Global Economic Brinkmanship - Part 5
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GLOBAL ECONOMIC BRINKMANSHIP - Part 5
Brink Bank $230-Billion In Assets
By, Paul Collin
U.S.A., Washington, D.C. - September 24, 2004 (Update to 14JAN04): The only inside look of its kind at what has become known as the world's largest financial business fraud ever perpetrated on an independent offshore bank that provides a healthy dose of thrills and chills by looking through the eyes of Van Arthur Brink (formerly known as, Gilbert Allen Ziegler), the former founder, CEO, and consultant of the highly controversial bank operated out of the Caribbean known as the First International Bank Of Grenada Limited (FIBG) or, as Brink called it, "First Bank".
While audited losses to investors and depositors reflect a total of $105-million (US), documented by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (now, IBM Business Consulting Services - Canada) through their assigned liquidator, i.e. Marcus A. Wide, news reports continue with fanciful estimates believed by them to be somewhere around $200-million (US). According to the bank founder, Mr. Brink indicated that losses were only a fraction of the bank assets estimated to be $200-billion (US), which should have more than covered any losses whatsoever.
According to reports from government officials and contractors, the United States Attorney's Office and other U.S. government agencies have not yet been able to sort out all the facts leading up to the collapse of the bank, which resulted in losses to victims.
Facts surrounding the loss of the bank are 'large asset instrument' document packages tied to the original asset owner's billions used for trading transactions as claimed assets 'deeded to' and 'under management' of Fidelity International Bank, Inc. (FIB) and/or First International Bank Of Grenada, Ltd. (FIBG) after having secured an offshore bank license (i.e. "#5") to operate according to the laws of the government of Grenada. Unfortunately, those 'large asset instrument' document files mysteriously disappeared after the then current bank CEO Mark Kennedy, removed `all' those documents and turned them over to a man named, Gabriel F. MacEnroe, who convinced he was a government `secret agent' operating out of St. Gallen, Switzerland. MacEnroe had convinced Kennedy that he was secretly assigned to carry out a government mission to clean up Kennedy's bank, and that Kennedy had best cooperate or be "taken down" when the government moves in to shut the bank down and arrest everyone on charges of conspiracy to commit frauds and money laundering.
Kennedy was frightened so, he decided to cooperate with MacEnroe, by turning over all of the bank's large asset instruments for MacEnroe to pick and choose from as to which ones were okay and which ones weren't. Little did Kennedy know at the time, MacEnroe sent them out for someone else to review who had ulterior motives of disposing of the assets by using MacEnroe as their pawn too.
So, while Kennedy was conned into believing that what he was doing was sanctioned by the United States government in helping to weed-out unsavory bank influences and fraudulent bank instruments, he was also assisting MacEnroe to eliminate any evidence of legitimate large asset instruments, which went missing that supported the government contention that the bank had lied about ever having legitimate assets under its management. The result was the total collapse of the bank, all of its satellite banks, numerous arrests, thousands of depositors from all over the World having lost millions of dollars, while MacEnroe, Kennedy, a man named Richard W. Downes, and others who simply walked away free.
Mr. Brink's chronology (below) describes the activities that went into collapsing his bank, which surrounds amongst others, 62-year old Gabriel F. MacEnroe who today is on the run from the United States FBI as an international fugitive who used to be a global trade financing and risk management consultant who saw to disposing of at least $8.7-billion (US) dollars worth of the bank's assets in a most ingenious set of complexities, which cannot be described in too many details here for the sake of this article space.
Brink describes how MacEnroe's proposals and pretexts as being the representative for a secret consortium of European businessmen who were interested in only some of the bank assets but who would takeover the bank just to get their hands on its high-end assets, was nothing more than a con game being run on the bank in the first place.
CEO Kennedy however seemed to be acting in the best interests of the bank by continuing to negotiate with MacEnroe, but instead was being conned until his private meeting in Switzerland.
MacEnroe switched hats when he met Kennedy in Switzerland, telling him that he was a government agent and that the banks' former CEO (Brink) was going to be nailed by the government and that if Kennedy knew what was best that he had better start cooperating with MacEnroe by providing him with detailed information about the bank assets.
MacEnroe made arrangements with CEO Kennedy to meet with his handler (a government agent), which was described in 'code' to Kennedy in a FAX he received at the Mozart Hotel in Rorschach, Swuitzerland on February 28, 2000 before meeting at MacEnroe's office in St. Gallen, Switzerland that next Tuesday.
Kennedy continued to cooperate by returning to Grenada and transferring the banks documents as well as Brink's computer hard drives over to someone else who represented themselves too as government agents.
What appeared to be a standard bank takeover, turned out to actually be nothing more than a highly sophisticated reverse-fraud technique, which resulted in making the former members of the bank appear as though they were the culprits behind just another money laundering offshore bank where as usual, frauds on investors and depositors had been committed.
In addition to the U.S. government, several other governments appear to have been cooperating in the investigation on the bank for five (5) long arduous years, which seems impossible to do without having ever found the detailed bank records about its high-end assets.
Without those records, the government has now thrown its hands into the air indicating the whole bank was a fraud since without records they have no way of legitimatizing any of the bank claims mentioned on what few records they do have noting this.
It appears that the bank executives are either going to be indicted, arrested or, asked to cooperate with whatever the U.S. government wants to say in its case about the bank and how its officers conducted their business affairs.
It seems as though anyone who does not want to go along with the government's case theory will undoubtedly feel the weight of their decision from within the confines of a federal prison, all as a result of missing records, MacEnroe told Kennedy to cooperate with in turning them over to an unknown federal agent.
Gilbert Allen Ziegler (also known as) Van Arthur Brink (the banks founder, CEO, and consultant) cautioned his predecessor CEO (Kennedy) as well as the FIBG, Ltd. Board of Directors against any deal with MacEnroe unless he basically had the money on the table. Oddly though, instead of Brink being hailed for his wise advice in forewarning members of the bank, he wound up becoming a victim of scandalous rumors and articles throughout offshore financial business news circles as having made off with the banks' funds.
News reports about Brink point to wherever CEO Kennedy instructed the bank to send money to, subsequent to Brink's own resignation, and after Brink had absolutely 'no control' over what the bank did with its monies, save for that of Brink's own personal investment s within the bank that Kennedy was asked to handle for Brink, but that was it.
Brink, being the philanthropist that he is, was hell bent to help the poor starving sick people of Africa out of Uganda, but was ridiculed for having gone to Uganda to help them, with wild news reports of his living in palaces that he supposedly somehow purchased for himself, which - according to property records in Uganda - he hasn't simply because his name isn't tied to any real estate in Uganda. So where's the beef in these allegations? Well, according to the U.S. government they don't need any evidence to prosecute Brink except from what their witnesses 'say' firsthand that they heard Brink say.
It is a fact that the U.S. government has clamped a veil of secrecy over the exact nature of the MacEnroe swindle while trying to protect him as was indicated in a federal court case in Greenville, South Carolina where MacEnroe was arrested and then set free without any supervision and allowed to go back to Switzerland pending court appearances, which he failed to show up at, which resulted in him becoming an international fugitive.
Was the U.S. or UK government trying to protect one of their deep cover agents? Was MacEnroe's pay off the $8.7-billion that were assets of the Grenada bank? Does the US or UK government have a secret problem with MacEnroe running out of control all over the world in ripping investors off as what has been indicated in at least four (4) courtroom record cases?
Other members of FIBG, Ltd. weren't just scandalized like Brink, but were arrested instead on January 6, 2004 by the U.S. government, which is seeking to prosecute them now. Those who wouldn't assist the government in fabricating a story that might would cover up Gabriel MacEnroe's role with the bank and that of his co-conspirator it seems, former bank CEO Mark Kennedy seemed to have gone on his own rampage, running right over the top of the bank's Board of Directors in order to collapse the bank and further the continuance of the MacEnroe fraud supposedly backed by the U.S. and UK governments to halt capital flight from their homelands in an effort to curtail independent and more profitable offshore investment markets.
Not wanting to appear as though they jumped the gun with the wrong conclusion, news reports and internet bulletin boards continue to maintain well fabricated rumors about Brink and other members of the bank that have continued to have negative connotation labels slapped on them for the past five (5) years as fraudsters, conmen, and money launderers guilty of crimes that haven't ever been convicted of.
It's hard to perceive why professional auditors and investigators would jump to conclusions just as fast as the press releases to gain headline notoriety as having stumbled upon a huge fraud when perhaps none even existed, which makes this all appear as the richest witch-hunt in world history because, how can they be so sure of what few facts they have if they don't have all the facts from the necessary records that still remain missing in order to conclude audits and accountings that make any sense at all. What then can the U.S. government claim?
The government, rather than conducting the appropriate search teams to track down the missing records couldn't even hang on to their rogue agent, i.e. Gabriel MacEnroe, or his so-called federal agent handler who was instructing CEO Kennedy to do things for them in such a way as to collapse the bank, leaving Brink and the others with no alibi.
Rumors and news reports were extremely successful in only causing a "run on the bank" where its investors and depositors couldn't seem to remove their monies fast enough before the bank was eventually forced closed by the Grenada government and unfortunately only short of within a few days of being able to provide sufficient new assets and re-capitalization of the bank in order to keep its investors and depositors from losing their monies.
FIBG, Ltd. had sought out a big bank in Europe and wound up running across MacEnroe based on a recommendation from a physician at a hospital in Germany who claimed that Gabriel MacEnroe could do anything financially with his connections to the House of Rothschild's, Arab royalty, and governments around the world.
During the process of the bank's attempt to obtain assistance from MacEnroe, $8.7-billion dollars (US) was swindled right out from under the noses of the bank with help of CEO Kennedy, who still maintains that he is secretly bound by his agreement with MacEnroe even though MacEnroe is an international fugitive.
MacEnroe had been operating for years out of several offices inside St. Gallen, Switzerland and other areas throughout the world after he abandoned his wife, i.e. Tiffany MacEnroe (nee Scales), in Egham, Surrey, UK and his son, i.e. Simon MacEnroe, at his Century 21 Real Estate office business franchise in the Kensington district of London, UK.
Gabriel MacEnroe's brother, i.e. Geoff MacEnroe, was prominent as a Steering Committee Chairman as well as another department within the European Union (EU), dealing with transborder assistances.
U.S. federal criminal indictments were passed down in Portland, Oregon resulting in FBI agents arresting only a few former directors of the bank, and issuing arrest warrants for others, while the person who actually swindled the bank out of $8.7-billion (US) dollars was allowed to go free from his federal imprisonment without any federal supervision from a Greenville, South Carolina federal criminal court matter on June 20, 2003. Gabriel MacEnroe remains at large and is being sought by law enforcement even though members of the bank are continuing to be arrested and imprisoned.
The following report provides an inside look into what transpired with what types of transactions, amounts of money, by whom, and when various activities concerning the bank took place over the course of nine (9) years, which is far more background than even the U.S. government has to prosecute their current federal case with concerning the members of the bank.
Former founder of FIBG, Ltd. (Brink) names-names, dates, as well as personal exasperations he went through during the entire ordeal of trying to save his bank and their investors and depositors from serious external events.
Until now, financial business professionals around the world could only guess at what was actually happening, insofaras who took the money, by what clever devices and means were used, and what all was done to try and save the bank from total collapse, which is still being looked at from a variety of different angles today by reporters who are doing their best to sell sensationalized news, and not go on to report what actually happened and why.
The following report, describes how former founder of F.I.B.G., Ltd. viewed what he did:
Statement of Van A. Brink in the form of an approximate chronological narrative of notable events in the histories of Fidelity International Bank Incorporated (Nauru) and First International Bank of Grenada Limited:
JUNE/JULY 1996 -- Ms. Cynthia J. Hastey, Mr. Gilbert A. Ziegler, Mr. William Abraczinskas and Mrs. KerryLee Abraczinskas entered an informal partnership to form or obtain an offshore bank.
AUGUST (11?), 1996 Hastey purchased sole beneficial interest in Fidelity International Bank, Incorporated (Nauru) from Mr. Edward Ziegler (E. Ziegler) a client of Premier Corporate Services, Ltd. (British Columbia). Premier Corporate Services and a sister company, Premier Management Services, were operated, so far as we could tell, according to the instructions of Mr. Jerome Schneider.
Hastey appointed me (then G. Ziegler, no known-to-me relationship to E. Ziegler) as Executive Director of Fidelity. The Abraczinskas' worked with the bank on an informal basis, looking for investment opportunities for the bank.
The balance of August and the month of September 1996 was spent in attempting to negotiate with Premier Corporate Services for delivery of the banking license purchased and the fulfillment of its side of the contract to open corporate accounts for Fidelity under the management control of Hastey's designated administrator. Fidelity began its operations (accepting deposits, investing funds) in October 1996.
NOVEMBER or DECEMBER 1996 Legacy Trust Company, Ltd. (Nevis) was formed. Legacy offered a monthly newsletter called Life Offshore to which individuals could subscribe for $29.95/year. Subscribers had the opportunity (not the requirement) to activate a spend-thrift trust (referred to as Private Legacy Trust PLT) in which subscribers could individually designate beneficiary status for US $150 and make further contributions whenever desired. Additionally, subscribers (or anyone) could earn commissions by newsletter subscription sales. For those subscribers who chose to sell subscriptions to Life Offshore, should one of those new subscribers in the future decide to activate one or more PLT positions, Legacy would credit bonuses to individual PLT account(s) of the subscriber who sold the subscription(s).
Legacy deposited its newsletter subscription receipts in the Life Offshore account with Fidelity. Legacy deposited its trust activation receipts or additional corpus contribution receipts in the omnibus PLT account with Fidelity.
In 1998 Legacy and the PLT program came under fire by several states attorneys general in the United States. Oregon, not being able to figure out what else to do, referred the matter to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC brought in the US Attorneys office and the FBI to investigate. The US Attorneys office empanelled a federal grand jury. Since I've gone into that story at length in other writings, I wont do so here, but to say that rather than enter protracted legal contentions over what Legacy believed it had every legal right to do, Legacy shut down the PLT program and offered all participants a full refund.
The program was given rebirth as the Given In Freedom Trust (GIFT). Entry positions were given away. A revised multi-level matrix was devised, based on an initial corpus contribution of $3.00 to each GIFT position registered with $7.00 being spread through the registrants upline to their corpus accounts. No cash commissions were paid. Corpus balances earned 7% per annum and the earnings were available for distribution. The program grew to some 250,000 registered participants from 199 countries as of July 2000 (last report I received), with hundreds of thousands of applications received but not data entered.
Part of the negotiation with the party arranging for large assets to be assigned to First Bank was that First Bank would underwrite the GIFT operational expenses and the required corpus contributions for registrants. Up to $1 billion was to be allocated for this, out of incomes generated through the hypothecation of assets and placement of funds, such as is described later in this text in discussions concerning Sherwood/Chadwick.
The US Attorney, FBI and Federal Grand Jury expanded the PLT investigation to Fidelity and First Bank. As of this writing (November 15, 2001), that investigation continues. To my knowledge no indictments have been forthcoming against any bank shareholder, director or officer.
NOVEMBER 1996 Schneider closed the corporate account Fidelity had with Royal Bank of Canada, when Fidelity refused to sign a management contract with his firm.
Fidelity contracted with Pittsburgh attorney Joel Nagel (Nagel & Goldstein) to form Fidelity Management Corporation (Belize) and to establish banking relationships for Fidelity in Belize.
Schneider discovered that Fidelity Management Corporation was not registered in Belize and filed or saw filed an informal complaint with the Belize central bank. Apparently, Nagel had handed the work to the wife of an attorney-friend in Belize on his all-expenses-paid trip to Belize, the wife had neglected to hand it to her husband and the corporation was never recorded in Belize. Relying on confirmation from Nagel, Fidelity printed corporate information showing mail service at a company in Belize that didn't exist. Fidelity left Belize. Fidelity also terminated the services of Nagel & Goldstein.
Schneider called to see if Fidelity didn't wish to reconsider appointing his Canadian firm as Fidelity's manager. Fidelity declined.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1996 Fidelity contracted with a Boston-area legal services provider, Mr. Ralph Sherman, to find a way for Fidelity to legally receive mail in some offshore jurisdiction. He recommended a jurisdiction and a firm in that jurisdiction with which he was familiar. Contracts were written and executed quickly and bank information was reprinted accordingly, noting mail receipt occurring at a secretarial services firm in Barbados.
International Depositors Reinsurance Corporation, Ltd. (Nevis) dba International Deposit Insurance Corporation (IDIC) was formed. Fidelity rented separate paper assets that IDIC would have the specific authority to liquidate, should Fidelity ever fail to meet its obligations to its depositors. Sherman had a management company (Azaria Financial Services) that performed the management services for IDIC.
The party through whom we initially rented assets for IDIC cover suggested I contact Mr. Robert John Skirving, as he thought Skirving might be helpful to me in the development of the bank. I put that off for a couple months, before asking the Abraczinskas' to make contact with Skirving, since they lived within a few miles of each other.
FEBRUARY 1997 Schneider discovered that Fidelity now had a relationship with a Barbados secretarial firm for receipt of mail and filed or saw to it that an informal complaint was filed with the Barbados central bank. The mails were frozen at the secretarial service center while the central bank investigated. Schneider called to see if Fidelity didn't want to reconsider and appoint his Canadian firm as the banks manager. Fidelity declined.
Sherman introduced Fidelity to American International Management Services Ltd. and American International Bank Ltd. of Antigua. Fidelity signed a management contract with AIMS. Those services came with a correspondent account for Fidelity at AIB.
SPRING/SUMMER 1997 Mr. Douglas C. Ferguson took over as Executive Director for IDIC and set up its administrative offices in Nevis.
SPRING/SUMMER 1997 Mr. Gerard Beeman located separate hard assets that Fidelity could rent for its self-insurance program administered by IDIC.
SUMMER/FALL 1997 Bill and KayLee Abraczinskas sold their claim to beneficial interest in Fidelity to Hastey and Ziegler for $90,000 (as I recall), and applied for and were granted a Class I Grenada offshore banking license under the name GlobalLink. That license was after several months revoked (prior to its opening) when GlobalLink failed to demonstrate capitalization. The Abraczinskas' had lost interest in doing anything with GlobalLink when they became involved in a Commonwealth of Dominica bank that was taking over American International Bank in Antigua.
I made personal contact with the Skirvings and invited them for a personal get-acquainted visit.
Ms. Rita L. Brunges was hired to assist in managing the tracking of Fidelity transactions. She later was promoted to Chief Financial Officer and Director. Brunges was her married name and she had been divorced for about a dozen years when she decided to legally change her last name from Brunges to Regale (in 1998 or 1999, I cant remember which). Bob Skirving was hired as a Director for Fidelity at about the same time (same week, I think).
Working through AIMS as Fidelity's management company had proven extremely difficult accounts were never kept up to date, accounting statements always inaccurate, requested outgoing transmissions were inexplicably delayed for days or weeks, etc. We decided we needed a Class I banking license so that we could have an office onshore in the jurisdiction of license and manage our own affairs.
AUGUST-OCTOBER 1997 Fidelity applied for a Class I offshore banking license in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. In late-September Sherman called to say he had met Mr. Michael Creft of the Grenada Ministry of Finance, that Creft was the one in charge of Grenada's offshore sector and had assured Sherman that if we submitted a banking license application in Grenada, it would be acted upon swiftly. Sherman recommended that we retain Mr. Anselm Clouden as Grenada counsel to form the corporation and submit the banking license application. We did.
First Bank was incorporated on October 2, 1997, and was licensed as a Class I Offshore Bank on October 9th.
The bank license application preparation fees and attorney fees in St. Vincent were recovered in part from SVG attorney Mr. Stanley Stalky John, were resituated with another SVG attorney, Mr. Olin Dennie, who agreed to open a company called Fidelity Management & Trust, Ltd., through which Fidelity's depositors could direct funds to Fidelity, and we proceeded with the Grenada process of proving capitalization, etc.
OCTOBER 1996 MARCH 1998 Bill and KerryLee Abraczinskas, Bob and Missi Skirving and Gerard ("Gerlad") Beeman introduced Fidelity to a number of business relationships, including (among others):
--(Abraczinskas') Mark and Crissy Donnelley, who were working with a licensed stock-options broker who mentored Mr. Wade Cook and Mr. Tony Robbins in how to make money through short-term plays in stock options. Fidelity made between 5% and 18% per month for several months running -- on funds placed under Donnelley's management in this way. There came a month when Fidelity suddenly lost 20% of its funds under Donnelley's management. Upon inquiry it was revealed that Donnelley had quit following the recommendations of the small-circle-famous guide, believing he then understood how to achieve higher yields and didn't wish to be limited.
-- (Skirvings introduced to Abraczinskas) Daniel C. Rodius, of Resource Enhancement, Inc. (source of the now infamous ruby and of the Aristocrat Endeavor Fund shares).
-- (Skirvings introduced to the bank, then I introduced to Beeman) Preston Pinkett and attorney Floyd Anderson, who brought a quick-turn transaction on diamonds importing and later brought Del Valley Grain, a company in Texas importing and exporting grain from/to Mexico.
-- (Skirvings introduced to Abraczinskas) William Telander, then holder of the patent-pending formula for gold extraction enhancement, and his associates, Dr. Guang Lin (New Jersey, USA inventor of the formula) and the late Dennis Christie, a former Certified Public Accountant.
-- (Skirvings introduced to Abraczinskas) Energy International, Inc., of Phoenix, Arizona. EII had a suitable physical site to text the gold ore enhancement formula and to develop a pilot plant operation.
-- (Skirvings) The late William E. Siegfried and his associate, Armstrong M. Mertyl. Siegfried and Mertyl were experienced traders of bank paper and allegedly opened accounts for Fidelity. Siegfried also saw assigned to Fidelity some $40 billion in US gold reserves from Consolidated Fusion Technologies/Wellman Mining Corp. (Walter R. Wellman of Alpine, Utah and Midvale, Utah) and introduced the concept of the bank writing Documentary CDs based on assigned hard assets the bank would hold.
After Siegfried died, Mertyl, as authorized signatory for Legend Investment Trust, put forward to First Bank $5 million in bonds from a company called South Kensington something, as collateral to secure a loan of $100,000. The bonds were set for maturity in 2003. That loan was due to be collected when I resigned.
-- (Skirvings) Mack Obioha, another experienced trader who opened accounts for Fidelity.
-- (Skirvings) Harvey R. (Rick) Kaufman. Kaufman had been Chairman of a seven-branch savings and loan in California, was founder of the Pioneer Chicken franchise, etc.
Other miscellaneous deals I remember from that era:
A loan of $250,000 to Shasta View Golf Village in the summer of 1997 for construction of model homes. The loan was secured by a separate Lake Shasta fronting property that was owned free and clear and appraised at $1-million.
The purchase of $100,000 in shares (34,000 shares, as I recall) in Automated Telecommunications Inc. This was in the days of Fidelity. The shares increased dramatically in value and we later sold 10,000 shares and recovered our full investment. The company later changed names to Presto Telecommunications. On the basis of having advanced about $100,000 to a Mr. William R. Davis in traveling expenses on various projects, he separately delivered about 95,000 shares in Presto to First Bank.
There were several trial placements with funds managers specializing in stock trading, options trading, and commodities trading (including currency). This was in addition to the banks primary focus on acquiring and utilizing larger assets. In this latter respect, in addition to the Seigfried placement of some $40-billion in mining reserves with the bank, a Dr. William McKnight, via a company called Protex Properties, placed some $67-billion in appraised Mexican communal lands in the Baja with Fidelity (later moved from Fidelity to First Bank), a project that had taken him some eight years to assemble among Mexican tribal elders, provincial governors and Mexican federal authorities. We separately worked back and forth with Seigfried and McKnight (and with Beeman and some of his hard asset clients) on issuing Documentary Certificates of Deposit on the basis of the bank being assigned all right title and interest so that it could issue the instruments, although this was on a trust/assets under management basis, not on an owned asset basis (as was done with Sherwood/Chadwick and some others, later).
The difference was that those who placed these assets with the bank in the first instance were issued Documentary Certificates of Deposit for the entire amount of the placement (thus assets and liabilities of the bank were equal with no net gain to the bank in assets, although fees and a percentage of profits upon the utilization of the assets were to be earned by the bank). This constituted a trust/assets under management basis relationship, as the assignments could be recalled by returning the Documentary CDs.
In the latter instance, no offsetting debt instrument/obligation of the bank passed to the assignor of assets, thus leaving the bank with a net growth in asset strength and the original holder having the future benefit of a share of related earnings via a joint venture agreement.
In all (between the two systems) Fidelity/First Bank acquired about $230-billion in assets, but only $65.5-billion in net assets via the latter program involving the swap of debenture form profits (and some depositor cash and joint venture agreements) for the outright assignment of assets on a no demand/no return basis.
APRIL 1998 OCTOBER 1999
We formed Asset Research and Development Association, Ltd. in Nevis in March or April 1998, I think. It was utilized for paying commissions on referred term cash deposits made at Fidelity.
First Bank began receiving deposits in April 1998 with a skeleton staff in Grenada. In May and June Regale and some assistants and Ziegler moved to Grenada. The Government of Grenada, through Creft, expressed its concerns over so many ex-pats moving to Grenada, when the Government wished to see Grenadians employed so much as possible in its offshore industry. First Bank put an emphasis on hiring and training Grenadians for the day-to-day operations of the bank. The staff grew to about 50 Grenadian employees vs. two in-office ex-pats as of when I resigned in 1999.
In July/August 1998 I legally changed my name from Gilbert Allen Ziegler to Van Arthur Brink. To accomplish this Creft referred me to Larry Barnabe, who was the sole approved representative of Grenada's second citizenship program.
In moving to Grenada it was our management plan to keep the high yield deposit business in Fidelity and to service Fidelity via management services and a correspondent relationship at First Bank. Barnabe encouraged a total move of all deposit business away from Fidelity and into First Bank. I finally relented.
Barnabe was an organized businessman with a credible presentation package for everything to do with offshore. I offered to hire him. He wasn't interested in working for anyone, but would consider joint venture partnerships. He also introduced me to Mr. Lauriston F. Wilson, Jr. (Wilson & Company) in August 1998, recommending him as a reputable local accountancy firm.
The Nevis ARDA became a Grenada ARDA with Granite Registry Services (GRS) and Offshore Educational Institute (OEI) also formed as subsidiaries of a joint venture between Barnabe's Granite Holdings, Ltd. and First Banks First Acceptance Corporation. Later Business Services Center (BSC) and Emerald One Investments were also added to the joint venture. Still later, Phoenix Funding, Ltd. and its holding of a company with an offshore/internet gaming license was added (I cant remember the gaming company's name, but Kaufman had been involved in its acquisition).
For the first several months of operations all First Bank CD receipts were invested in National Bank of Argentina CDs, purchased at substantial discounts. This was done through Michael D. Shuda of Porterhouse-Pierson America, Inc. and Porterhouse-Pierson International (or maybe it was Pierson-Porterhouse, my memory isn't certain on that). In all, I think maybe $4-6 million was thus invested.
In July/August 1998 First Bank went through the process of absorbing most of Fidelity (all depositor accounts and liabilities, along with the vast majority of the banks assets, leaving enough to have Fidelity's license remain credible and in good standing).
Later in 1998 Barnabe introduced me to Ms. Marion Suite, Esq. She was working for Republic Bank (home office in Trinidad and Tobago). Republic was just completing its take-over of National Commercial Bank (Grenada's largest commercial bank) and the staff of the small Republic office in Grenada was uncertain as to their future. I hired Suite as Director of Acquisitions.
The strategy was to acquire assets in exchange for low-yielding CDs, then mortgage or hypothecate the assets and place the funds in an account administered by a US bank that offered relatively high interest enough to meet the debt service on the loan against the asset and full service on the CD, as well as a return a profit to the bank over and above that so that the asset literally paid for itself while making an additional profit for the bank. Under this program two properties were acquired: a sound recording studio facility in Trinidad & Tobago, and an art collection. Suite was not successful in obtaining underlying financing against either asset, thus a program by which assets could in essence purchase themselves never really got off the ground.
Over a period of several months the Skirvings introduced David Rowe, Rick Kaufman, Richard Downes, DuSean Berkich and Mark Kennedy to the bank. Rowe, Downes, Kaufman and Berkich were each made directors, although not simultaneously.
Kennedy accepted to spearhead the World Investors Stock Exchange (WISE) project, with Robert Osborne as Vice President. As part of his duties at WISE Kennedy designed and operated the private debenture trading system for First Banks private corporate clients. WISE took its fees via debentures and so did First Bank. WISE also developed a platform for offshore companies to sell shares and have them traded on WISE, such shares being backed by Stock Value Bank Guarantees sold by First Bank. The last I heard (Spring 2000) was that about $1-million in shares had been sold by companies publicly listed on WISE. In the spring of 1999 Kennedy resigned from WISE, Osborne succeed him as President of WISE, and Kennedy became Chief Operating Officer and was named to the Board of Directors for First Bank.
After a couple months (in November 1998, I think), I asked Rowe to resign from the Board, as he was forming Cambridge International Trust (later to become Cambridge International Bank) and I viewed that to be a conflict of interest. Upon his resignation I added Suite to the board. Several months later I also asked Kaufman to resign, when he decided to form New London Investment Bank as a correspondent of First Bank. After I resigned I later heard that Regale had become a director both for Electra Finance Bank and for Oxford Investment Bank. Had I known that at the time, I also would have asked for her resignation. By the time I found out, she had already resigned as CFO and Director for First Bank.
I think it was October or November 1998 that Downes introduced the bank to Sherwood Investments (Bahamas) Ltd. and to Chadwick Investments, Ltd. I can't remember the exact sequence of instruments acquired but the process entailed First Bank trading its debenture form profits and cash to Sherwood and Chadwick for assignments of large banking or other cash-equivalent instruments.
First Bank also entered into joint venture agreements with Sherwood and Chadwick, agreeing to split the working the assets revenues on a 50/50 basis. On this basis First Bank acquired (over the period of Fall 1998 through the Spring 1999) some $60-billion in large instrument assets, including $3.8-billion in Dia-Ichi Kangyo cheques, $8.7-billion in a Union Bank of Switzerland instrument, $500-million in a Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi letter of credit, $300-million in pre-1935 US currency held in Taiwan (i.e. not drug money), boxes containing a minimum of $10-billion in miscellaneous instruments, such as US Treasury Bonds, and $47-billion in gold bullion held in Bank of Japan, and several hundred million in smaller bank instruments from China.
IDIC corporate counsel, Gerald Burton, reviewed various asset documentation packages and independently satisfied himself as to the authenticity and sufficiency of the validity of First Banks claim to the assets and IDIC approved these assets as more than adequate to replace the rented assets that had been arranged through Gerard Beeman, whereupon First Bank terminated those lease arrangements.
Sherwood/Chadwick were concerned with First Bank pledging its control of the assets to IDIC by way of deposit protection. I flew to Vancouver B.C. to meet with Sherwood/ Chadwick personnel (late January/early February 1999). I offered to undo everything with them they hand back what had been received from First Bank and First Bank hand back what had been assigned by them and we part as friends. They elected to continue the relationship and made additional assignments.
David Marchant unleashed his monthly attack on Van Brink, First Bank, IDIC, and WISE in late December 1998/early January 1999. The British Columbia banking supervisor issued a Cease & Desist Order against First Bank in early February for something Rowe/Cambridge were involved in with a referral source who was encouraging individuals to move funds out of a Canadian pension plan for deposit at Cambridge. I initially tended to blow those things off as minor distractions. Sherwood/Chadwick gave the go-ahead to place with Grenada a $50-million First Bank guarantee, based on some of the smaller bank instruments that had been assigned through Sherwood/ Chadwick.
The total of deposits at First Bank, including accrued interest to that date, was in the low $40 millions. I didn't see (and still don't see) that a B.C. banking supervisor can legally order a licensed Grenada bank to cease and desist from using the words deposit and trust in its printed literature and other such nonsense.
Desiring good relations with Sherwood and Chadwick, First Bank agreed to the initial suggestion of placing the $500-million BOTM letter of credit for trading through a company called Mutual Assets. The resulting trading roll out to First Bank (that it would share 50/50 with Sherwood or Chadwick I cant for certain remember which, but I think Sherwood) was to be $5-billion in the first year and likewise yearly for a total of five years. Contracts were drawn and executed. Skirving signed as Director and President of First Bank. The instrument was hypothecated and the credit line put into trade with proceeds to be flowing to Mutual Assets, Ltd. and from Mutual to First Bank.
On the basis of the anticipated roll-out First Bank agreed to underwrite the Given In Freedom Trust program (successor to the Legacy Trust PLT program in Nevis), a program that by last report I received (July 2000) had 250,000+ account participants from 199 nations and a backlog of possibly 600,000 additional accounts to be entered into the system.
A problem arose in the First Bank/Mutual Assets transaction when (by all reports we later received) Mutual Assets somehow diverted the asset to secure a line of credit in favor of Mutual Assets principals only and didn't bother to include First Bank in the distribution of trading profits. BOTM got upset, believing it wasn't receiving fair consideration, Sherwood/Chadwick got upset (they were the ones who had sources of inside information on what was occurring), and the whole deal was frozen and Mutual Assets reportedly principals whisked off to jail before First Bank even had wind that something was wrong.
How long did the trading occur before it was frozen? What happened to the resulting trading profits? I don't know and was never able to find out. We received through a Sherwood/Chadwick source with backdoor contacts to those who controlled all of trading that the trading based on that instrument had commenced.
One month later we were expecting our first large proceeds payment and had received no reasonable communication from Mutual. We inquired again of this Sherwood/Chadwick source. Again, the confirmation came that trading was still taking place and that this was evident by how they could see, electronically, the funds moving.
Two months later we still weren't in receipt of any funds and made our backdoor inquiries again. Same report.
It was about midway through the third month that we received through this same source the report that the trade and all accounts related to it had been frozen, etc. First Banks account receivable in that frozen transaction I would estimate at a gross of between $500 million and $1 billion (that it would need to split 50/50 with Sherwood or Chadwick. I failed to note this on my hurried notes to Balls DRAFT audit report (dated July 29, 2000, but finished on July 31, 2000, according to my computer document log). Noting that much in accounts receivable would have had a most significant impact on the balance sheet and on the statement of profit and loss.
Based on the signed contracts and the independent verification that trading had commenced, First Bank had proceeded to make some relatively minor (vs. what was to be received) stock or outright company acquisitions that were arranged by Berkich, who had been appointed Director of Corporate Development. The acquisitions were of several million dollars worth of stock in Cold Tap Marketing, owner of a patented tap that could be applied to room-temperature beverage containers and deliver them drawn at the tap but now chilled to the desired temperature, Airtime Technologies, developers of a system of stored value and debit or transfer abilities (sort of a combination of debit cards and Western Union) and of a company named Vic Wholesale, a equipment supply company with contracts with Sams Club (related to Wal-Mart). These acquisitions had to be aborted about 33% into the transactions, due to non-receipt from Mutual Assets, Ltd. The acquisitions were sound investments long-term, but provided no immediate income possibilities it was fine, based on the huge sums we were certain we would be receiving in the Mutual Assets, Ltd. partnership, but in no way a prudent investment for the bank apart from that.
This acquisition abortion was a great offense to Berkich, although I attempted to point out that walking away from a purchase contract simply means the selling party may keep receipts to date as liquidated damages and still has the property to sell, that the seller isn't much damaged we were the ones experiencing real loss. In that there was no immediate possibility of positive cash flow from the acquisitions, we were better off to call it a day and wish them well.
Berkich also arranged for the renting of some balance sheet enhancement items from First Bank, payment for which had been $300,000 worth of stock in Global Gourmet Investments (manufacturers of Kaluha brand cookie dough, that is marketed through the Wal-Mart stores). Those shares, according to Balls DRAFT report of April 30, 2000, were then worth several million dollars.
While I was off to Africa to look at acquiring commercial bank, Berkich prevailed upon Suite and combined they prevailed upon Skirving so that in unison they could prevail on Regale to convert the purchase contracts to short-term CDs that would be due in full in 30, 60, 90-days.
I was still in Africa when one of the larger lump sum CDs came due. Regale called me in a panic, not being able to meet it along with all other obligations at the moment. I couldn't understand her panic, as it was a purchase contract and I had already instructed that we forfeit the earnest money applied and walk away. She said I didn't understand and then proceeded to explain to me what had happened in my absence. I was furious.
The next day I was contacted by Skirving to meet him and Berkich in Egypt regarding opening a representative office. I let him have it with both barrels on the Cold-Tap, et al purchase contracts that had been converted to lump sum CDs. I went to Egypt determined to drop the axe on both Skirving and Berkich, as that unilateral decision they had undertaken potentially undermined everything else I was doing. I ended up terminating neither, but we did come to a clear meeting of the minds. Which puts us now ahead of the story.
The affair with Mutual put First Bank in mind to take physical custody of the assets, such as the gold bullion, the boxes filled with instruments and the $300-million in pre-1935 US currency. We inquired of sources in Grenada on where we could locally acquire vaulted, guarded, fortified safekeeping. Grenada had no facilities to accommodate such.
Meanwhile, the monthly rampage of David Marchant in Offshore Alert continued and was being picked up by the major dailies in the United States and Canada. In March 1999 we began the Wilson & Co. legal saga, having to take them to court to recover the banks books and records.
I inquired of a well-respected local source about who Wilson really was and why he would turn on a client that way in siding with and playing right into the hands of Marchant. I was met with an incredulous chuckle that someone like me could still be so na?ve. Wilson was the former Accountant General of Grenada with ties to the CIA that were commonly known locally. My source said he'd check it out with some of his sources and would also check out Marchant. He reported back that according to a CIA section chief, both Wilson and Marchant were on Caribbean covert ops payroll. I checked Marchant out through another source that confirmed that Marchant was on covert ops payroll, but for the DEA, not the CIA. Following my resignation another group reportedly approached Kennedy offering proof that Marchant was on NSA payroll, that First Bank and myself had been declared a risk to the national security of the United States and that a governmental effort was underway to publicly discredit myself and the bank. For $2-million, this group would arrange for the public exposure of these facts. Reportedly, the Board advanced a first $250,000 installment on that offer, providing cancelled checks proving a relationship between Bank Crozier and the NSA (Crozier was a Grenada offshore bank that continually was demanding of Creft the revocation of First Banks license) and with Crozier paying Marchant. Reportedly, Kennedy showed those items to Creft, who went and waved them in the face of Crozier executives, who then wanted a private meeting with Kennedy to put the matter to rest quietly.
Through Rowe I had been introduced to Stephen Richardson and John Myburgh and the company Atlantic-Pacific something. Rowe said he didn't have the capacity to help them in their projects and suggested that perhaps First Bank could. One of their projects was in setting up an offshore sector for the Government of Palau. They proposed First Bank help fund that to the tune of about $200,000 on a joint venture basis in which the JV company would split with Palau the resulting annual registration fees for international business companies, offshore trusts, offshore banks, etc. They produced letters from Palau officials inviting them to do that and virtually guaranteeing such a future financial arrangement. We proceeded on that project, although Richardson and Myburgh could never seem to get the ball into motion at which point I brought in Barnabe and he suggested also involving a London barrister named Lawrence Jones to help wrap it up. First Bank agreed and sent Barnabe and Jones to Palau with Richardson and Myburgh. The Palau negotiations seemed to be proceeding well, when Myburgh said there was a commercial bank having difficulties in Uganda that maybe First Bank could help. I said no way was I flying off to Uganda without a credible written invitation.
Within days I received a credible invitation. So Kennedy and I took off for Uganda to see if there wasn't something First Bank could do to rescue Co-Operative Bank (dozens of branches throughout the country and about 250,000 depositors). They needed additional capitalization of $4.5-million, according to a report (that Co-Operative Banks shareholders contested as inaccurate) received from Uganda's central bank. Of particular interest and motivation to us was a huge underground vault facility at the headquarters branch of Co-Operative Bank. Upon examining that facility Kennedy (who had become COO for First Bank) pointed out that the Co-Operative vault would be perfect for First Bank taking physical custody of some of the large assets. I agreed, and Kennedy flew to the Philippines to make arrangements for shipping the boxes and some gold bullion that was also there. Meanwhile arrangements for the shipping of the pre-1935 currency were also being made on the Sherwood/Chadwick side of things, allegedly arranging cargo plane transport from Taiwan to Bombay and from Bombay to Africa.
Not wanting to miss out on a perfect opportunity for an excellent underground vault facility, I structured First Banks offer at $10-million in additional capitalization for Co-Operative Bank. The capital was to be provided in stages, the first stage being a quickly-staged rollout of $5-million to more than take care of what Bank of Uganda (the central bank) claimed was the deficiency in Co-Operative capital, following up in the second year with an additional $5-million in capital contributions.
The late Governor of the central bank rejected the offer without looking at it, explaining that he and the Minister of Finance had already accepted a bids from other local banks that wished to cannibalize Co-Operative Bank, dividing its assets among themselves and leaving Bank of Uganda to settle up with depositors (BOU operating a deposit insurance program guaranteeing account holders up to 3-million Uganda shillings each, about $2,000 at what was then the exchange rate now it amounts to about $1,700 at current exchange rates incidentally, BOU is completing payments to depositors on another failed Uganda bank that failed previous to Co-Operative Bank, it now being about three years after the failure).
Uganda's Parliament was not at all pleased with the late Governor of BOU or with the Minister of Finance in the Co-Operative Bank affair. Both the Chairman and the Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on National Economy urged me to stay in Uganda insisting that the Co-Operative Bank decision would be reversed and both convinced rural Ugandans were better off with Co-Operative Bank in operation than with it removed from the financial sector.
Believing all of that to be true I arranged to purchase a residential property featuring two executive homes, having learned by experience that the coming and going of First Bank executives would prove more economical and efficient having homes with kitchens available, rather than Executive Suites in hotels with room service. It was also urged that First Bank demonstrate financial capacity by making another investment in Uganda. Another property was purchased.
In June 2000 I negotiated sales of these properties, as the properties did constitute a drain on the bank for the monthly expenses related to their maintenance.
With cargo planes arranged on stand-by (literally sitting on the airfield with the pilots in nearby hotels waiting for flight instructions) we couldn't wait however many months it would take for Parliaments argument with the central bank over the Co-Operative Bank situation to be worked out, so I located a large warehouse complex with a foot-thick high perimeter walls and razor wire on top of the walls, installed security sensors and other visible and invisible electronic surveillance systems as well as armor-plated the interior walls, ceiling and floor of one of the warehouse complexes easily accessible (but who'd ever guess it) interior buildings, lined up national security arrangements, including top secret airport clearances and military escort capability so that we could quickly proceed, daily reports being received from several quarters that shipments were eminent.
By the time Parliament got around to hearings on the Co-Operative Bank situation, the late Governor of the Bank of Uganda had dug up some negative articles about me and First Bank and pointed to them as reason for why the offer of capital from First Bank had been rejected, not mentioning that at the time the offer was presented and not looked at, he and the Minister of Finance had already determined to see the bank cannibalized by a few of Uganda's other banks and had opened the sealed bids of these other banks the day prior (per what the late Governor had told me the morning when I presented the offer).
Within a couple days of first landing in Uganda Myburgh also introduced me to Willy Mishiki of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mishiki explained economic conditions in his country and urged me to write a plan for the economic redevelopment of DRC (formerly Zaire).
So was born the Union Reserve System and the African Union Reserve System, relying on $10 billion in asset backing from First Bank. AURS was structured as a trust with the beneficial parties being the government of DRC (once they got around to holding democratic elections again), First Bank (to assure its recovery of its initial asset placement) and Atlantic-Pacific (for having made the initial introductions). URS was also structured as a trust, but the beneficiaries being the respective governments that would choose to participate and First Bank.
From July 1999 to January 2000, a total of four agreements were written, three being humanitarian aid agreements on projects suggested by one of the rebel factions, by the largest civil society, and by the 50 tribal kings of DRC with First Bank as the funds provider and Union Reserve System as the funds administrator. Additional negotiations were underway with one other rebel faction with offers of negotiations made to the other main rebel faction and to the government itself. Mishiki had stated that if Id write the plan he would see it accepted by all warring factions and with civil societies and the tribal kings.
In August 1999 Skirving and Berkich were interested in seeing opened for First Bank a representative office in Cairo. I flew to meet with them and several businessmen intent on the project. We didn't proceed with the representative office proposal, but did enter into a joint venture with one of the parties in which he put up $300-million in European bank instruments and First Bank matched that amount. The other party was to arrange for hypothecation and placement. That play was set in motion. The other party chose to utilize a Grenada IBC called Sunset Shores as a joint venture partner in Eastlink, another Grenada IBC. I can't remember if First Banks half of Eastlink was owned by the bank itself or by the banks solely owned subsidiary, First Acceptance Corporation. After I resigned Kennedy maintained contact and a close working relationship with that group and believed funding from Eastlink was eminent, even as of when he resigned in June 2000.
Back to the late summer of 1999, Downes and an associate received placement on behalf of First Bank of $855 million in Brazilian soya futures that had an existing insurance wrap guarantee. Those instruments were in Barclays Bank (Brazil) and had been confirmed to have been transferred to First Banks name on a bank-to-bank basis by Barclays. There is zero possibility that these assets were fraudulent or bogus in any way.
Kennedy seemed to bog down in the Philippines and I flew to meet with him and with various business contacts there, including one from Sherwood. Also at that time I met with Prince Van, majority owner of Bank of the South Pacific Incorporated (BOSPI). Prince Van and BOSPI had earlier negotiated with Downes for $500-million in First Bank guarantees under a joint venture arrangement in which Prince Van/BOSPI would have the guarantees wrapped and hypothecated for placement of funds into trade.
It was the culmination of this process (fall 2000) the wrapping, the hypothecation and the trading placement all arranged that required but First Banks confirmation of the instruments to initiate the trading, resulting in First Bank picking up its share of income from the JV in the amount of $1.1-billion. Errol Thomas was Interim Administrator of First Bank at the time Prince Van finally completed all arrangements and was ready to move, pending First Banks confirmation.
Thomas failed to respond timely in November, saying that he had to first have approval from the Minister of Finance. I called Grenada sources to go meet with the MOF to obtain that approval. The approval was given, but not until a few days after the offer was withdrawn.
Downes (who succeeded Kennedy as Chairman of the Board for First Bank) urged Prince Van to renegotiate the insurance wrap and hypothecation. He did through alternate sources. The offer was again presented to First Bank in early January 2001. This time Thomas explained that he couldn't reply because there was no one still on staff who knew how to operate the telex machine and the reply had to be by tested telex. A couple days later (January 12, 2001) Thomas presented the petition of the MOF to Grenada's High Court of Justice, requesting that First Bank be placed in involuntary liquidation and that PriceWaterhouseCoopers be named as Liquidator.
By the fall of 1999 I was convinced, with supporting suggestions by IDIC and a couple others, that the main obstacle to First Bank obtaining a qualified accountant to accept an auditing engagement on First Bank and to the bank otherwise accomplishing business as usual was my name involvement with the bank. I was encouraged to pursue the URS/AURS program full time with bank support and to elevate Kennedy to Chairman/President/CEO of First Bank. I therefore resigned October 1, 1999, (against Hastey's wishes and those of several, including Regale, Berkich, Skirvings, Barnabe, Creft and others). I remained in Grenada into November to answer questions and to complete a negotiation with one Congolese group flying to Grenada. I then returned to Uganda.
Kennedy's assigned and agreed priorities in taking over the bank were: (1) to retain an acceptable external auditor and produce the required accounting reports; (2) to proceed with negotiations on putting the banks assigned assets to work producing income (that the Skirvings and I could fully negotiate the placement of one of the assets the $855-million in soya futures -- in a months time while the press was filled with reports of depositors not being paid and also have independently confirmed that the $3.8-billion was also absolutely authentic, demonstrates that this was not an impossible assignment and that still more of the assets were by no means bogus); (3) to continue negotiating JVs with other groups for the utilization of the banks assets; (4) to complete negotiations on taking physical custody of large assets.
Kennedy said that he might need to take on some additional administrative horsepower. I told him that administrative horsepower was expensive and to be careful that he didn't become too top-heavy, but that he would be the CEO. Horsepower would be his call, not mine. He hired Michael Gabriel, Jonathan Kremner (an attorney) and two other attorneys, replaced himself as COO with Kassis and later replaced Regale as CFO with Shumbrie.
Total deposits received from Fidelity Day One through that time at First Bank were approximately $100-million, including some interest rollovers. It was just prior to my resignation, I believe hmm, maybe just afterward, I can't remember for certain -- that I had the one meeting with Gabriel MacEnroe, of which I've written about extensively. [I can expand with notes on that meeting, if someone feels it is needed in this narrative.]
Up through this time the bank had also acquired a commercial property in Grenada with a view to expanding the banks operational facilities, we had also continued to experiment with stock, options and commodity trading, but with the focus always on developing ways to utilize the incredibly large asset base we had acquired.
NOVEMBER 1999 AUGUST 11, 2000 -- Within an hour of getting on the plane leaving Grenada, I came down with what proved to be dengue fever. I arrived in Uganda barely able to walk and tote my luggage through immigration and customs. Within a week, at the urging of a Uganda doctor, I flew back to Grenada for treatments. I had lost most motor skills on my right side. My total luggage for the flight back to Grenada was my passport and my airline tickets (tucked inside my passport). I couldn't manage carrying more than that. I was one sick puppy. I was in Grenada for the balance of November and December 1999 and for about two-thirds of the way through January 2000.
When I was strong enough to stand and walk again, Kennedy had me appear for him at some OEI seminars being conducted for three or four of the correspondent banks. I checked with him to see if the status of the bank had changed, if everything was still on track. He assured me everything was very much still on track and told me of a mini-deal he has just picked up from one of the contacts he made while on his trip to the Philippines a particular group was $1 million short of $10-million necessary for a small program. He told me the man's name, Ian Hendy. I recognized it as one of the credible older men in trading circles. I asked him what the offered return was for First Bank coming up with the $1 million shortfall. The return was to be $10-million in 60-days, but with no further participation in the rest of the program. I believe this is where the partial ownership in the Chinese Free Trade Zone must have come from. Kennedy probably exchanged the $10 million return for the partial Free Trade Zone ownership, expecting far more in profits over an infinite term.
In January 2000 First Bank hosted three delegations of Congolese (some of them weren't even speaking with each other how they survived the plane trip to and from Grenada was something of a diplomatic miracle). First Bank and URS signed agreements with two of the three groups attending, with the third of the three groups insisting that I first come and meet their leader in DRC before they would sign. Following that I strolled on my Grenada beach for a few more days, then headed back to Uganda with a side-trip to Poland to pick up the naturopathic physician who saved my life in Grenada. I returned to Africa with her (she was interested in drawing together natural healers from among indigenous people to assist in the URS medical center projects), crossing paths for 30 minutes with Kennedy at Gatwick in London, and arriving in Uganda on February 4th. I remember that, because it happens to be my birthday.
At our brief Gatwick meeting Kennedy explained that he was on his way to Switzerland for a meeting to hear an offer from MacEnroe concerning assets. I rolled my eyes, muttered a Youve got to be kidding and told him that if there wasn't money on the table right then and there, not to sign away any of the First Bank assets concerning which MacEnroe had expressed an interest at our earlier meeting that if there wasn't cash on the table at signing, there never would be with MacEnroe (that was and remains my true opinion of the man).
I was booked for meetings in Burundi, Rwanda, DRC and South Africa and for a COMESA conference in Egypt. I cancelled the introductory diplomatic meetings in Burundi, Rwanda and DRC, left for South Africa, arrived back for 18 hours before leaving for the conference in Egypt, where I was scheduled to speak before representatives of 20-30 African nations to introduce the Union Reserve System concept. About 24 hours prior to the speaking engagement I was reliably informed of being the intended target of an assassination plot to be carried out before I arrived at the convention center to speak.
I changed the flight arrangements and breathed a sigh of relief upon boarding the plane departing Egypt. Some Egyptian-looking security personnel boarded the plane just prior to take off and checked, talked among themselves, double-checked, talked among themselves some more and radioed to someone off the plane, then triple-checked my ticket and passport before handing them back to me and exiting the plane without an explanation to anyone in English. Oh, yes, seeing and touching the pyramids was nice too.
Upon arriving back in Uganda I was greeted with the fact that since October 1, 1999, the Uganda service company that the bank used had not been paid any of its monthly dues and expenses, and the amount then added up to about $50,000. Among other things, the service company transacted incoming and outgoing wires for First Bank, attending to millions of dollars in total transactions each month with two full time people doing nothing but that.
I called Kennedy to see what could be the problem and was assured there was no problem. Kennedy also informed me that he had a real impossible situation on his hands with Berkich and had asked for his resignation from the Board. He said that Suite had resigned from the Board believing it a conflict of interest to be a bank Director and also corporate counsel. He further asked my permission to have a sit-down with Osborne at WISE, as he felt that unless he could come to a meeting of the minds with Osborne, things would progress more efficiently with Charles Webb as president (who was then Vice President). I agreed that he could have a sit-down with Osborne.
I double-checked with the Ugandan service company to see if there was a sufficient balance in First Banks Uganda account to cover the $50,000 in dues to the company. At that time the First Bank Uganda balance was about $2 million. A week later nothing had yet been authorized for release to the Uganda service company and they were asking me each day what was going on. I called again, even yelled that the service dues had to be attended to. The release was authorized. All things back to seeming normal.
I then called to have some funds released to me out of one of the private accounts I controlled. Debbie Antoine told me that since she had released the $50,000, Kennedy had informed her that if she ever did anything else again at my instructions, she would be fired, that anything involving me had to go through him.
I called Kennedy to see what the problem was had he told me to clear all transactions through him personally, I would have done so. He said there was no problem, but that he was just making certain staff loyalties were to him. He assured me that Antoines job was absolutely secure; he just wanted it to get around the coffee room who the new boss was. My withdrawal instructions were promptly approved. Not the way I would have approached it, but each new chief executive has to make his own way in his own style.
I then proceeded to start the administration of the First Bank/URS/Congolese projects. Every pre-approved item submitted to the bank was rejected with demands for re-writing and documenting in a new manner and when re-submitted in the new manner was still rejected again for still more revisions to format that were insisted as necessary for the release of funds. I called Kennedy to see what in the heck was going on. He suggested that Regale was attempting to lock horns with me and prove her independence from me as CFO and that he was amused by it and that I would probably need to adjust accordingly.
We went through that process for six weeks until I was scheduled to leave for a Steering Committee Meeting of the G-77 Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Developing Countries in Havana, Cuba to take Kennedy's place in presenting a proposal by First Bank that Kennedy himself authored, but was too busy to attend and present in person. On the day I was to depart Uganda Kennedy told me that the real reason none of the URS items had been approved was because First Bank had signed a statement that Van Brink was no longer involved with the bank in any way, shape or form, and that the other side of the agreement had specifically instructed that URS was to be cut off, so long as I was involved in URS and that First Banks account in St. Vincent had been frozen until the powers that be were certain that I was no longer involved.
It was becoming a surrealistic nightmare. Depositors and correspondent bankers had begun e-mailing me inquiring about what was wrong and why they weren't getting their money, was everything still safe, was IDIC still there to protect them, etc. I responded to each along the lines that to the best of my knowledge things were still secure, now adding that although there was a reported temporary hold-up at one of the servicing banks that would be resolved shortly no need to panic.
In Havana I presented Kennedy's proposal, as agreed, then summoned a BBC news journalist with a camera to announce my resignation from URS, hoping that would free First Bank up to abide by its Congolese agreements that Kennedy had insisted at the time would be no problem whatsoever.
Upon returning to Uganda I was greeted by an e-mail that I should immediately cease and desist from all communications with depositors. I replied that I would be delighted to cease, if someone would take seriously the need to stay in effective communications with those who inquired. Most of the e-mails to me seemed to begin that everyone at the bank had made himself or herself inaccessible or otherwise non-responsive to phone calls, faxes or e-mails and that the writer was starting to panic and was, therefore, writing to me to seek my personal intervention and assistance at First Bank on his/her behalf.
Separately, I exchanged a few e-mails and phone calls with Kennedy on the other matters. Kennedy informed me that he had signed and that the Board had agreed to a proposal by MacEnroe, and that I was forever cut off, but for a monthly severance allowance and permission to live in one of the Uganda homes. I asked how he and the Board could think to undertake such a decision without consulting me in any way, since I was 50% owner of the bank. He said Id have to take that up with Hastey, since as far as he was concerned and knew, she was the sole beneficial owner of the bank, but if she told him otherwise, he would honor her clarification.
I called Hastey to see what was going on. She said she didn't think she should even be talking to me, given the things she had heard from Kennedy and Regale at the March Board meeting. I asked, "What things?" and was told that I was throwing around millions as gifts to Ugandan politicians and a list of other things, that the bank was in trouble, that she just wanted to do what was right for everyone and that the Board had accepted an offer by MacEnroe to solve all of the banks problems, including a certified audit, in exchange for cooperating with him (MacEnroe) fully.
I called Kennedy back to see just what in the f**k was going on. Without addressing the nonsensical allegation about me giving away millions as gifts to Ugandan politicians, Kennedy confirmed and expounded somewhat upon what Hastey had said. He had signed an agreement with MacEnroe that the bank had no assets whatsoever and was in need of a bail out. I choked, but let him proceed. That in exchange for this agreement, MacEnroe was placing $8.7-billion in a certifiable, auditable Union Bank of Switzerland asset in the First Bank (this was an interesting coincidence, since that was the exact amount and same issuing bank for what was First Banks first assignment from Sherwood) together with an income stream to attend to all depositor liabilities, would arrange for a certified audit on the bank, that First Bank would become a project management bank for the International Monetary Fund, that he (Kennedy) would remain as its president, although he assumed that MacEnroe would be naming his own Board as the new owner of the bank and that he (Kennedy) had pledged to cooperate fully in investigations by Grenada and international law enforcement authorities in seeing me brought up on charges for fraud, gross negligence, misappropriation of funds, abuse of fiduciary capacity, etc., and that for my own protection he had instructed Bill Kassis (his new chosen Chief Operating Officer) to remove the hard drives from my computers at my Grenada residence.
I protested the removal of my hard-drives, since electronic data may be tampered with and that was the only proof I might have against possible allegations that Kennedy knew were total bullshit.
I also questioned the new owner reference. I was told that, after all, MacEnroe wasn't Santa Claus and that, of course, Hastey would be removed as owner, since it was a bail out, not a purchase of assets and good will, but she along with all other depositors would be entitled to receive her personal savings account from the bank.
I questioned the bail out notion, since a bank with what was at latest count $65.5-billion in assets and about $200-million in accrued total liabilities to depositors doesn't really fit the notion of an institution needing a bail out for having no assets. Kennedy said he had decided to agree with MacEnroe that all the assets were bogus because MacEnroe had promised to provide $8.7-billion in assets AND a certified audit for the bank.
It was no longer just becoming, it had fully become a surrealistic nightmare that would have done Rod Serling [of the "Twilight Zone"] more than proud.
I later learned that along with my computer hard drives and all paper files at my Grenada residence, Kassis also seized (allegedly on Kennedy's orders) my two privately owned used Jeeps (purchased with private funds, not with bank funds) and the vehicle of another private party as well (purchased with private funds, not bank funds). Additionally, Kassis had been in an accident with the newest of my vehicles in which the vehicle was totaled.
I went through weeks of attempted productive communications with Ferguson (then Executive Director of IDIC) and with Kennedy. Ferguson didn't appreciate being caught in-between two people he regarded as friends and stopped communicating with me.
Kennedy said that he was just implementing the decisions of the Board of Directors, and that if I didn't like it I should take the matter up with Skirving and Downes, since he was only one director and could be overridden by a vote of the other two. That was about May 1. Up to that point in time I hadn't spoken to or communicated with anyone apart from Kennedy, Hastey and Ferguson (other than with Antoine on the earlier release of the $50,000 in dues for the local Uganda service company).
I initiated e-mail and internet chat communications with the Skirvings and presented to them what I believed were the errors of the present direction the Board had approved. After several exchanges, Skirvings wanted to pull Downes into it for a three-way dialog.
Discussions were on the topics of: (1) whether the $65.5-billion in assets were in any way conceivably bogus; (2) the need for the bank to produce an audit; (3) what we could determine was the exact present financial status of the bank in terms of cash on hand; (4) whether MacEnroe would ever deliver on his weekly failed promises; (5) the future of First Banks ownership structure; (6) who could step in as CEO, if Kennedy resigned; (7) what would have to swiftly occur if the deal with MacEnroe was rescinded; (8) whether the funding deals in process as of when I left, based on the other assigned assets, were still being pursued (they had all been abandoned, but for the Eastlink deal); (9) the relationship with IDIC and the threat of an IDIC take-over of First Bank in the event Kennedy resigned; (10) the possibility of completing the arrangement with MacEnroe, based on minimal financial performance criteria.
About mid-way through May, Hastey called to ask my advice, as she was very worried about the bank. I told her that I was too and had been informally discussing with the Skirvings and Downes what to do. She asked that she and Tucker Leon Harrington be included in those internet chats, and thereafter they were.
What was formed in the next ten days was a demand letter for Kennedy to serve upon MacEnroe. In exchange for sole ownership of the bank, MacEnroe's group was to (1) make all principal and all interest to date available to depositors, leaving depositors with the option to stay with First Bank under whatever interest rate structure MacEnroe wanted to impose or to move on as they saw fit; (2) an amount of $42-million to be divided up among Hastey and all directors (including Kennedy and Regale, whom Kennedy had asked to resign, replacing her as CFO in April with a friend of his, Vince Shumbrie (sp)); (3) an amount of several million ($14-million, I think) to be placed in a trust for the benefit of the banks Grenadian staff, and (4) an equal amount to be placed in a trust for humanitarian projects in Grenada.
The letter was delivered to Kennedy. He replied by writing to the effect that Hastey should sign off on total release of ownership claim to MacEnroe and that the Board should immediately resign. Hastey replied by writing to the effect of asking Kennedy for whom he worked and why he would not deliver the letter of demand to MacEnroe as instructed, hoping Kennedy would choose to remain with the bank. Kennedy replied by writing to the effect of it being his way or the highway and giving 24 hours (I think) notice that his resignation would be effective as of that time, unless Hastey and the Board capitulated and did as instructed. Hastey replied by way of writing to the effect that she was accepting his resignation with immediate effect.
That takes us up through June 2, 2000. In the period from early February 2000, when Kennedy entered agreement with MacEnroe, to June 2, 2000, not one dollar had been wired from MacEnroe's group to First Bank. Had MacEnroe performed as promised weekly to Kennedy during that period, it would not have boiled down to the letter of demand that Kennedy refused to deliver.
Within minutes to hours of Kennedy's resignation, Kremner resigned, without notice to the Board, was seen packing boxes into a truck with intentions of leaving Grenada over the weekend. Kassis was in defacto executive control of the bank as COO, and Kennedy's friend Shumbrie (sp) was in effective financial control as CFO.
Over the weekend of June 3-4, 2000, I contacted Jones in London to see if he would be interested in accepting the post of Interim CEO for the bank. Jones agreed in principal and a conference call was arranged with Jones, Hastey, Skirvings, Downes, Harrington and myself to go over details and establish immediate priorities.
Since Jones intended to keep his legal practice in London and didn't want to dismiss staff, shut off phones, etc., but to keep them all paid, he required $50,000 per month for his services as Acting CEO. That was agreed.
Jones said that he would accept the appointment as Acting CEO, based on his disclosure to us that his motives were: (1) protecting Grenada's reputation as an offshore jurisdiction, (2) protecting the interests of depositors and making way for the full recovery of the bank, since all of his savings were also deposited there, and, if possible, (3) exonerating me from the vilification he believed Kennedy had done to my name in Grenada. No one objected to any of these motives.
We (a) reviewed what we knew of the current situation, (b) explained the elements we understood of the MacEnroe deal, © reported Kennedy's refusal to communicate forward to MacEnroe the owners and boards performance demands (no one on the Board had MacEnroe's telephone or fax numbers or mailing or e-mail address information), (d) the extreme pressure from the Government over delivery of the audit, (e) the inability of the bank to come up with a qualified auditor to accept an engagement to perform, complete and deliver an acceptable audit of the banks finances, (f) the fact that payments to depositors had dried up and that almost all efforts to achieve income seem to have been abandoned while waiting for the MacEnroe deal to fund the bank separately, (g) the urgency for generating short-term operating capital, (h) the greatly strained relationship with IDIC and the possibility that IDIC would move to take over the bank, (i) the possibility of restructuring the banks obligations to willing depositors as equity, thus relieving some of the immediate pressure upon the bank, (j) rumors we had heard of depositor lawsuits being prepared to file against the bank, (k) concern over where the loyalties of those bank administrators still on-site might be placed, and (l) the need to move with haste to salvage the situation.
On that Sunday conference call, Jones accepted the appointment of Acting CEO effective Monday, June 5, 2000, and pledged to fly to Grenada as soon as possible in the coming week. We agreed on priorities:
a. Jones said that we immediately needed to obtain from Kennedy all documents and agreements related to the MacEnroe deal. Harrington, who had been proposed as a Director for First Bank (and without resistance by the Ministry of Finance, but without notice of acceptance, either) and who had been attending and had been allowed to vote at Board meetings for months, was dispatched by the Board to Kennedy's residence to pick up the asset documentation that MacEnroe had allegedly provided to the bank and copies of all contracts between the bank and MacEnroe's group. Kennedy refused to give Harrington anything, and insisted he would only hand things over to Downes. Downes booked airline connections from British Columbia and was (together with Harrington) on Kennedy's doorstep within 36-hours. At that point Kennedy refused to turn over documentation of any kind regarding the entire MacEnroe relationship with First Bank, telling Downes that to do so would be violating his (Kennedy's) personal fiduciary responsibilities.
b. Jones asked me how much time I would need to put the banks assets to work to produce income. I told him 90 days. He said he was positive he could get 30 days from the Government and he believed he could probably get 60 days, but he wasn't at all confident of getting 90 days. We told him to do the best he could and that we would do the best we could.
The assigned assets that were in place when I resigned and handed things over to Kennedy were nowhere to be found at First Bank, so claimed remaining on-site bank executives on Monday.
The Board had another emergency telephone conference in which I recommended that we find Regale and sent her to Grenada in search of the missing documents. Jones was uncomfortable with this, given some unsubstantiated rumors he had heard concerning her. Nevertheless, the Board located and retained Regale to go in an assistant/consultant capacity, not in an officer/supervisor capacity, reporting directly to Jones and to the Board on the mission of finding and reassembling the missing documents. I also strongly advised Downes (who succeeded Kennedy as Board Chairman) to reassemble the missing asset documentation by going back to the original deeding parties and obtaining certified true copies of their original sets of documents (all had been executed with two sets of originals, one original set for each party).
Regale eventually found much of the missing documentation in a pile of trash inside the banks headquarters building. She also located all of the private corporate debenture trading records and organized them in a standing metal file cabinet for the benefit of the Ball audit. She also found minutes of a February 2000 Covenant Trust Company (Covenant was owner of WISE) in which those 100 shares were assigned 99 to Kennedy and 1 to me. When I heard that, I resigned my share in favor of the bank, as I had never been advised, nor had I consented to own shares in any company. I also sent a message to Kennedy asking him to explain on what basis he became effective 99% owner of WISE. I received no reply.
Downes obtained a certified true copy package of all of the assignments by Sherwood and Chadwick and of the $855 million assignment of Brazilian soya futures, whereupon I met Skirvings in London (on or about July 13th with Skirvings picking up my travel and lodging expenses, as I had no funds) to see what could be negotiated quickly for income to the bank.
We managed to have the $3.8 billion in Dia-Ichi Kangyo cheques confirmed/verified through banking channels involving a private consultant, John Taylor, who worked with Bank of Scotland. Taylor's offices were located in Falkirk, Scotland, though we initially met him in London.
Citing non-specific political reasons that he assured us would be best for the full recovery of the bank, Jones resigned as Acting CEO for First Bank a week or so previous to Taylor's telling us about the Bank of Scotland private confirmation of the $3.8-billion worth of yen cheques. While he had resigned, although remaining in Grenada, Jones had left his associate Butler in his place, unofficially telling us that he would continue to look over Butler's shoulders. We very much considered Jones still to be our man in Grenada, continuing to report to him almost daily on our status and progress in the UK. When we reported Taylor's discovery to Jones, his initial reaction was No shit! and he said it was imperative that Taylor meet him in Grenada as quickly as possible.
Taylor insisted on an official appointment as a consultant. I wrote it. Skirving conferenced quickly with Downes by phone then signed it and handed it to Taylor at dinner in Falkirk the evening of August 11th (I just discovered that by tracing through my computer copies of Board minutes I prepared through that era that minute appointing Taylor was created at 6:00 PM Grenich Meridian Time on August 11th). The Skirvings put the necessary airline tickets on one of their personal credit cards and Taylor took off to meet with Jones in Grenada.
What we later heard, in part from Jones and in part from Taylor, is that they met with Anthony Boatswain, MP, Minister of Finance, whereupon Jones and Taylor took off for Tokyo. What Skirvings claimed they had no knowledge of was that the booking the Jones/Taylor Tokyo travel expenses were charged to one of the Skirvings credit cards. A private controversy arose between the Skirvings and Jones/Taylor over what Skirvings said was unauthorized use of their private credit card.
The government seized control of the bank on August 11, 2000 (day 67 of the 90 I had told Jones Id need to put the bank back on track), appointing Garvey Louison as its administrator. We weren't informed of that until several days later when Jones mentioned it in a phone conversation with Skirving.
Kassis managed to survive the Jones administration, although the Board had directly instructed Jones to relieve Kassis of duties (Board minute of June 30, 2000). Kassis performed his duties assigned duties under Louison with reported gusto, seizing one vehicle not owned by the bank (mentioned earlier) under police escort and leaving the owner standing on the side of the road with a bag of groceries and no way home.
Louison's exploits and inattention to one and all soon had many depositors writing to the Minister of Finance and to the Prime Minister, demanding Louison's removal.
On or about October 13, 2000, the Minister of Finance publicly congratulated Louison on a job well done and announced that he was replacing Louison with Errol Thomas. He also announced the formation of First International Bank of Grenada 2000 Limited. FIBG2K was to take over obligations to First Bank depositors, funding same from the proceeds of bank trading, according to the press statement by the MOF.
Nancy McGuire, Press Secretary for the Prime Minister, made statements she later retracted that FIBG2K was owned and directed by the same parties that were involved in First Bank. Such statements created a fair amount of confusion among First Bank system depositors as to what was or wasn't going on. Neither Downes nor the Skirvings had any previous knowledge concerning the formation of FIBG2K, nor had Hastey, Harrington or myself. We soon learned that Jones and Butler constituted the administration of FIBG2K, but the identity/ies of the principal(s) was/were never revealed, nor was the source of the asset(s) that was/were to be utilized in the bank trading program disclosed.
Given the trip to Tokyo that quickly followed Jones and Taylor's meeting (probably sometime around August 13-15) with the MOF related to the $3.8-billion in Dia-Ichi Kangyo cheques, we suspected that these were the assets that were to be hypothecated in favor of FIBG2K, but no Board action at First Bank nor notice of any kind to First Banks ownership or directors had occurred, nor did we have any concrete evidence of on what basis FIBG2K was formed or capitalized.
Back to the July/August London trip: I assisted the Skirvings in negotiating for placement of the $855-million in insurance-wrapped soya futures for hypothecation. Anticipated rollout to the bank was well in excess of $1-billion over the following forty weeks, which the bank would split 50/50 with its joint venture partner that made the assignment to the bank.
A simple authorization/verification package needed to be completed by the bank. Skirving, as a bank Director, was there to do it, but we had just been notified that on August 11, 2000, Grenada had seized control of the bank and that Garvey Louison had been appointed administrator of the banks affairs and that all would have to be coordinated through him. We forwarded the simple authorization/verification package to Louison. Skirvings returned to the United States.
I stayed an extra four days upon request of another party who wanted to arrange a meeting between me and representatives of the Federal Reserve System who allegedly had indicated an interest in assisting First Bank, believing that their particular jobs would end at the conclusion of the Clinton administration and not being sure of being reappointed, whether Gore or Bush claimed the presidential election victory in November. That meeting never occurred, so I returned to Uganda.
Louison refused to return telephone calls, faxes or e-mails on the topic of the $855-million asset placement, whether to Skirvings, Downes or to Bettis group. I informed Ferguson at IDIC of this. He wrote to Louison volunteering for IDIC to complete the process on the $855-million package for First Bank. Louison never replied to Ferguson/IDIC but blasted me by letter, saying that he wasn't appointed by the MOF to take abuse from me or my friends like Ferguson.
Skirvings and Downes separately negotiated for smaller chunks of straight income for the bank in the approximate amount of $350,000 to $400,000. All that needed to be done was for Louison to verify bank instruments that had been issued in 1999 and to provide bank coordinates for receiving the funds. Louison refused to return telephone calls, faxes or e-mails on that matter also.
c. Jones said he knew of a qualified auditor who he believed he could get to accept and to complete the engagement. We cautioned Jones not to reveal the auditors name to anyone in Government and not even among banks personnel, as we suspected a leak in one of those places directly to Marchant and that if his identity was revealed before he completed the engagement, we doubted that the engagement would be completed at all.
Jones assured us that this would not become an issue on his selection of auditors. As it turned out, Adrian Balls name somehow did get out, and that UK Chartered Accountant came under immediate public attack by Marchant before Ball even commenced his first draft of a report.
In July (and in London) Jones introduced us to a Derrek Fowler who was said to be leaving to assist Ball in putting together the information in Grenada. A week or so later, Jones forwarded a DRAFT copy of the Ball audit report to Skirving. I spent a the better part of two days writing comments to the report, advising Jones and the Board against delivering that report to Government until it was corrected. I transmitted my comments to Jones, Ball, IDIC, and to two members of the Grenada International Financial Services Authority, as well as to Hastey, Harrington and Downes (Skirving was on hand in London, so I handed him a copy also).
Against my advice (and without Board approval), Jones delivered the initial DRAFT document to Government, which document was almost immediately put up on Marchant's web site and remains there to this date. The Minister of Finance later cited that delivered report as his justification for seizing the bank on August 11, 2000 as I attempted to tell Jones at the time would be the likely result of a report showing the bank at approximate break-even, when it was so easily provable that Balls draft report had several glaring errors that would have upped the banks net worth (even excluding assigned assets) by 20% or more, putting it well ahead of break-even.
d. I agreed to take over the role of attempting to keep IDIC up to speed and from moving to seize the bank.
e. Downes and Skirvings agreed to focus on generating immediate cash for the bank. As explained, above, they were successful in negotiating $350,000+ in immediate fee income that was rejected by Louison.
Parallel to these activities (after Downes flew to Grenada to meet with Kennedy in the unsuccessful effort to retrieve the MacEnroe/First Bank documentation package and while the certified true copy package of the Sherwood/Chadwick assignments was being prepared) Downes flew off to Malaysia for a mid-June meeting with Mr. Wong Yat Hin. Upon his arrival and initial meeting, he called to request that I urgently come to help him negotiate with Wong concerning approving project funding for First Bank. Skirvings arranged for my flight expenses on one of their credit cards (I had no available funds) and I left, joining Downes on or about June 16th.
After an all-day session on June 17th, a total of $21+ billion in project funding was agreed and approved by Wong in writing for First Bank, including a total of $510-million for First Bank itself, to be released over two stages, the first being $210-million. Wong also exchanged for preferred shares in First Bank $120-million in Bank of China CDs that one of his companies held. He also agreed to assist in the capitalization of the G77 World Trade and Development Bank, an organizational project I had picked up on May 29, 2000, subsequent to my Havana trip of late-March/early-April.
Wong's funding for First Bank was initially scheduled to roll out before July 31st, but was inexplicably held up and delayed. As of Downes last contact with Wong (within 60-days of this mid-November 2001 writing), he (Wong) remains interested in restructuring the funding of the First Bank projects.
f. Jones agreed to move quickly to being on-site at Grenada and to take care of the situation with administrative personnel then in charge. Jones discovered that on his last day Kennedy had ordered the wiring out of the bank all funds related to his personal accounts, those of his relatives and friends, etc., and that his CFO was busy attending to those details in the week that followed. Jones had those wires recalled and asked for and received the CFOs resignation.
Kennedy left the island before meeting with Jones on the matter of the MacEnroe agreement(s) and documentation. Jones requested, and the Government of Grenada complied, that a pick up and detain be put out through INTERPOL on Kennedy. Reportedly, Kennedy was found in the Bahamas and was questioned for a few hours by the FBI and was released. Kennedy has reportedly mentioned to some that he has a letter from the FBI that they are not investigating him and are not interested in investigating him in the First Bank matter.
At an April 2000 meeting of the Board, directors then present say that Kennedy produced a copy of the executed agreement for reading, that independent counsel was brought in to review it and declared that it looked legal and binding, but neither IDIC nor the directors were permitted to retain a copy of it. To this date First Banks ownership and Board has never been provided a copy of the agreement Kennedy signed with MacEnroe, nor has the alleged $8.7-billion in assets from MacEnroe's group ever been accounted for.
(g) I volunteered to help Downes write a letter to depositors explaining a possible voluntary restructuring of deposit liabilities into bank equity and outlining some options. I produced that within the first week. It went through about four revisions trying to make happy on compliance with SEC issues the last two U.S. licensed attorneys of Kennedy's remaining First Bank corporate counsel and they finally elected to resign, rather than see the final-final-final Amended version released.
This gobbled up the month of June on that front. A final-final-final-Amended-final version was released on July 3, 2000. I was invited to present and explain the offer to correspondent bankers via telephone conference calls. I responded to their written questions, statements and objections at length, attempting to explain the urgency of doing all we could right then to relieve the mounting pressure and avert an absolute calamity for all. Danny Hashimoto, a principal of and a director for Crown Meridian Bank, and some of his associates, grabbed hold of the concept and attempted to push it forward, even writing a Depositors Guide to the offer. Momentum of depositor acceptance of this proposal was building when the event of August 11th seemed to render it as moot.
[Note: In reflecting back over the events, the theories and the possibilities, I don't believe this concept is entirely moot, even at this point, which is why I suggested the concept of the Depositors International Recovery Group, Ltd. Debt can be exchanged for equity, and viably so, even at this late date perhaps, given the circumstances, especially at this late date. This, of course, is my personal opinion, not a reporting of chronological history.]
AUGUST 11, 2000 MARCH 5, 2001
Much of this history has been covered in the section on November 1, 1999 to August 11, 2000 (immediately above), as necessary detail to the related events.
We don't have much information on what Louison or Thomas did as appointees of the Minister of Finance. Our information is more on what they didn't do.
One of the items not mentioned above is the Blakemore, Jennell, Guili, et al vs. First International Bank of Grenada Limited, et al case that was filed in the Grenada High Court of Justice on August 11, 2000, and to which the presiding judge ordered a Mareva injunction against the bank for $300+ million (based on the petitioners alleged $5+ million on deposit at Sattva Investment Bank, a correspondent bank in the First Bank system).
Among things which neither Louison nor Thomas did do was attempt in any way to reach a negotiated settlement with the petitioners. I leap to this conclusion because Gordon Jennell (of Blakemore, Jennell, Giuli, et al) attempted to contact me through a mutual acquaintance after the Minister of Finance had petitioned the Court for an involuntary liquidation of First Bank.
Jennell was suggesting that they were willing to meet to negotiate a settlement so that the bank could get on with its business. I relayed back that I hadn't been CEO of First Bank since October 1, 1999, that I had experienced extreme difficulties attempting to negotiate much of anything with my successor, had somewhat better success with his immediate successor, but absolutely no success with bank officials from August 11, 2000 forward that even a successful meeting with me would likely net them zero by way of results they were seeking, apart from shaking hands.
Louison failed to respond in any way on an offer of over $1-billion in income from the $855 million in soya futures, or to the $350,000+ in net fee income that was also offered.
Thomas twice failed to respond timely to offers of $1.1-billion in income from $500-million in guarantees that had been written on the basis of First Banks asset strength. The latest failure occurring with an explanation that no one on staff knew how to operate the telex machine this explanation being given a couple days before he marched into Court on January 12, 2001 to present the Minister's petition for an involuntary liquidation of the bank.
We can observe that PriceWaterhouseCoopers had been retained as forensic auditors of the bank, two to three months previous to the Thomas presenting the Ministers petition.
We can observe that the initial Court Order appointing a Liquidator was in conformance with the Ministers request that it be the same PriceWaterhouseCoopers forensic auditors that had been retained. That Order was dated February 28, 2001.
We can surmise that PriceWaterhouseCoopers worked to manipulate the determination for Thomas recommendation to the Minister and the Ministers petition to the Court for involuntary liquidation.
We can observe that PriceWaterhouseCoopers petitioned the Court to be replaced as Liquidator by its Managing Partner/Director, Marcus A. Wide, and that the Court so ordered on March 5, 2001, backdating the Order to March 2, 2001, and ratifying all acts that had been done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers up through that March 2nd date. We don't know what those acts may have been, but I suspect it had to do with the removal at little to no liquidation benefit of the large, assigned assets.
We can read Marcus A. Wide's two reports as Liquidator that were mostly-published on the PWCGlobal web site. I have commented extensively on those reports.
We can read letters written, supposedly on behalf of Marcus A. Wide, but that clearly indicate that PriceWaterhouseCoopers is the effective liquidator and that the name Marcus A. Wide is but a nameplate dutifully referenced in their letters attempting to collect funds not even due (I've supplied such letters separately to Kim, volunteer American counsel to the Yahoo! Group SeedsoftheCore).
We can read in the writings attributed to Marcus A. Wide that when he finishes liquidating the bank, he anticipates that there will be no funds left over for distributions to depositors and other creditors, let alone to shareholders.
We can sense that somptin' just ain't right in all of this.
Subsequent to the filing of this report, news reports have continued to fly in the face of justice with wild rumors and unfounded allegations abounding.
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