September 14, 2007

PM accuses Sir James of trying to mislead SVG

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has accused former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell of trying to mislead Vincentians, when he (Sir James) said that he would not have agreed to the failed Ottley Hall Marina project, had the Italian government not agreed to guarantee the loan.{{more}}

Stating that the documents he has in his possession, and the discussions he has had with officials from the Italian Government do not indicate what Sir James said, Dr Gonsalves said that it was in his view, “A complete and reckless abdication of our economic sovereignty, the manner in which this was done.”

“The documents and information made available to me, and I do have them…establish beyond any doubt, there would have been no loan to CCYY Limited without the sovereign guarantee given by the Government headed by Sir James,” Dr Gonsalves said.

According to a claim filed in the high court of justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Commercial Court on November 14, 1995, which lists West LB Financial Services PLC among four plaintiffs, CCYY Limited is listed as the first defendant while St Vincent and the Grenadines is listed as the second defendant.

Paragraph 16 of the Claim says: “By a guarantee in writing dated 3rd February 1992, in consideration (inter alia) of the obligations of the banks under the loan agreement, the second defendant as primary obligor and not merely as surety irrevocably and unconditionally guaranteed the due and punctual payment of all sums payable, but the first defendant under the loan agreement, as and when the same should become due, and undertook that whenever the first defendant should fail to make payment when due of any such sum, the second defendant would, upon demand, pay all sums in respect of which default had been made.”

“This guarantee exposed citizens to debts in excess of $200 million,” Dr Gonsalves said.

Meanwhile, speaking to SEARCHLIGHT, Sir James said that he is not misleading anybody. He also said that he is not afraid of the Commission of Inquiry, but will act on the advice of his lawyers.

But Dr Gonsalves suggested that Sir James’ interpretation could not be right because West LB bank sued this country, when the project went belly up.

He also noted that the government did not put up a defence; therefore a default judgment was handed down on the matter.