May 21, 2004
No Joachim just yet

Vincentians who waited with bated breath on the result of a High Court ruling that would determine whether Richard Joachim testifies before the Ottley Hall Inquiry have to wait still longer.
When the matter, filed by Nicole Sylvester, attorney representing the former NCB Chairman was heard Tuesday, Justice Frederick Bruce-Lyle reserved judgement on issues until May 24.{{more}}
And in an interesting development, laywer Nicole Sylvester has sought to clarify before the media the facts of the outcome of proceedings before the Court hearing of Tuesday, May 18.
Sylvester, in a letter copied to all media houses chided SVGTV for what she called “erroneous, misleading and false information” relayed to the public.
According to Sylvester’s letter the issues before the High Court were:
1. An application by Richard Joachim for leave to apply for Judicial Review of a ruling by the Commission of Inquiry
2. An application by the Attorney General to strike out the application by Richard Joachim and to remove the Attorney General as a party to the action.
3. An application made by Mr. Joachim to cross-examine the Commissioner and Roslyn Harry on their affidavits filed in the proceedings.
Sylvester explained in her missive that the Judge heard the application first and at the end dismissed same with “no order on costs.”
It was further explained that Sylvester “Counsel for Mr. Joachim then notified the Court that she was not proceeding with cross examination of the witness and withdrew her request which the Court accordingly noted.”
She went on to explain that “Counsel for the Commission (Anthony Astaphan) then asked for costs and the Court ordered costs to be found in the sum of $1,500.”
It was further explained that the Court then embarked on the hearing for leave for Judicial Review” and after hearing both parties “the Judge reserved his decision until May 24.”
Sylvester is emphatic that her application for leave for Judicial Review was “not struck out and remains to be decided.”
This High Court matter was occasioned by Sylvester’s objections during last week’s sitting of the Commission of Inquiry to the manner in which her client had been summoned to appear before the Commission. Inquiry Commissioner Ephraim Georges had ruled against Sylvester, which prompted her taking her case before the High Court.
But while the Commission was temporarily denied having the much-awaited testimony of the former NCB boss it had to do with a rather eager witness in former Managing Director of the ill-fated Union Island Resorts David Russell.
Russell testified for most of Monday as Commission Counsel Anthony Astaphan sought to have the witness confirm that the Union Island project was proceeding with out proper planning approval. Most of Rusell’s testimony revolved around this fact and that the project did not attract any investors at a time when the main company involved in the sister project, Valdetarro was already bankrupt.
Also called to testify was former Director of Planning Randolph Cato who like Russell faced detailed questioning from Astaphan on whether proper planning approval had been sought for the Union Island Marina project. Asked pointedly whether final planning approval had been obtained for the project, Cato’s response was a terse “No.”
But while these witnesses were being called, much interest still lies in the outcome of the challenge before the High Court since up to this point the witness of interest continues to be Richard Joachim.
The Commission of Inquiry meanwhile has been postponed until June 28. By then we expect all the side legal issues should have been well out of the way to allow for the former National Commercial Bank chairman to take the stand.