Sunday, March 29, 2009

Millenium Bank

The story below, an AP story reprinted by Salon Magazine, is appearing all over the place.

St. Vincent takes over bank linked by US to fraud

By DUGGIE JOSEPH Associated Press Writer

Mar 27th, 2009 | KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent -- Regulators in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have taken control of an island bank that U.S. authorities linked to an alleged $68 million Ponzi scheme, the prime minister said Friday.

Ralph Gonsalves said in an interview with The Associated Press that Millennium Bank in the eastern Caribbean island chain has just $4 million in assets and equity.

It is this year's second prominent fraud allegation involving a Caribbean-based offshore bank. Last month, authorities accused Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford of defrauding investors of some $8 billion through a bank in Antigua.

Gonsalves defended St. Vincent's regulatory system, saying he has "whittled down" the number of offshore banks in the country from more than 40 to six since taking office in 2001. He said he even tried to kick Millennium Bank out of the country for mismanaging assets.

"We have dealt with all the regulatory issues properly," he said. "The wrongdoing which has been alleged in the complaint has taken place in institutions based in the U.S."

In a complaint released Thursday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said two U.S. residents cheated more than 375 investors since 2004 by claiming to offer certificates of deposit from the bank at much-higher-than-average interest rates.

The complaint alleges that William Wise of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Kristi Hoegel of Napa, California, orchestrated the scheme through Millennium Bank and its Geneva, Switzerland-based parent United Trust of Switzerland SA, as well as U.S.-based affiliates of both organizations.

Millennium Bank began its operations in St. Vincent in 2000. Gonsalves said he revoked the bank's license in 2003 because of low capitalization and reckless management that left it unable to meet its obligations.

The bank appealed the decision and was reinstated because the government's auditor had not yet been formally qualified. The bank's license was restored in 2004 although it remained in controllership.

Gonsalves said a regulatory body in St. Vincent, the International Financial Services Authority, put the bank into the hands of a receiver, KPMG International, on Thursday.

The International Financial Services Authority said it appointed the receiver to take over bank operations and preserve records and assets after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission notified it of the allegations.

The authority said in a statement that it had sought last month to appoint an independent auditor to review Millennium's operations but was rebuffed by the bank. The statement gave no details about why it sought the independent auditor.


Associated Press writer Mike Melia contributed to this report from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Salon provides breaking news articles from the Associated Press as a service to its readers, but does not edit the AP articles it publishes.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Pigmented Spectacles": Conversations with Dr. Ian Ayrton Earle Kirby

"Pigmented Spectacles": Conversations with Dr. Ian Ayrton Earle Kirby

David Chesterton's fascinating biography of "Doc" Kirby is not quite finished, but he brought copies down to St. Vincent so that people who knew Kirby could take a look at it. "Doc" was not above pulling people's legs on occasion, and whether or not he left "Doc"'s version stand, he wanted to know how other people saw the same incidents. If you have an anecdote about "Doc", there are copies of the biography in the library to compare it to, and if you have a correction that you'd like considered, email me at
[] and I'll see that David gets it.

If you didn't know "Doc" Kirby, you missed something. I met him at his little museum in the botanic garden the first time we visited St. Vincent, and I tried to drop in whenever we were down. He was always interesting to talk to, and it was doubly interesting when another visitor came by. "Doc" always used that as an opportunity to learn something new, or teach someone something new about St. Vincent, or both at once.

I miss the opportunity to visit the museum when "Doc" was there. As it is now located in the Carnegie Library Building, under the auspices of the National Trust, it is more formal and the exhibit cases are more dignified, and the exhibits are probably safer, but "Doc" gave them personality.

However, if you didn't have a chance to know "Doc" before he passed away, you can still see his portrait in the museum, study the exhibits that he collected, and now read about his life in David Chesterton's fascinating book. When David told "Doc" that he was going to write about him, "Doc" said: "To tell my story you'll have to see the world as I see it. As a Vincentian and very proud of that, I see everything from an islander's point of view. To understand that you'll have to wear pigmented spectacles".

As far as I can tell, and we've only known St. Vincent for 15 years or so, David's spectacles have a noticeable vincentian tint. There may be more accessible documentation about "Doc" in Canada, and even in Scotland, but "Doc"'s life was mostly in St. Vincent and reading the book you will not only get a sense of the person that "Doc" Kirby was, but the environment he grew up and lived his life in. David's book is not a travelogue, but you will get a stronger impression of St. Vincent than from books scribbled after a brief visit.

And "Doc" was a man with original ideas that are still ahead of his time. He was convinced that the African component of the Garifuna genetic inheritance was not principally from escaped slaves (as the slaveowners and their apologists chose to believe) but from expeditions from Mali in the 1300s. I'll dig out some migration maps that "Doc" gave me and put up a blog about that in the near future.

In the meantime you can go to the library and ask to read the proof version of "Pigmented Spectacles", and when the corrected edition comes out in a couple of months you'll be able to buy your own copy at Gaymes Book Centre on Grenville St.

Click on image to enlarge

Monday, March 23, 2009

SVG Athelete

LAFAYETTE, La. – Junior thrower Adonson Shallow improved on
his school record in the hammer throw, senior jumper Roseann Bell
recorded the third-best performance in school history to win the
long jump, and junior jumper Corey Billizone hit an NCAA Regional
Qualifying standard en route to a first place finish in the high jump
as the Southeastern Louisiana University men’s and women’s track
and field teams turned in a bevy of impressive performances at the
Louisiana Classics on Saturday. ...

Leading the way for Southeastern, Shallow continued his dominant
performance in the throws events. The Kingston, St. Vincent and
the Grenadines native improved on the school hammer throw
record he set last week with a first-place throw of 202 ft. 8 in.
(61.77 m) for the first 200 foot hammer throw mark in
Southeastern history.

Shallow was joined in the hammer throw by junior Chris Labat, who
finished fourth, and senior Kyle Francis, who finished fifth, to give
Southeastern three top-five finishers in the hammer.

Shallow then went on to claim first place in the discus. Shallow’s
179 ft. 5 in. (54.69 m) mark in the discus was the third-best throw
in school history.

An Anonymous Traveler in Barbados

Sunday, March 22, 2009
Barbadian Racism?

I usually half-joke that it's best to transit Grantley Adams International Airport when an international flight has just landed. Those're the only times I've found more than a couple immigration officers on duty and the "NOTHING TO DECLARE" part of the customs area unblocked.

So when I came off LIAT's last flight from St Vincent tonight and saw a Virgin plane on the ground, I felt pretty lucky. My spirits fell a bit when, as I walked past the glass wall, I noticed that all the immigration desks were empty, but by the time I got to the desks there were more than two immigration officers on duty -- a sign that the Virgin passengers hadn't been cleared too long ago. That sign was confirmed a few moments later when I headed towards the bag section and saw a good number of white travellers in that area.

Things got even better, it seemed, when I only had to wait a few minutes for my bag to come onto the carousel. This is great, I thought as I approached the almost-double line of people at the customs section. I say 'almost-double line' because there seemed to be one line -- or rather, a gathering of people and suitcases -- near the back, but there were apparently two at the front near the customs officers. One of the lines was roughly towards the red sign marked ITEMS TO DECLARE on the left and the other towards the green sign marked NOTHING TO DECLARE on the right.

There didn't seem to be anything special about the lines at first; they were a fairly ordinary mixture of West Indians and Britons (if the plane on the ground and the accent of the woman I accidentally bumped into are anything to go by), some white and some black. The kind of racial mixing typical of a Caribbean airport, right? When I looked ahead in the region of the signs and the customs officers, though, I had to look again. It seemed as though only white people were being allowed through the NOTHING TO DECLARE section.

"But surely not", I thought. "Look longer."

And longer I looked. I watched as some black people towards the front of the line on the left headed towards the NOTHING TO DECLARE branch in apparent confusion and were pointed to the ITEMS TO DECLARE side by a customs officer who apparently had no need to glance at their passports or customs forms. I watched as some other black people in the NOTHING TO DECLARE line were pointed to the ITEMS TO DECLARE branch when they got to the customs officer at the front of their line. I watched as a customs officers took some white travellers' forms from the fronts of both lines and let them pass the NOTHING TO DECLARE sign without so much as glancing at the forms. And I watched and listened to an exchange between a customs officer and a white traveller a person or two ahead of me.

"Where are you coming from?", the black customs officer asked the white traveller.
"St Vincent", the traveller replied. As as he said that I remembered seeing him on the same flight as me.
The customs officer then said something else that I didn't make out, and the traveller said something in response that I also didn't make out. What I did make out, though, is what happened next: the customs officer waved him over to the NOTHING TO DECLARE SECTION.

I barely had time to register my shock before it was my turn.

"Are you coming from Jamaica too?", the customs officer asked me.
Jamaica? I thought. "No, St Vincent", I replied.

And with that he dismissed me with a point to the ITEMS TO DECLARE branch and a look at the next person behind me. He didn't ask me anything else. He didn't glance at my passport. He didn't look at my customs form. But I'm certain he saw my skin colour, and he must've recognised my accent -- what it wasn't, I'm sure, if not what it was -- and that was enough for him.

And being a submissive black West Indian, I wordlessly did as he directed.

posted by Antillean @ 6:54 PM

Thursday, March 19, 2009


here is a video clip of "Wine Up On Me" by Zoela from SVG.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sailing, sailing

There's a blog with some good pictures here . Go back a couple of essays while you are there.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Video Clips

Nice video clips on the shopping channel here

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Vacation video

There's an interesting video (made in 2005 but things don't change that much) that can be found here

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Travel Blog Entry
Yesterday we were in Kingstown, St Vincent (as in St Vincent and the Grenadines)
– a small and surprisingly poor island (most people seem to live in tiny, falling-
down shacks) with a lot of fascinating history; theyʼre particularly proud of their
Botanic Garden, which is the oldest in the Western hemisphere (and who knows
where the Western hemisphere begins and ends? I certainly donʼt), founded in
1765. Itʼs located up a rather steep hill, like everything in Kingstown, and as we
were trudging up we met a very friendly chap coming down who announced that he
was the caretaker of the gardens, that he was just going to unlock them and would
show us up there. So he walked us the last ten minutes up the hill, giving detailed
descriptions of every plant we passed (and there were a lot) - St Vincent is
particularly lush (itʼs volcanic) and grows lots of spices and fruits – as well as most
of the worldʼs supply of arrowroot, apparently. He told us a lot about the medicinal
properties of everything – all these things are still so much part of common
knowledge, eating cassia pods to relieve stomach pains, boiling lime leaves in milk
for young children with colds… dropping nutmegs into rum punch at parties to get
high… Then when we got almost to the gate of the gardens, this chap handed us
over to another man who turned up, saying that heʼd give us the official tour, so we
could give them both tips. We suggested that weʼd rather wander around by
ourselves, so we gave them some money and got away – and at the gates of the
gardens were mobbed by a whole bunch of other men trying to offer us tours, all
waving ʻofficialʼ guide badges. So Iʼm not sure whether the keys around our
“guideʼs” belt really were to open the gardens, as he claimed, and Iʼm not sure if I
believe that he lives next door to the prime minister (who does indeed live in the
Gardens) in his curatorʼs hut… but at least we learned something. It was quite
funny, really. And I saw a hummingbird in the gardens of the Anglican church. This
church, incidentally, features a rather magnificent stained-glass window, very pre-
Raphaelite with a crimson angel at its centre. It was intended for St Paulʼs
Cathedral, but Queen Victoria refused to have it, since angels, as everybody
knows, are white, not red. So it ended up in St Vincent. Because it was Sunday
morning all the shops were shut and everybody was in one or other of the many
churches – the whole town was quiet except for the singing spilling enthusiastically
out of every door – beautifully sung hymns from the Anglicans, excessive-sounding
gospel from the Evangelicals and (Iʼm sorry to say) appalling Christian pop from the
Catholics. We walked up another hill and could hear these floating past by turns,
mixed with barking dogs, bleating goats and an astonishing number of roosters.
The goats were grazing in the churchyard and chasing each other over the graves,
which we thought was a little irreverent, especially on a Sunday… More soon but
Iʼm falling asleep, since my body hasnʼt quite yet worked out that itʼs 9pm and not