estwick, that Hotels and Resorts Limited ‘could not carry out any audited financials because of the patchy nature of its accounting’.

What a terrible indictment of the GEMS Chairman, Board of Directors and management at that time and their absolute dereliction of duty to perform due diligence.

I can understand the current Government’s reluctance to put yet more money ($3 million) into this seemingly bottomless pit, but when will this end, and at what cost to the private sector that in many cases are hanging on by its coat tails?

Adrian Loveridge
24th February 2010

Article title and bold subtitles by BFP editor

Comment by Barbados Free Press

The most damning reference in The Nation article is the following…

“(Minister of Economic Affairs) Estwick also said HRL, which was created to bailout all of the non-performing assets of Barbados Labour Party Party families and friends, could not carry out any audited financials because of the patchy nature of its accounting.”

… from The Nation article Let Go of Gems!

Our questions for Minister Estwick and also Prime Minister David Thompson…

1/ What laws were broken by the BLP government in creating the GEMS scheme “to bailout all the non-performing assets of Barbados Labour Party families and friends,” ?

2/ When will the DLP government launch legal action to recover the ill-gotten money from “Barbados Labour Party families and friends” ?

3/ It took the Thompson Government over two years to figure this out? Really? You just found out about this even though everyone on the island knew for at least five or six years? Really? What were you doing in Opposition… sleeping?

4/ Which DLP family members and friends have done business with the government since the David Thompson became Prime Minister over two years ago?

Further Reading

Here is the full Nation News article Let Go of GEMS! published here because The Nation has re-written history in the past by selectively removing and modifying online news articles. Continue reading

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