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An open letter to the Grenada minister of foreign affairs
Published on April 3, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Hon. Nicholas Steele
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Business
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Business
Ministerial Complex
St. George’s

Dear Minister Steele,

Re: Citizenship by Investment and Other Matters

Greetings Minister Steele! I write to you in my personal, individual capacity, a shareholder of Grenada PLC, as a follow-up to my letter of November 17th, 2013. In that letter, I made enquiries in respect of a number of matters of matters of significant national interest and concern, among which were:

i. The Appointment of Ambassadors
ii. Citizenship by Investment Programme
    a. Citizenship Application Committee
    b. United States Regional Economic Development Authority - Marketing Agent
    c. National Transformation Fund

1. National Transformation Fund:

In that letter, I sought information and clarification in respect of four projects - Port Louis, Mt Cinnamon, St. David’s Town Centre and West India Spices – to be financed by the sale of citizenship and passports, via the National Transformation Fund. Specifically, I asked the following:-

• How much financing: How much financing are we talking about here in respect of these four projects?

• How many passports and citizenships: What is the equivalent number of passports and citizenships that are being sold/that have been sold?

• Criteria for financing: What are the criteria that projects must meet to be financed by the National Transformation Fund?

• Who reviews and approves projects: Can you also advise WHO makes up the committee which reviews projects for financing? Can you also advise by whom/what were these persons appointed and to whom do they report?

We the shareholders are still awaiting answers.

2. Recent Developments:

Recently, Minister Steele, there has been some profoundly disturbing even alarming developments in respect of the business of Grenada PLC and the Citizenship by Investment Programme.

Minister’s Spouse Approved Passport Agent: The Government Gazette of February 6th, 2014 has confirmed, Minister Steele, that your SPOUSE, an attorney-at law, of Veritas Legal, is an approved passport agent. Minister Steele, you are the Minister of International Business. In the discharge of your public duties as Minister, you engage with these so-called “investors” that your government is wooing. It appears to me that the appointment of your spouse as a passport agent is a BLATANT conflict of interest between PRIVATE interest and the PUBLIC interest.

Spouse of the Chair of the CBI Committee Appointed as Approved Passport Agent: The Government Gazette of March 7th, 2014, Volume 132, No.12 confirms that the spouse of Mr. David Holukoff, Chair of the CBI Committee – has been made a local agent another BLATANT conflict of interest. In addition, this spouse also sits as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation to whom all these “investors” will be applying for tax concessions. In addition, provision is made for a representative of the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation to sit on the Review Panel in cases where application had been denied.

Amendment to CBI Act: As if these SPOUSES being appointed local passport agents was not bad enough, you introduced an amendment to the CBI Act which went through all its stages in the House of Representatives on March 6th. To my utter disbelief, that amendment now REMOVES the requirement for DISCLOSURE in respect the names, addresses and nationalities of those who have applied for Grenadian citizenship. A report posted on NOWGRENADA.COM noted the explanation offered was – the amendment is an adjustment that the Government finds necessary.

Minister Steele, permit me the following observations and comments:-

• Grenada PLC cannot be run like your private LLC company and CHOICE is necessary. Does the family want to profit from the lucrative citizenship/passport trade or do you wish to be the people’s REPRESENTATIVE.

• It appears to we shareholders of Grenada PLC that the Citizenship by Investment Programme is being run like a LODGE. It reeks of nepotism and cronyism.

• The current situation is UNTENABLE and does not augur well for accountability, transparency and INTEGRITY IN PUBLIC LIFE.

Other Matters:

Support for Argentina’s Malvinas Claim: I was rather taken aback to learn, Minister Steele, of “Grenada’s ongoing support for Argentina’s sovereignty claim over the Falklands …”[1] WHEN and HOW did Grenada arrive at this position? Is this a CARICOM position, a Grenada position or is this a Minister Steele’s position? Or is a commercial decision? Are we selling support and what are we getting in return? To the best of my knowledge, Minister Steele:-

    o Sometime ago, the people of the Malvinas voted overwhelmingly to stay with the UK.

    o Grenada is a member of the Commonwealth and it receives significant support from the Commonwealth. If you are unaware of the level of support, perhaps your colleague Min. Emmaline Pierre needs to fill you in.

    o There is a significant population of Grenadians and persons of Grenadian descent living in the United Kingdom.

The decision in respect of the Malvinas, Minister Steele, does seem a little at odds with what may be Grenada’s best interests.

York House: Permit me to congratulate you for your prompt response to the concerns raised by the Willie Redhead Foundation. I look forward to a satisfactory resolution which will see York House saved and restored. As a shrewd businessman, you must be aware of its significance and importance to the Town of St. George and the heritage potential..

Who is/was in town? Over the last month, we the shareholders have noted with interest a mega yacht that has been docked on the St. George’s pier. Mega yachts signal “high net worth”, the kinds of individuals your administration claims to be wooing with its Citizenship by Investment Programme. Is that mega yacht we have been seeing the Rising Sun owned by an American billionaire? Does this billionaire have business interests or is he acquiring business interests in Grenada? So many people are often eager to advise when mega yachts are in town. Why is everyone keeping such a “low profile”?

Thank you, Minister, for the opportunity to offer these queries and observations.

Sincerely yours,

Sandra C.A. Ferguson
Shareholder
Grenada PLC

[1] New Today, Feb. 21. 2014, Argentina grateful for Malvinas claim support, promises co-operation, pg. 21.
 
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