WE, THE PEOPLE WRITE TO JLSC

Written by on October 18, 2017

Sandra C.A. Ferguson
Richmond Hill, St. George’s, Grenada
E-mail: wethepeople.gnd@gmail.com

October 13th, 2017

The President & Members
The Judicial and Legal Services Commission
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court
2nd Floor, Heraldine Rock Building
P.O. Box 1093
The Waterfront, Castries.

Esteemed President & Members,

Re Appointment of Sir Lawrence Joseph as Ag. Attorney-General of Grenada

Permit me to present my compliments and best wishes!

I am a citizen of the state of Grenada over which the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has jurisdiction and in which the Judicial and Legal Services Commission wields authority and enormous influence. Permit me, an ordinary citizen, to address you and to raise concerns in respect of the recommendation of the JLSC that Sir Lawrence Joseph be appointed as Acting Attorney-General of Grenada.

1. Appointment of Acting Attorney-General:
A government information service release accessed at http://www.nowgrenada.com/2017/10/sir-lawrence-joseph-appointed-acting-attorney-general/ makes clear the centrality of the recommendation of the JLSC re Sir Lawrence’s appointment to the position of Acting Attorney-General:-
• Sir Lawrence Joseph recommended by the Government of Grenada to the JLSC: The Minister of Legal Affairs, had advised the nation “that in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Grenada, the Government of Grenada properly recommended to the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) that is headquartered in St. Lucia that Sir Lawrence Joseph be appointed to act as the Attorney-General with effect from 2 October 2017”
• Approval of Recommendation by JLSC: The release further advised that “the Minister is pleased that the JLSC has approved the recommendations of Sir Lawrence’s appointment for the period recommended.” The release did not advise on the period recommended.
• Governor-General Appoints Sir Lawrence on Advice of the JLSC: Grenada’s Governor-General had “accordingly made the appointment of Sir Lawrence to act as Attorney-General on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission…”
• Posts of Deputy Governor-General and Special Advisor to Parliament Relinquished: The release also advised that Sir Lawrence Joseph “was therefore now the holder of the post of Acting Attorney General and has therefore relinquished the posts of Deputy Governor-General and Special Advisor to Parliament”.

2. Citizenship by Investment Agent/Conflict of Interests:
Permit me to clarify that I do not put in question Sir Lawrence’s qualifications to be Attorney-General. He has held that position on previous occasions, not as a public officer but as a Minister, and has since pursued studies elevating him to a Doctor of Laws. It is on the area of his employment in private practice that I wish to focus.

Permit me to draw to your attention, esteemed President and Members of the JLSC that both Sir Lawrence Joseph and his spouse, Lady Anande Trotman-Joseph, Chairperson of the Integrity Commission, are approved local Citizenship by Investment Agents . Their firm’s website advises: – “The Firm’s licensed local agents ably advise interested investors, and persons interested in second citizenships about Grenada’s CBI program and suitable approved projects in Grenada.” The routes to second citizenship in Grenada are via donations to a National Transformation Fund and investments in private “Government-approved” real estate tourism projects.

The website further advises that in the area of investment and tourism, “The Firm offers comprehensive advice and full service representation for a range of services, including negotiations with Government through the designated officials and agencies, obtaining government concessions, company registration, business set up, employment advice. The Firm represents some of the leading tourism developers and approved sites in Grenada. ” (my emphasis)

2.1. Suit No. GDAHCV2010/0252
Among those “leading tourism developers” that were represented by the firm is Spiceland Trading, whose principal, H.E. Peter DeSavary, “investment ambassador” is the first international marketing agent of Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Programme. The firm represented Spice Land Trading and also instructed another lawyer re Suit No. GDAHCV2010/0252 in which Bruce John McNess and Suzanne Victoria McNess of the United Kingdom brought an action against Spiceland Limited, one of Ambassador DeSavary’s companies involved in the Mt. Cinnamon development, an approved project to be financed via the Citizenship by Investment Programme. There was an EC$2.7 million judgment against H.E. Peter DeSavary. It is instructive to note that, at the time of judgment delivered in February 2014, the principals of the law firm, Dr. Lawrence Joseph, was President of the Senate, and his wife Anande Trotman-Joseph, was Deputy Chairman of the Integrity Commission.

2.2. Conflict of Interests:
It seems to me, unschooled in legal process and interpretation, that there is a conflict in the private interests that have been pursued by Sir Lawrence and will continue to be pursued by the partner in his Chambers and the public interests that he has to serve as Acting Attorney-General.

3. Role of the Attorney-General and Attorney-General’s Chambers:
As I understand it, the constitutional role of the Attorney-General is to be the principal legal advisor to the Government of Grenada. The website of the Ministry of Legal Affairs further advises as follows: – “The Attorney General’s Chambers is also responsible for reviewing all agreements, deeds, leases, treaties, conventions, etc. to which the Government is a party……………The office of legislative drafter also falls within the purview of the Attorney General. This office is responsible for ensuring that all laws are drafted and sent to Cabinet for their approval before proceeding to Parliament for enactment.”

Legislation is the purview of the Attorney-General’s Chambers. On the official website of the Grenada’s CBI programme, there are many bits of legislation in relation to the CBI, since the programme was introduced with the passage of the Act in August 2013. This will undoubtedly continue. How should the public perceive the matter of an Acting Attorney-General, a public officer drafting legislation in relation to the CBI, while his Chambers and Partner provide CBI services as a local agent?

4. Role of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission:
When an Attorney-General is to be appointed as a public officer, he or she is appointed by the Governor-General acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, Sec.88 (2). So it would seem that Sir Lawrence Joseph has been appointed as a public officer.

I assume, esteemed President and Members that the role of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission is to help guard the integrity of the judicial system within the jurisdiction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and ensure the confidence of the people of the region in their judicial institutions and judicial officers.

5. Citizenship by Investment Agents and Public Office:
There is much concern about the levels of conflicts of interests, perceived or real, involving public officers, even those in Oversight Institutions in Grenada. This matter is of particular concern when it touches judicial officers, whatever their place in the hierarchy of the institutions.

Esteemed President and Members, permit me to draw to your attention to the following,
• A former member of the Regional and Judicial Legal Services Commission, responsible for choosing the judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice, while also holding the position of member of the Board of Governors of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and Ambassador to the OECS and CARICOM, one Mr. Wendell Lawrence, was at the time of holding these public offices, a citizen by investment agent. I raise this issue because these regional institutions have jurisdiction over Grenada. Permit me to share with you a letter of 2012, written in another capacity to the Integrity Commission of Grenada on this matter. Please find attached.
• Acting Judge in Montserrat for a short period in late 2016, Mr. James Bristol, was listed as a Citizenship by Investment agent/representative of a Citizenship by Investment agent – a company listed as Zenas International Inc {4}.

The Citizenship by Investment Programmes in the Eastern Caribbean have been and continue to be mired in many allegations of corruption and scandal. It is therefore my opinion that it is absolutely improper for persons pursuing private interests and private gain as citizenship by investment agents or representatives of citizenship by investment agents to hold public office on regional financial regulatory institutions, judicial institutions and Integrity Commissions. It is these conflicts, perceived or real, which cause diminished confidence among the people of the region in the integrity of their institutions.

6. JLSC Procedures:
Permit me to suggest that the JLSC considers more transparency in its procedures re the appointment of judicial officers. There could be a step in the process which would publicize the nominations and invite members of the public to raise any objections that they may have to certain nominations proposed for any office under consideration. The information can be duly considered and if necessary, investigated, before the Commission reaches a final decision.

I thank you, Esteemed Members of the JLSC, for the opportunity to bring my concerns to your attention re the recommendation of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission to appoint Sir Lawrence Joseph to the public office of Attorney-General of Grenada and to share with you concerns in respect of conflicts of interests and the Citizenship by Investment programme in respect of public office.

Respectfully yours,

Sandra C.A. Ferguson

Enc.

[1] http://www.cbi.gov.gd/grenada-citizenship/local-agents/   -accessed on October 14th, 2017

[1] http://www.josephlawyers.com/economic-citizenship

[1] http://www.josephlawyers.com/practise-areas/

2012, APRIL 13TH – LETTER TO INTEGRITY COMMISSION

2016 OCT 10TH – Our Local Agents _ CBI Services _ CBI Lawyers _ Grenada CBI


Reader's opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


CHIME FM 100.9

Current track
TITLE
ARTIST