Special Feature
November 25, 2005
DPP studying Ottley Hall report

Director of Public Prosecutions Colin Williams will not be rushed into acting on a report handed to him pertaining to the investigations into the Ottley Hall Ship Yard and Marina, and Union Island Marina in the Southern Grenadines.

It was 1992 when the Ottley Hall fiasco first surfaced. That project was valued at US$5 million by liquidators, after $200 million had been spent on what was touted as a major tourism boost for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Some persons have deemed the Ottley Hall matter the greatest scam that has ever been perpetrated here.

A Commission of Inquiry into the matter was set up in 2002, with Justice Ephraim Georges the sole Commissioner. Special terms were arranged for the Commission of Inquiry, which allowed it to operate worldwide.

However, lawyers for some of the persons prominent in the inquiry appealed against the manner in which the Commissioner was appointed.

Investigations proceeded nevertheless, and last Friday, November 18, even with a ruling from the Privy Council on the Appeal not yet determined, Justice Georges handed a report to DPP Colin Williams. According to Roslyn Harry, the Commission’s secretary, “On the evidence disclosed to the Commission,….certain criminal acts or offences have been or may have been committed by certain persons involved in the Ottley Hall and Union Island Resorts projects.”

“I am looking at it. I am studying it,” Williams said at his office last Wednesday.

Given the timing of the report, three days before Nomination Day, and 19 days before the general elections, Williams may have found himself in an awkward position.

A press release from the Commission added that “after prolonged and stiff resistance from West LB in the Courts in Italy and Ireland, a large quantity of documents have been released by Westdeutsche Landesbank (West LB) in Milan and Dublin.”

Documents from SACE, an Italian government export finance agency in Rome have also been recovered and handed over to the DPP.

Since then, interest in the Ottley Hall matter has rekindled. And with the general elections only days away, speculations as to who might be charged are rife.

The Inquiry was proceeding apace with some horrendous revelations when the Appeal into the setting up of the Commission retarded its progress.

However, efforts to uncover the massive fraud were continuing, and Justice Georges’ report came as another earth-shattering development.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has cited the report as evidence that he is serious about government’s plans to get to the bottom of the operation.

He referred to the new developments when he addressed a gathering of his Unity Labour Party supporters at Heritage Square last week Friday.

A number of persons have appeared before the Commission, including former Ministers under the New Democratic Party, lawyers, former Board members of the National Commercial Bank, and former workers at the failed venture.