by Sandra CA Ferguson
- Appointment of the Attorney-General:
Finally, we the shareholders of Grenada plc have been advised that Sir Lawrence Joseph has been acting in the position of Attorney-General since 2 October. The substantive holder of the post is on leave and speculation/rumours abound that he may not be returning to that position.
A Government Information Service release accessed at https://www.nowgrenada.com/2017/10/sir-lawrence-joseph-appointed-acting-attorney-general/ informed as follows:
- Sir Lawrence Joseph recommended by the Government of Grenada to the JLSC: The Minister of Legal Affairs, had advised the nation “that in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Grenada, the Government of Grenada properly recommended to the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) that is headquartered in St. Lucia that Sir Lawrence Joseph be appointed to act as the Attorney-General from with effect from 2 October 2017”
- Approval of Recommendation by JLSC: The release further advised that “the Minister is pleased that the JLSC has approved the recommendations of Sir Lawrence’s appointment for the period recommended.” The release did not advise on the period recommended.
- Governor-General Appoints Sir Lawrence on advice of the JLSC: Grenada’s Governor-General had “accordingly made the appointment of Sir Lawrence to act as Attorney-General on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission…”
- Posts of Deputy Governor-General and Special Advisor to Parliament Relinquished: The release also advised that Sir Lawrence Joseph “was therefore now the holder of the post of Acting Attorney General and has therefore relinquished the posts of Deputy Governor-General and Special Advisor to Parliament.”
The Constitution of Grenada, Section 70(2) makes provisions for an Attorney-General to either be a public officer or a minister. When an Attorney-General is appointed as a public officer, he or she is appointed by the Governor-General acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, Section 88 (2).
- Citizenship by Investment Agents/Conflict of Interests:
As a citizen of Grenada, I am affronted by the appointment of Sir Lawrence Joseph as the Acting Attorney-General. I hasten to add that I do not put in question the technical capacity of Sir Lawrence to be Acting Attorney-General. He has held that position on previous occasions, as a minister, and has since pursued studies elevating him to a Doctor of Laws. But I question his suitability to hold the post on the grounds of conflict of interests. The last time I checked, the partners at the law firm of Joseph & Joseph, Sir Lawrence and Lady Anande, Chairperson of the Integrity Commission, were approved Citizenship by Investment agents. The firm’s website advises: “The Firm’s licensed local agents ably advise interested investors, and persons interested in second citizenships about Grenada’s CBI programme and suitable approved projects in Grenada.” The routes to second citizenship in Grenada are via donations to a National Transformation Fund and investments in private ‘Government-approved’ real estate tourism projects.
In the area of investment and tourism, “The Firm offers comprehensive advice and full service representation for a range of services, including negotiations with Government through the designated officials and agencies, obtaining government concessions, company registration, business set up, employment advice. The Firm represents some of the leading tourism developers and approved sites in Grenada.. This area of ‘investment and tourism’ is what can properly be described as “speculative, real estate tourism”.
It seems to me, unschooled in legal process and interpretation, that there is a conflict in the private interests — citizenship by investment agents — that have been pursued by Sir Lawrence and will continue to be pursued by the partner in his chambers and the public interests that he has to serve as Acting Attorney-General. For me, an ordinary citizen, it is an affront that ANY appointee, be it political appointee or public officer, having private interests in the Citizenship by Investment programme, particularly as a Citizenship by Investment agent, should be appointed to the position of (Ag) Attorney-General.
- Role of the Attorney-General and Attorney-General’s Chambers:
The constitutional role of the Attorney-General is to be the principal legal advisor to the Government of Grenada, Section 70(1). The website of the Ministry of Legal Affairs further advises:
- “The Attorney General’s Chambers is also responsible for reviewing all agreements, deeds, leases, treaties, conventions, etc to which the Government is a party…(my emphasis).
- The office of legislative drafter also falls within the purview of the Attorney General. This office is responsible for ensuring that all laws are drafted and sent to Cabinet for its approval before proceeding to Parliament for enactment.”
Legislation is the purview of the Attorney-General’s Chambers. On the official website of the Grenada’s CBI programme, there are a number of pieces of legislation in relation to the CBI, passed since the programme began operations. This will undoubtedly continue. How should the public perceive the matter of an Acting Attorney-General, a public officer (?) drafting legislation in relation to the CBI, while his chambers and partner continue to provide services as CBI local agents?
- Citizenship by Investment Agent/Deputy Governor-General:
- Relinquishing the Post of Deputy Governor-General: It would seem that the government has found it necessary to have a Deputy Governor-General. Why was it/is it necessary to have a Deputy Governor-General? The GIS release advised that Sir Lawrence “has therefore relinquished the posts of Deputy Governor-General and Special Advisor to the Parliament.” This also suggests that someone will replace him in that position.
- Appointment of Deputy Governor General, Section 22(1): The Governor-General, in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, may appoint a deputy to perform functions of the office of the Governor-General as specified in the instrument of appointment. Were we the shareholders of Grenada plc aware that Sir Lawrence, a Citizenship by Investment agent, was also appointed to the position of Deputy Governor-General? What functions did Sir Lawrence carry out? What functions was he appointed to carry out?
- Exclusion from Judicial Review, Section 22(2): It is also worthy of note that it may be beyond the reach of we the shareholders of Grenada plc to find out what functions the Deputy Governor-General was carrying out since “the question of whether or not a deputy has conformed to and observed any such instructions shall not be enquired into in any court of law.”
- Steward of Crown Lands and Natural Resources: The Governor-General is steward of the Crown Lands, natural resources and assets of the country. When leases are made, they are made in the name of the Governor-General on behalf of the Government of Grenada. Did Sir Lawrence, in his capacity as Deputy Governor-General, sign any such leases or enter into any agreements on behalf of Grenada?
- Context, Elections, Citizenship by Investment, Debt-for-Nature Swaps, Blue Growth, Oil and Gas Exploration, Geothermal Development, Camerhogne Park et al: We the shareholders of Grenada plc must keep in mind the context in which Sir Lawrence is being appointed to the position of Acting Governor-General. With the absence of TRANSPARENCY regarding the various commitments, plans and projects in which the Government of Grenada has been involved, we have great reason to be concerned about the ownership and control of the nation’s assets. The oil and gas deal is one such example. What deals and agreements have been made? What laws have to be passed to give effect to those deals? Are there any amendments which need to be made to the Constitution?
- Camerhogne Park:
We must also bear in mind that the issue of Camerhogne Park is still unresolved. The Government of Grenada has not given any commitment to the protection of Camerhogne Park. Indeed, we must keep in the forefront of our memory that the Senate twisted and distorted a Senate motion brought by Senator Ray Roberts calling for the protection of Camerhogne Park at its present location for the use and enjoyment of the people into a motion calling on the Government of Grenada to continue to provide an enabling environment for the developer to make good on their proposal to develop the Riviera Project.
What can we expect from Sir Lawrence Joseph in his role as Attorney-General, principal legal advisor to the government, in respect of Camerhogne Park? His article, Camerhogne Park and the National Interest, is instructive: “…the balance sheet approach should be adopted utilising the national interest principle. Whilst it may be expected that certain elements of emotionalism would come into play, it is to be hoped that to a large extent realism would be able to displace idealism in the national interest.” (my emphasis). Sir Lawrence’s use of loaded words such as ‘emotionalism’ and ‘realism’ suggests that he has already made up his mind about what he considers the national interests. He will need to be reminded by the shareholders of Grenada plc that WE also have a say in determining the national interests.
- What/Whose Agenda:
Sir Lawrence’s political connections are not a secret. It is well known that Sir Lawrence Joseph is a party elder and member of the inner circle of the party of the current administration. So why this CHARADE of his appointment as a public officer on recommendation from the JLSC? Is it that if he were to be a political appointee, a Senate position would have to be sacrificed?
It is interesting to note the progression of Sir Lawrence over the period, 2014 to present: Citizenship by Investment Agent, member of the Constitution Advisory Committee; Special Advisor to Parliament; Deputy Governor-General. And now we have been advised that Sir Lawrence is acting in the position of Attorney-General. It seems to be a continuum, characterised by ‘conflict of interests’ (in my opinion). Where is it all leading? The questions that we the people need to ask is: WHAT is the agenda and WHOSE agenda?
 http://www.cbi.gov.gd/grenada-citizenship/local-agents/ – accessed on October 14th, 2017