Sol ban stays

Court extends injunction stopping BNTCL sale to oil giant

An injunction preventing Government from selling the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) to regional petroleum products giant Sol has been extended until May 26.

A battery of high-profile lawyers went before High Court Judge Olson Alleyne this morning for what was expected to be a series of arguments for and against extending an interim injunction granted to Sol’s competitor, Rubis last Friday, halting the sale, on which the Freundel Stuart administration was counting on to help shore up the foreign currency reserves.

As it turned out, the attorneys for the defendants – the Attorney General, Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOCL) and Sol subsidiary BNTCL Holdings Limited – were not quite ready and requested more time to prepare their response, to which Rubis’ lawyers agreed.

“The injunction continues by consent of us all until May 26 when we come back and argue whether the injunction should continue or whether it should be discharged. The usual practice is to continue it until that hearing is had. So in the meantime we have to file affidavits, written submissions, and the timetable has been set by the court, which we have to comply with. So hopefully when we come back the hearing will take place,” Barry Gale, QC, one of the attorneys for BNTCL Holdings Limited, later explained.

In addition to Gale, the oil terminal company is also represented by Sir Henry Forde, QC, Laura Harvey-Reid and Lisa Gollop-Corbin, while Donna Brathwaite, QC, appeared for the Attorney General and Roger Forde for the BNOCL.

Barry Gale, QC & Leslie Haynes, QC

“We were only served with court documents on the 27th of March and the injunction was acquired ex-parte [without notice] so all three defendants have to get instructions to prepare affidavits and to respond to their [Rubis] affidavits. Following that exercise all parties have been ordered to file written legal submissions,” Gale added.

The High Court had last Friday granted Rubis an interim injunction until April 3, stopping the controversial multi-million dollar sale of the oil terminal in its tracks and throwing a spanner in the works of Government’s plan to beef up the dwindling foreign exchange reserves, which had fallen to a 14-year low of 10.3 weeks of import cover as of the end of last year.

Rubis had lodged an application for a judicial review, challenging the inclusion of a 15-year moratorium clause in the agreement between Government and the Sir Kyffin Simpson-led Sol for the US$100 million merger, which the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) is currently probing to determine whether or not it should be approved.

The clause prohibits the construction of another oil terminal in Barbados, as well as the granting of licences for the storage of fuel, aviation fuel and jet fuel for the commercial and industrial purposes.

Attorney-at-law Leslie Haynes, QC, who along with Sherica J Mohammed Cumberbatch and Nicholas Maynard comprised Rubis’ legal team, this morning explained it was important to take the legal route before the FTC had reached a decision.

“We explained to the court that the matter was of some urgency because the Fair Trading Commission could at any date make its decision. By the Fair Trade Commission Act, they are not obliged to give notice to Rubis because Rubis is not party to the application. So once the FTC gives its decision of which Sol and BNOCL would have notice, the transaction could be completed within the next ten minutes,” Haynes argued.

The delay comes much to the frustration of Sol, which had been hoping for a speedy completion to the agreement it reached with the Stuart administration.

“Time is of the essence,” Gale stressed.

“The matter as you know is still before the Fair Trading Commission and that process is ongoing, there are still representations being made. The interim injunction, unless it is discharge, will prevent completion of the acquisition.”

The attorney added that the 15-year moratorium was “in essence a fundamental condition of the acquisition, so the practical effect is that the injunction does prevent the completion of the transaction”.

After the international ratings agency Standard & Poor’s had downgraded Barbados from B- to CCC+ last month, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler had said he was confident the FTC would approve the sale which, when taken with a draw down which was expected from the Sam Lord’s Castle development project and a First Citizens bank loan, would return the reserves to “well above” the desired 12 weeks of imports.

colvillemounsey@barbadostoday.bb

5 Responses to Sol ban stays

  1. Kaiser Sose
    Kaiser Sose March 31, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Awesome

    Reply
  2. Concern March 31, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Under that agreement both parties must agree to go arbitration this is not the case, Rubis is just stalling until and the courts are obliging. Rubis should never be allow to cause economic malaise and there are laws to that effect to these contracting parties that do just that. The court and FTC must consider also what Rubis is doing in Antigua and be guided accordingly as well.

    Reply
  3. Haskell Murray March 31, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    After the injunction is lifted and the lawyers have their say, since BNOCL is a bajan government asset the court MUST let the sale go through to SOl since this is a bajan bred and born family company and will keep the jobs here.

    Reply
  4. Peter March 31, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Whichever way one looks at it, Private sector elite call the shots. In the great SA, the Wealthy corporations fund Governors who lobby congress for funds and contracts to loan and donate to third world contries to bild developmental projects sch as bridges, airports purchase airplanes et al. These countries are now bonded to utilizing the goods and services of these large conglomerate corporations some of whom disguise it as overseas investments. Those Billions go right back to the SA showing profits and dividends and the government sees their returns in taxes. One big circle. Those heavy weight attorneys make their millions. whomever wins the case. In America there was Rockefeller, Daddy and son Bush, Franklin Roosevelt, Bloomberg et al. Now Trump. and a host of others.
    Here in Barbados we had the Goddards and a host of others the Williams’ on one side and Paris, with CLICO, Simpson, Mariano Brown through Trinidad, Preconco led by JADA and Maloney. et al. Live with it. that’s the way the political gear wheel turns. Politicians are really known in investment circle as GOLD DIGGERS. It’s really a hand wash hand situation. I personally would back Barbados owned SOL. Look at what MASSEY is doing to Barbados. They bought out or largest conglomerate BS&T lock stock and barrel (of crabs- Jennifer would love that pun). They even own a Real Estate Company and are bsy selling properties to Trinidadians with fnds to spare. I kno an individual who manages 24 properties owned by one female Trini Lawyer. Work with that.

    Reply
  5. Peter March 31, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    That should read USA and not SA

    Reply

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