Allen Chastanet writes to civil society

CASTRIES, Saint Lucia –Thursday, March 31, 2016

22nd March, 2016

Dear Sir / Madame,

You will recall that in my letter of December 16, 2015, I raised grave concerns about the validity and circumstances surrounding the ambassadorial appointment of Dr. Walid Juffali and the undeniable harm it was causing to St. Lucia’s reputation.

At that time, I also warned that it could not have come at a worse time for the Citizenship by Investment Programme and invited your support in calling on the Government to appoint an independent and autonomous Board representative of civil society; that annual financials of the CIP should be presented to Parliament and that legislative provision be made to permit the application of CIP funds for be use toward debt reduction or capital expenditure and NOT recurrent expenditure.

Since then, Dr. Juffali’s diplomatic immunity has been rejected by the British High Court and his ex-wife is seeking a judicial review of his appointment in the St. Lucian Courts, bringing suit against the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General.

This untenable situation continues to wreak havoc on St Lucia’s reputation on the international and diplomatic stages. In light of these latest developments, we ask again, why is the Government hell-bent on continuing to protect Dr. Juffali to the detriment of St. Lucia’s reputation?

In addition, the alleged architect of Dr. Juffali’s appointment, Dr. Ernest Hilaire has since been declared as the St. Lucia Labour Party’s candidate for Castries South for the next General

Elections while he remains Chairman of the CIP. It is now beyond doubt or speculation that the Labour Party is in control of the programme and as such it loses all credibility of being independent and free from political interference. This should be unacceptable to all right thinking St. Lucians who care about their country and its international reputation.

The Prime Minister recently announced that it had engaged a lobbying firm to work with the US Government on the issues surrounding the IMPACS matter.

We now know that the marketing company, granted an exclusive license to market the CIP in the Middle East and Africa, on the recommendation of the CIP Board and approved by the Prime Minister, Arton Capital, not only proposed the hiring of the Washington lobbying firm to the Government, but is also meeting the costs to the tune of US$150,000.

It is concerning to the United Workers Party, and it should be to all St. Lucians, that in his announcement of the appointment of the lobbying firm the prime Minister did not mention this arrangement with Arton Capital. The question must be asked: Why did the Prime Minister fail and or refused to advise the St. Lucian public of Arton Capital’s generosity.

The United Workers Party is very disturbed that the Prime Minister would accept this generosity from Arton Capital at a time when he either had before him an application by Arton Capital to be granted an exclusive marketing contract under the CIP, or he had just awarded such a contract to them.

The United Workers Party notes that Dr. Ernest Hilaire and the Prime Minister chose to announce the launch of the CIP at an event in Monaco organised and sponsored by Arton Capital, one of the applicants for an exclusive marketing contract under the programme.

The Prime Minister would have us believe that Arton Capital’s generosity is an attempt to restore the damage to the country’s reputation resulting from the IMPACS Report and the effect it could have on American investors. The fact of the matter is that the events and the timing of the events that I have referred to raises serious questions and cast serious clouds over the awarding of the contract, and further damaging St. Lucia’s international reputation.

It is clear that the Government, and or the Prime Minister and or Dr. Ernest Hilaire must take responsibility for these difficulties facing St. Lucia at this time.

It was the refusal of the Prime Minister to leave the IMPACS report to the Judiciary that has compromised the speedy conclusion of due process. .

It was Dr. Hilaire’s involvement in the injudicious appointment of Dr.Juffali as a diplomat and the Prime Minister’s refusal to waive his immunity that has tarnished our international reputation.

It is the actions of Dr. Ernest Hilaire and the Prime Minister that now have people asking whether there is a special relationship between them and Arton Capital.

For the reasons given, we are now seeking your support to ask firstly, for Dr. Hilaire’s immediate resignation as Chairman of the CIP.

Secondly, that the Arton Capital contract should be revoked in the interest of transparency or at the very least suspended and that the process for appointing marketing Agents for the CIP be reopened.

Thirdly, that the Government revoke the appointment of Dr. Juffali as a St. Lucia diplomat in relation only to his ex-wife’s claim against him.

The United Workers’ Party once again asks you to support what is right and to speak out on issues of poor governance that are impacting negatively on St. Lucia’s reputation in the regional and international community.


Allen M. Chastanet