Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Really, Mr Samuda?

Published:Sunday | May 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM
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Gordon Robinson, Contributor

General Secretary of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and Government of Jamaica, Cabinet member, Karl Samuda, has produced a document that begs more questions and produces few answers. As usual, obfuscation has once again trumped transparency.


1 In September of last year, persons within the JLP approached Mr Brady to see whether, through his wide network of international contacts, he could assist in facilitating the opening of discussions between the US authorities and the Government of Jamaica, and thereby, seek to resolve what had become a treaty dispute between the US and Jamaica.


Based on this opening salvo, at the time when Brady was "approached" discussions between US authorities and the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) were blocked. Apparently, US authorities were refusing to talk to the GOJ. But, like the rumour that the stork causes babies to come, we know this to be poppycock because the attorney general was already in discussions with the US. Their response to her first letter to them was dated October 2 and she wrote again on October 30.

Since there was already open dialogue on formal issues, the truth must be that, the discussions that Brady's skills were to have "opened", the discussions that the US authorities weren't entertaining, could only have been informal discussions (a.k.a. "lobbying") with a view to encouraging the withdrawal of the extradition request. It's this effort to obliterate the request to which Samuda must refer by writing that the discussions' objective was to "seek to resolve ... a treaty dispute".

And, since the lobbying was to have been done by or on behalf of the GOJ, we can indeed reasonably conclude that this is a confession that the JLP felt that the GOJ wanted to go to bat for Dudus via informal discussions. And since the GOJ is the JLP's alter ego, it should know. Somebody in or close to the JLP felt sufficiently confident to commit US$400,000 to the enterprise.


2 It was expected that Mr Brady, having served as a former secretary-general of the International Democrat Union, an organisation of world-wide centre-right parties founded in 1983 of which the JLP is an associate member, would use his vast experience in international law and politics to assist in this regard.


Expected by whom? Was this expensive and complicated international adventure taken on by a couple of well-meaning JLP members? Did they commit US$400,000 of their own personal funds? Were they members of Parliament or Cabinet? What did the general secretary of the party know? What did the leader of the party know? Why did the solicitor general of Jamaica feel he could act on Mr Brady's proposals when Brady, who was representing a private client, held no government office?

And, if this is true, why did senior party member and minister of information, Daryl Vaz, suggest that "sanctions" should be taken against Brady? All Brady was doing was using his vast international experience to carry out his privately funded retainer. For what exactly did Vaz feel that Brady should be sanctioned?


3 I am aware that Mr. Brady's firm retained the services of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips on or about October 2009, to pursue discussions with relevant officials of the government. I am advised that all payment arrangements to Manatt, Phelps & Phillips were transacted between the two firms. The government of Jamaica had nothing to do with any aspect of these arrangements."


One thing for certain: lawyers do not pay on behalf of clients out of their own pockets. So, if the client was in fact the JLP (or persons representing the party) then its general secretary should be able to tell us where the money came from. The JLP isn't a private club. Did the JLP pay Brady to facilitate this GOJ lobbying? If so, why? Since the informal discussions were intended to be GOJ's, why wouldn't the GOJ pay? Did the GOJ pay? And since Mr Samuda seems intent on making a distinction between the JLP and the GOJ, does he make a similar distinction between the Consolidated Fund and other dedicated government funds in statutory bodies or elsewhere? Exactly where did the money come from? Nobody cares who was or wasn't involved with making the "payment arrangements" between the two firms. Obviously, if money is passing between two firms, only they would be involved in THOSE payment arrangements. Please stop being cute with the Jamaican people, Mr Samuda. Who paid Brady and where did that money originate from? Who so badly wanted the extradition request withdrawn that he/she was prepared to commit US$400,000 to the effort?


4 The Solicitor-General went to Washington in December to have discussions with officials of the State and Justice Departments. This meeting was arranged through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US Embassy in Jamaica.


5 The solicitor general and the team that accompanied him met with representatives of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips at Mr Brady's invitation. The discussions were exploratory and were focused on alternative approaches that have been taken in similar treaty disputes with the US. The Solicitor-General made it clear that the government of Jamaica saw no need at that stage to engage their services but would be prepared to consider doing so should the need arise."

The solicitor general for Jamaica, on official Government business, meets with a private law firm; discusses the said official business with them; considers engaging them on the GOJ's behalf; all at "the invitation" of a private lawyer representing an unnamed private client. This is the Guy Lombardo Show!! The attorney general has subsequently said that she first heard the name MPP when Peter Phillips raised it in Parliament, so our SG was acting on the instructions of a private lawyer without any comfort whatsoever from the GOJ who is his client? If you believe that, you must either be daft or need your head examined.

And the SG made it clear to MPP that the GOJ wouldn't engage their services at that stage? But MPP was of the view that they were already engaged by the GOJ. Did not the MPP representative say to the SG "but, sir we're already engaged by your Government. We're here with meter running helping you to do the GOJ's work."?

Am I to believe that MPP simply accepted the SG's categorical refusal to engage them when MPP thought they were already engaged whilst doing nothing to clear up the confusion? And then attended the meeting with the State Department despite the confusion? At this meeting, by the way, the A.G. now says MPP performed an important task by protecting our SG from having "the wool drawn over his eyes" by the American authorities.

Clearly, the AG must consider the SG a fool. Why would he need this protection? Have we forgotten that the US authorities are our allies in the fight against transnational drug and gun running? Do we forget that we signed a Mutual Assistance Treaty not a Mutual Fool-up-each-other Treaty? What's going on?


6 The solicitor-general accepted a suggestion that a representative of the firm attend the planned meeting with the State and Justice Departments as an observer, which he did with the full approval of the State Department. "


But the State Department doesn't employ the SG. He doesn't need their approval to bring to the meeting whoever he feels is a valuable member of his team. What nonsense is this?


7 The solicitor-general, who had had no previous contact with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, was not then aware that the firm had already been retained by Brady & Company. "


But MPP knew that they were already retained. And our venerable SG says that he was introduced to MPP by Brady. Who did he think retained MPP, The Mad Hatter? The March Hare? Or the GOJ? Or did he think MPP was a good Samaritan, helping out an ailing don who had fallen by the extradition wayside?


He has had no further contact with the firm since that encounter in December.


But the firm continued to contact the State Department ostensibly on behalf of the GOJ. And our esteemed SG did nothing to warn the State Department that they were dealing with imposters.


8 As regards media reports that a Minister of Government met with State Officials and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Dr Ronald Robinson, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, while on a visit to Washington on November 20, 2009, had a brief social encounter with a representative of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips after having declined an invitation by Mr Harold Brady to attend a meeting at the State Department."


Not only does the SG take instructions from Brady, apparently the junior minister at foreign affairs also answers to Brady. His "social" encounter with MPP must be the joke of the decade. How did he come to know this person socially? When did they first meet? What was discussed at this "brief social encounter"? Why did MPP feel so confident that they were working for the GOJ?

Unlike our SG, MPP knows better than to take the unsupported word of a private lawyer on this important matter. But, if that private lawyer can get them to meet the GOJ's SG and be entertained by the minister of state in the ministry of foreign affairs, Ronald Robinson, and all enter into discussions with MPP regarding the issue for which they were retained, that might well be the foundation of their confidence.


9 The Government of Jamaica did not enter into any contractual arrangement with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and therefore no payments were made to the firm by the Government of Jamaica. "


Maybe not formally, Mr Samuda. But MPP did work on behalf of the GOJ. By your own confession, the purpose of retaining MPP was to permit the GOJ to have informal discussions. And every single independent court of law that you ask for a free opinion will tell you, if it's inclined to give you the opinion, that the actions of your SG and of your minister of state have in fact amounted to the creation of an informal contract on behalf of the GOJ.

It's time for Bruce Golding to emulate British PM Gordon Brown and offer a personal apology as the responsible leader of the source of the tangled web engulfing the nation and about which he was once so arrogantly dismissive. 'Cock mouth' has spoken once. Don't wait for the cock to crow again and again, Bruce'. By then, it might be too late.

Peace and love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Feedback may be sent to columns@gleanerjm.com