By Melanius Alphonse
Caribbean News Now associate editor
CASTRIES, St Lucia — Following the recently published interim report on disinformation and ‘fake news’ by the Britain’s parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has called on the Allen Chastanet government to “come clean” on the involvement of Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) and citizenship consultants Henley & Partners in Saint Lucia elections.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Dr Ernest Hilare, SLP spokesman on investment, commerce, tourism, science and innovation described the report as “a damning indictment” of the role of SCL and Henley.
Hilaire, the former head of Saint Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) when it was first launched in 2016, noted that Henley was not initially given the exclusive rights it had sought in relation to the citizenship by investment programme (CIP).
Then, just before the general elections in June 2016, Henley issued a negative statement regarding Saint Lucia’s CIP, which was carried in local media and, according to Hilaire, helped undermine the credibility of the then SLP administration.
Hilaire said it is believed that SCL/Henley was very involved in the 2016 election campaign, which was won by Chastanet’s United Workers Party (UWP).
“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,” Hilaire noted.
After the UWP formed the new government, Henley was appointed as the lead marketing agent for the Saint Lucia citizenship programme.
In February 2017, Henley issued 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 continued: “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?” Hilaire asked, although omitting to mention that Maragh is also Chastanet’s personal attorney.
“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 & Partners in Saint Lucia,” Hilaire said, adding that the opposition needs answers to the following questions:
1. What was the extent of SCL’s involvement in the UWP campaign of 2016?
2. Did Black Cube [an Israeli private intelligence service, whose work allegedly included illegal hacking] work for the UWP in the 2016 campaign?
3. What was Henley & Partners involvement in the 2016 elections?
4. Did the UWP make a deal with Henley & Partners to manage the CIP which resulted in the company opening an office in February 2017?