Wednesday 30 September, 2020

Hilaire wants answers on foreign influence of 2016 St Lucian election

SLP Spokesman on Investment, Commerce, Tourism, Science and Innovation  Ernest Hilaire gave the following statement earlier today at an SLP press conference:

"The issues facing Saint Lucia’s investment landscape and the citizenship by investment programme are getting worse. Today, I want to focus on two areas which are of grave concern and threaten to destroy even further the reputation of Saint Lucia as a jurisdiction of choice for investment.

Firstly, let us deal with investment.

The SLP repeatedly called on the Prime Minister to reconsider his approach to the use of CIP donation contributions which belong to the people of Saint Lucia and ought to be used primarily for social development. We felt and still do that donation monies should not be used to loan to investors at extremely low interest rates. We also felt that the actions of the Prime Minister were illegal. He knew and was reminded by the Opposition that he needed the approval of Parliament before monies deposited in the National Economic Fund from donations can be used. He knew his actions would be illegal if he honoured the agreement.

We have been learning through the media and talk shows a number of disturbing issues which the Government has not cleared up. What we have heard from the Prime Minister is that he accepts responsibility for the delay with the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Black Bay and that he hoped that all issues can be resolved by July 1st. No details of the delay were given. Then the Prime Minister announced that he already had other investors interested in the development giving the impression that there would be no settlement with Range Developments.

We would learn through the media, that Range Developments has requested a settlement of about EC$20m for costs incurred and that this should be settled by July 1st. Apparently, there has been no settlement even after the Prime Minister had publicly accepted responsibility for the delays in the Project. We would further learn that Range Developments has served the Attorney General notice of intent to sue. This time the claim will be for cost and aggravated damages totally over EC$100m!!!! Surely, the Government of Saint Lucia will not allow the people of Saint Lucia to be burdened with such a law suit. We cannot allow such an incompetent and inept Cabinet of Ministers to destroy the viability of the country. Why is the Government of Saint Lucia not settling this matter?

We have learnt that in pursuance of the Agreement with Range, the developer brought in about 250 CIP applicants. Given each donation is US$100,000 and less commissions, the developer expected about US$20m to be available. Why is no money available? Where is the CIP money?

The Saint Lucia Labour Party calls for the following:

1. That the Minister with responsibility for Investment, Hon. Bradley Felix, and Mr. Pinkley Francis, Chairman of Invest Saint Lucia, to make a public statement on the Ritz-Carlton Fiasco;

2. That the Prime Minister account for the CIP monies which have been earned since the launch of the Programme; and

3. The Cabinet of Ministers make every effort to settle this matter in the best interest of Saint Lucia and avoid tax payers having to be burdened with a decision of the Court which may not be favourable to Saint Lucia.

Secondly, let us deal with the CIP.
You would have learnt that two days ago in the House of Commons in England, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee issued its Interim Report on Disinformation and ‘fake news”. The Interim Report is a damning indictment of the role of SCL, an elections advisory Group, and Henley and Partners, a CIP advisory firm.

In the Report, it is made clear that SCL has been involved in elections in Saint Lucia with the United Workers Party. It is believed that they were very involved in the 2016 Elections which was won by the United Workers Party.

But let me take you back to early 2016, just before the General Elections when Saint Lucia had just set up its CIP. Henley and Partners was not given the exclusive rights to the Programme and issued a damning statement on the Saint Lucia CIP, a programme which was recently set up. The statement was made by Dr. Steffen, Managing Partner of Henely and Partners. The Statement by Dr. Steffen was carried in the Voice on April 23, 2016, six weeks before the elections. This helped undermine the credibility of the Dr. Kenny Anthony administration.

We are told in the Report that “behind much of SCL Elections’ campaigning work was the hidden hand of Christian Kalin, Chairman of Henley and Partners, who arranged for investors to supply the funding to pay for campaigns, and then organised SCL to write their manifesto and oversee the whole campaign process. In exchange, Alexander Nix told us, Henley and Partners would gain exclusive passport rights for that country, under a citizenship-by investment (CBI) programme. Alexander Nix and Christian Kalin have been described as having a ‘Faustian pact’. With the exclusive passport rights came a government that would be conducive to Mr. Kalin and his clients.”

The UWP won the 2016 Elections.

In February 2017, Henley and Partners issues a statement, “International citizenship and residence advisory firm, Henley & Partners, is opening a new office in St. Lucia, its fourth office in the Caribbean region. The firm will work closely with the Government of St. Lucia to promote its relatively new and very competitive citizenship-by-investment program.” The statement goes on “The St. Lucia office is led by Managing Partner Mark D. Maragh, an experienced local attorney-at-law with an extensive track record both in the law and international financial services.”
Is that co-incidence?

The Report concludes that:

“We received disturbing evidence, some of which we have published, some of which we have not, of activities undertaken by the SCL-linked companies in various political campaigns dating from around 2010, including the use of hacking, of disinformation, and of voter suppression, and the use of the services of Black Cube, an Israeli private intelligence service, whose work allegedly included illegal hacking. We also heard of the links between SCL and Christian Kalin of Henley and Partners and their involvement in election campaigns, in which Mr Kalin already ran or subsequently launched citizenship-by-investment programmes, involving the selling of countries passports to investors. SCL’s alleged undermining of democracies in many countries, by the active manipulation of the facts and events, was happening alongside work done by the SCL Group on behalf of the UK Government, the US Government, and other allied governments. We do not have the remit or the capacity to investigate these claims ourselves, but we urge the Government to ensure that the National Crime Agency thoroughly investigates these allegations.

Given that Parliamentarians in the UK are asking the Government for the National Crime Agency to investigate SCL and Henley, the time has come for the Allen Chastanet Government to come clean on the involvement of SCL and Henley and Partners in Saint Lucia. Accordingly, we need answers for the following questions:

1. What was the extent of SCL’s involvement in the UWP Campaign of 2016?

2. Did Black Cube work for the UWP in the 2016 campaign?

3. What was Henley and Partners involvement in the 2016 Elections?

4. Did the UWP make a deal with Henley and Partners to manage the CIP which resulted in the company opening an office in February 2017?

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