Friday, February 27, 2009

Shocking news to Antiguans

Today history was made here in Antigua when parliament was recalled after being dissolved just weeks before a massive general election. They were recalled to debate the compulsory purchase (a.k.a. eminent domain) of R Allen Stanford's lands here in Antigua. The arguments for the purchase were presented and debated, and at the end of it all the "I's had it" and the act was passed. Some 250+ acres of land were taken away from him in order to protect investors claims against those assets and to protect over 800 jobs. I have spent the past two days trying to understand it all and think i have a better idea of why it was done. I spoke to both ALP and UPP lawyers on this. It seems like it may have been the best move to make at this point, and i can explain more about it later. The fact that our government had no legal right under our laws to put a lien or caution on his lands forced them to do the only other thing they could do to protect these assets and that was to compulsory purchase them.
Anyway, that was not the shocking news. What was shocking was the info that came out in the criminal complaint filed in Texas against Allen Stanford's right hand woman, Laura Pendergest-Holt. If you are Antiguan or have any interest in Stanford or his banks then you should read the complaint here. Apart from further providing evidence for this "8 billion dollar fraud" which is of interest to us all, it shows an email between Stanford top execs where they speak about a land purchase. The email shows that Stanford International Bank purchased Pelican Island (which we knew about) and Guiana Island Farms (!!!!) back in 2008. If this email is legit and these two top execs knew what they were talking about then this is the more shocking to many Antiguans than anything so far in the Stanford saga. Again IF this is all true then....this means that apart from the 250+ acres of land that our parliament was recalled to take away from Standford, he also owns about another 2000 acres here which nobody here seemed to know about. In parliament yesterday it was alleged that the Cort and Cort legal firm was on a US $25k retainer monthly from the Stanford group. Mr. Cort did not say this was untrue, and there seems to be quite a bit of talk locally about this connection. I find it very hard to believe this allegation because most retainers here locally are a fraction of that. What i do find strange though is this... There was a legal measure taken by our government against the owners of Guiana Island and the surrounding land preventing them from selling it pending the outcome of a court case where some US $200 million in unpaid taxes (undeveloped land tax) is at stake. I think this is public knowledge, and I would have imagined that if Stanford was going to buy the company owning the land that had this massive figure liened against it, he would have spoken to his lawyers or someone in our Gov. about the problems he would face. Weird that nobody on the island of Antigua knew about Stanford's purchase. I am sure that if the Government knew about this recent purchase then, when for the first time in history as the parliament was called back, they would have taken those 2000 acres too. All super weird.
What is also strange is that SIB has to give monthly and quarterly statements to Antiguan banking authorities here. According to the criminal complaint SIB listed those lands mentioned above as assets on these statements. How did our local off shore banking authorities miss this and fail to let the AG know if this is actually a fact. If i were the Prime Minister or even worse the Attorney General I would be asking some questions about now.

Whales being spotted daily here at the moment

It's that time of year again when humpback whales are passing through these islands with their young ones.
whale watch
JD and his full Xtreme charter last week saw a nice pod off Pillars of Hercules and yesterday I saw a mother and her calf breaching and tail slapping off Indian Creek.
one whale
As my regular blog followers know from my last whale blog, I am like most Antiguans very much against our government's stance on international whaling and I hope that someday we have leadership that stands up to the Japanese and says no to their blood money. Both the former ALP government and the current UPP government support Japanese whaling.