Honourable Robelto Hector –“The taxpayers of Nevis DEMAND to know why the NIA has only been hiring an Anguillian law firm which claims it is the sister law firm of the local firm owned by Mark Brantley”
The Honourable Robelto Hector on Tuesday, July 04, 2017, fired off a letter to Mr. Colin Dore, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance within the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), with a series of questions regarding an Anguillian law firm hired by the NIA to handle most of its court cases in Nevis. The law firm is Keithley Lake and Associates.
In an exclusive interview with Nevispages, Mr. Hector said, “I am appalled by the blatant level of conflicts of interests in this arrangement. Myself and my constituents are demanding answers”.
Mr. Hector pointed out that the law firm in question is the only law firm utilized by the NIA in all its high profile Judicial Review cases currently before the High Court.
Mr. Hector further questioned why the NIA hired a law firm in Anguilla so closely affiliated with Minister Brantley, especially when he is featured so prominently in many of the Judicial Review cases.
Mr. Hector stated, “I am questioning if the NIA is in the business of creating work for the sister law firm of the Minister only, since no taxpaying Nevisian law firm is being hired by the NIA in these very expensive cases”.
In the letter to Mr. Dore which was copied to the Premier, Hon. Vance Amory and the NIA Cabinet, Mr. Hector pointed out that a partner in Keithley Lake and Associates, Ms. Jean Dyer has publicly admitted in a social media posting that Daniel Brantley and Associates was the sister law firm of the firm where she is employed, that of Keithley Lake and Associates in Anguilla. Daniel Brantley and Associates is owned by Deputy Premier , Mark Brantley.
In his letter to Permanent Secretary Dore, Mr. Hector, on behalf of his taxpaying constituents, demanded answers to the following questions:
- Does this law firm possess a business license to operate in Nevis?
- Does this law firm possess a Social Security employer’s number?
- Are Social Security contributions being paid?
- Are taxes being paid in Nevis by this law firm?
- What amount was budgeted by the NIA for these legal fees?
- To date, what are the total legal fees for the cases involving this law firm?
- Please provide the itemized invoices for each case to include all legal fees and expenses; to include travel, per diems, meals, accommodation, etc.
- What was the bidding process for these legal services?
- If answer to the above is No, then why not; If yes, what criteria was used to give this law firm all of these legal services and none to any law firm in Nevis?
In this exclusive interview, Mr. Hector further added, “I have sent this letter to Mr. Dore with no response by the deadline quoted in the letter. I followed up with a call to his office on Wednesday morning and was advised that he was not available. I left my phone number. Still no response”.
Mr. Hector pointed out that all such processes should be transparent and as an elected official he was questioning how and why taxpayers money was being spent at the firm in Anguilla.
Mr. Hector said, “As an attorney myself, I can easily see legal fees in these cases being in the many hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly millions. Therefore, the NIA must give an account to the taxpayers of Nevis, why all this money was spent with a law firm in Anguilla, that is the sister law firm of Minister Brantley’s law firm.”
Mr. Hector continued, “The government has a legal department. If the NIA felt the cases were too much work for the existing staff at the Legal department, then, it could have either increased the staffing within the Legal Department, or through a transparent bidding process, hire some of the many competent local law firms available on Nevis. Both options would certainly have been more prudent uses of the taxpayers’ monies of Nevis.”
Mr. Hector stated that he is demanding a full independent investigation in the entire relationship between the NIA and the Anguillan law firm.
Mr. Hector concluded the interview by once again calling on the NIA to enact the Integrity in Public Life Ordinance to ensure that such blatant conflicts of interest as existent in these cases are eliminated.
Mr. Hector said, “The taxpayers of Nevis are demanding to know how the NIA can justify the hiring of a law firm in Anguilla so closely affiliated with Minister Brantley who sits in the NIA Cabinet and who himself is so prominently featured in most of these judicial review matters before the Court. The taxpayers of Nevis also want to know if the Bill to be debated in the Nevis Island Assembly this morning to allow the NIA to borrow more money is being done to pay these huge legal fees”.
This media house will contact Hon. Vance Amory, Hon. Mark Brantley, and Mr. Colin Dore to get their responses to the questions put forward by Hon. Hector in his letter.