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Nevisian Minister Spencer Brand clarifies allegations of profiting from CBI project stated by PM Harris

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By Devonne Cornelius

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Hon. Spencer Brand, Public Works Minister in the Nevis Island Administration, is being publicly criticized following a statement made by Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris that Mr. Brand is set to profit some US$44 million from a CBI Project. 

Dr. Harris, the Federation’s Finance Minister, made that revelation on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, at a Press Conference hosted by his Cabinet. 

Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris. 

He said: “…a member of the Mark Brantley’s Cabinet, Spencer Brand, is also a developer in the CBI Program and Spencer Brand’s project came to the Cabinet, supported by the NIA, for us to give them shares. Is it that the government is funding Spencer Brand’s project? It is about US$44 million. Is it that the Federal Government will take up nearly EC$120 million to fund Spencer Brand project? Or that Spencer Brand will go and find interested people? They understand how it works…”

Prime Minister Harris made that revelation in comparison to the prison being built at Estridge Estate on St. Kitts which has generated intense public dialogue.

Ms. Jaedee Caines, the Nevis Reformation Party’s Candidate coming up against Mr. Brand, in the impending local elections, raised questions about the matter. 

“I have since called on that MP [Member of Parliament] who has been named by Prime Minister Harris as the current Parliamentary Representative for Nevis 1 Charlestown to come forward and offer some clarification on this matter. I have asked, ‘what is really going on?’. Could it be that the Prime Minister misspoke when he named the member for Nevis 1? Could it be that it is true and we may have another Alexandra Hospital debacle on our hands? All I want is clarification,” Ms. Caines stated. 

She said, “we deserve an explanation, in fact, one worth US$44 million. I will add that it is really disgusting that we continue to hear rumours of our ministers seeking to excessively enrich themselves by raping the system while many of us suffer. We need answers because it is not their government, it is our government.” 

Ms. Jaedee Caines, the Nevis Reformation Party Candidate for Nevis 1 (St. Paul/Charlestown)

Ms. Caines went on to quote the Integrity in Public Life Act Chapter 22.18 which states that a public official commits an offence of abuse of office if he or she (a) seeks or accepts personal or private benefit for himself or herself or a member of his or her family or a person associated with him or her whether or not the benefit places him or her under an obligation to the person giving or offering the benefit. (b) uses public funds or resources for private purposes including party political purposes. (c) fails to act impartially or gives undue preferential treatment to a person or group of persons. (d) misuses information acquired in the course of his or her duties. (e) acts in any way that allows or might reasonably be thought to allow a conflict of interest to arise between the public duties and private interests of the public official.   

Mr. Brand, in an address Thursday (June 30), set the record straight on the matter. 

He said: “Dr. Harris claims that I, Spencer Brand, as a Sitting Member of the Nevis Island Government am involved in the Citizenship by Investment program. Just to be clear, I became a Member of the Nevis Island Administration as an Elected Member of the Nevis Island Assembly on 17th December, 2017.  However, in 2008, my wife and I purchased some 5 acres of land from a Dr. Eustace Huggins, at Coxheath Estate, St. John’s Parish Nevis, through a loan facility from the Bank of Nevis Ltd.   In subsequent years, I in my capacity as an Architect sought to develop those lands.

On the 12th of November 2014, in a letter under the hand of the Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Stedmond Tross, from the Nevis Island Government headed at the time, by the late Vance W Amory, responded to my application to development those lands, and I quote: 

“Dear Mr. & Mrs. Brand, we are pleased to inform you that we have made recommendation to the Federal Government that your project at Coxheath Estate be approved under the Economic Citizenship Program.

Please note however, that you will have to make formal application to the St. Kitts Investment Promotion Agency (SKIPA) for approval.” 

I subsequently made application to the St. Kitts Investment Promotion Agency (SKIPA) as mandated by law.

In a letter dated 27th of November 2015, from Mr. Stanley Jacobs, Director, Investment Promotion at the St. Kitts Investment Promotion Agency, and I quote:

“Dear Mr. Brand, we refer to your application seeking “Approved Project” status under the Citizenship by Investment Programme and other incentives for your project “Atlantic View Condos”. Please be advised that your request was submitted to Cabinet and it has APPROVED THE FOLLOWING IN PRINCIPLE pending the approved drawings and confirmation of approved financing from the bank:

  1. Designation of the development as an “Approved Project” under the Citizenship by investment Programme.
  2. Permission to sell off plan, provided that an Escrow Account is established and evidence of same is submitted to SKIPA and the Citizenship by Investment Unit.

Please note that your request for use of the timeshare mechanism for 1224 shares was not approved.

We await the submission of the above for final approval of your application.

Over the subsequent years, there was correspondence between myself and SKIPA regarding the scope of the Development and the number of shares in particular.

Excerpts from a letter dated March 5th 2021, from Mrs. Dorietta Fraites, Investment Facilitation Director at the St. Kitts Investment Promotion Agency, and I quote,

“Dear Mr. Brand, our agency refers to your application on behalf of Sun Valley Investment Ltd. seeking an increase in the number of shares for its project, Atlantic View Hotel, located at Coxheath Estate, Nevis. Please be advised that your request was submitted to Cabinet and it has granted approval for a total of 220 shares, as per the following structure”, end of quote, and the share structure was outlined;

The Prime Minister has given the impression, and sought to mislead the Nation, that this is a project that has only been submitted and approved since I became a Sitting Minister of the NIA, and since Mark Brantley became the Premier of Nevis. That is the furthest thing from the truth. 

This is a 70 room Hotel project, with a Conference Room, a Gym, a Spa, a Restaurant, a Club, a Deli, a Mini Mart with Swimming pool and Parking. This is a development, expected to provide employment for over 70 Plus Persons on completion, however, my wife and I have been unable to attract any investors to the project, because we need to sell the shares at the full statutory authorized price in order to raise the capital necessary to construct the hotel.”

 

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