Today’s Opinion: Investment scandal

POSTED: 04/8/11 12:00 PM

It is becoming increasingly clear that the combination of the membership of parliament with a function in the private sector is a bad idea.

The  latest controversy surrounding the former Pelican Resort Club (now the Simpson Bay Resort and Marina) and what we perceive as fraudulent shenanigans with the PCIP investment program will make people look once more towards United People’s Party parliamentarian Jules James, the general manager of the resort, even though his name is not even mentioned in the legal action of 46 angry timeshare owners against the owner company, Richard Sutton and Richard Corso.

Waar je mee omgaat word je mee besmet, is a good Dutch expression that illustrates how hot the water is James finds himself in: “You are affected by the people you associate with.”

And the fact is, James and Royal Resorts, a Belize-based company of which Richard Corso is the CEO, are together the statutory directors of the Simpson Bay Resort Management Club. Corso has fleeced investors in the PCIP investment program for millions of dollars, and though there is no indication whatsoever that James played an active part in this scheme, he is associated with Corso whether he likes it or not.

It goes too far at this moment to accuse Corso of embezzlement, but the thought must have crossed many people’s mind. The court documents that detail the complaint against the Simpson Bay Resort Owner Company and against Corso and Sutton certainly gives the firm impression that Corso encouraged timeshare owners to invest in the PCIP program and that he now refuses to stick to the rules he laid out for it.

To give matters an even shadier character, it appears that Corso encouraged others to invest with statements that were not entirely false, but they were not entirely honest either.

Sure, Corso invested half a million bucks in PCIP, but he did not tell anybody that he had secured his investment with a right of mortgage. That little trick allowed him to cash out his $500,000 in December, while other investors were left out in the cold.

So this is the man our member of parliament Jules James associates himself with. There are no laws against this, of course, but whether this makes our MP look good is another matter altogether.

We have argued before that, based on the most generous salary our MPs receive, they should congratulate themselves on having a meaningful and fulltime job. Civil servants, whether they clean the streets or whether they work in a top level job at the finance department, are not allowed to have side jobs according to the ordinance that regulates their rights and obligations.

By staying in the side job at the Simpson Bay Resort – which is certainly not a minimum wage position – James is giving the wrong example to voters and civil servants alike. And by not taking his distance from the questionable business practices of Richard Corso, James is also doing serious damage to his own reputation.


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