Commentary: Rick Wayne: Saint Lucia’s Don Quixote or purveyor of fake news?

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Anthony Astaphan SC practices in the OECS. He was made Senior Counsel by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in 1999. He is the former President of the Bar Association of Dominica

By Anthony W Astaphan

Normally one man’s obsession with another man would be a matter of considerable rum shop debate. But when Rick Wayne’s obsession with Dr Kenny D Anthony includes the peddling of misinformation, it’s time not just to talk but respond, especially when his misinformation is coupled with transparent hypocrisy. Wayne’s Grynberg Neither A Zombie Nor A Bolom provides another provocation for such a response.

In my letter to the editor “Setting Rick Wayne’s Record Straight” (click here to read) I responded to Rick’s malicious campaign against Dr Anthony with his self-serving cartoony writings on Rochamel and Grynberg. Following this publication, Wayne recently published his Zombie piece mentioned above.

Astonishingly he begins by rambling about Stephen Lester Prescott, and spends much ink on this fake exposé. The entire Saint Lucia knows that the Voice has given space to both the SLP and UWP, and that Stephen Lester Prescott is intended as the pen name for the SLP.

But more importantly, Rick Wayne completely ignored the essential and indisputable facts I raised in my letter to the editor, especially on the Grynberg matter. Let’s forget the legal issues. Rick Wayne’s extraordinary arrogance has never ordained him with knowledge of the law. But it has persuaded him to misrepresent or deliberately omit facts. I therefore repeat what I wrote on the critical Grynberg facts ignored by Wayne, then and again in the Zombie episode.

Did the agreement expire or was it renewed in 2008?

In 2004 the Grynberg agreement was extended for a period of three (3) years. Consequently the agreement was to expire on the 30th March 2007. [ See the Amendment to the Agreement.] There is no dispute that the SLP lost the election on the 11th December 2006. On the 10th April 2008, some one year and more after Dr Anthony lost the election, the Permanent Secretary of External Affairs, Mr Anthony Severin, informed Mr. Grynberg that the agreement had expired in 2007. [See Mr Severin’s letter of 10th April 2008.]. Mr Grynberg replied on the 16th May 2008. Mr Grynberg acknowledged that Mr Severin was correct and that “the Initial expiration period of the Agreement was extended until March of 2007”. [See Mr Grynberg’s letter of 16th May 2008]. Now this correspondence took place after the 2006 election. Mr Severin was stating and Grynberg agreed that the Agreement had expired in March 2007.Nevertheless, Mr. Rick Wayne makes absolutely no mention of this assertion by Severin and Grynberg’s admission that the Agreement had expired in March 2007, at a time when Dr Anthony had no authority or opportunity to further renew it.

Subsequently, the International Tribunal delivered its Ruling on the Government’s application for security for costs on the 3rd August 2014. [Click here for the Ruling] In paragraph 20 of its Ruling the Tribunal said:

“In March 2004, the Parties ( meaning the Government and Grynberg) acknowledged the continuance of the boundary issues and agreed to an extension of the Agreement by another three years.”

In paragraph 21 the Tribunal noted the following:

“After a change of Government of Saint Lucia in 2006 and after a further replacement of Saint Lucia’s prime minister in 2007, an envelope was given to Mr. Earl Huntley on November 7 2007 in the prime minister’s office….. According to Claimant, the envelope contained an agreement signed by the prime minister to the effect the Agreement was extended by another three years. “

[See also paragraph 22]

These are important facts, all of which have been ignored by Rick Wayne. These facts establish that Grynberg was and is relying on an extension of the Agreement not by Dr Kenny D Anthony, but on one signed by then Prime Minister Stephenson King. That this is in fact so was confirmed by Mr. Huntly who stated the following in a public statement released by him:

“….I met with Prime Minister King on 5th Nov 2007, and briefed him on the background to the Project and the Agreement and the developments since the start of 2007. Prime Minister King assured me that he was fully aware of those developments and that he thought St Lucia should proceed to renew the Agreement. He told me that he would have the signed documents ready on Wednesday 7th November 2007. On Wednesday 7th Nov, I was informed that the Prime Minister needed more time to examine the documents. A few days later the P. M’s secretary asked to me to collect the documents as the Prime Minister King had signed the Agreement.

I immediately went to the P.M’s Office where his Secretary handed me an envelope with the document renewing the Agreement with Grynberg Petroleum Signed by P.M Stephenson King. I left the PM’s office with the intention of sending the package to Grynberg by Fed Ex as this had been the mode of transmission from Grynberg…”

Mr. Rick Wayne says absolutely nothing about the Tribunal’s Ruling or the facts disclosed by Earl Huntley.

There are still other very important facts ignored by Wayne. The International Tribunal in ordering Grynberg to pay security for costs to the Government of Saint Lucia held that Grynberg’s conduct including his failure to pay the costs of Grenada in those proceedings, and his impecuniosity (see paragraphs 81 and 82), meant or led to the conclusion that he is unable to fund the litigation or pay costs if he lost. As far as Rick Wayne is concerned these indisputable facts simply do not exist. Recently, there was talk of an appeal by Grynberg. If true, this means Grynberg lost. Again, Wayne appears oblivious to this fact as well. No surprise.”

In the light of all of these unanswerable facts, Rick Wayne can bellyache all that he wants about the authority of the prime minister. The incontrovertible fact is that Grynberg is not relying on any extension of the agreement by Dr Anthony, but by the UWP government of which Mr Allen Chastenet was a prominent member.

Now unless Rick Wayne is suggesting then Prime Minister King and his entire Cabinet, which he embraced, and continues to fully embrace, head up first, were completely naive or fools, the fact that they agreed to renew the Grynberg Agreement means (i) they fully understood the agreement, and (ii) accepted the potential benefits of the Grynberg Agreement. The desperate recall of the renewal does not negate these iron clad facts!

These iron clad facts also beg these questions: if Rick Wayne and his UWP bedfellows were so deeply concerned about this Grynberg this and that, why did the UWP Cabinet not disclose the agreement and correspondence to the public? They cannot now claim ignorance as they had the documents when they agreed to renew the agreement. Also, why did they not agree that the Commission of Inquiry established by them include the Grynberg Agreement?

Just think of these simple straightforward questions. Once you do, you should be very concerned that Saint Lucia has a real live Don Quixote riding the hills and valleys of Fair Helen chasing if not creating fake news for public consumption.

Finally, in his penultimate paragraph of his Zombie piece Rick Wayne wrote:

“At the conclusion of his piece, Stephen Lester Prescott offers this strange suggestion: ‘I invite all Saint Lucians to examine both the DSH agreement and the Oil Exploration agreement and objectively comment on their relative merits’.”

Clause 7 of a DSH Agreement signed by the new UWP government of Saint Lucia gives a foreigner the full right to open and control an escrow account in a foreign jurisdiction for what are in substance public funds procured under the citizenship program. There is more, lots more.

Nevertheless, Rick Wayne has remained disturbingly if not hypocritically silent on the details and clauses of the DSH Agreement and Supplementary Agreement, which he claims to have read. However, for now, I wonder if Rick would have remained dumb, deaf and blind had Dr Kenny D Anthony been the prime minister who signed the agreement with such an obviously unconstitutional and surprising clause.

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