Kurt takes aim at Dart exec’s dealings

| 22/04/2015 | 56 Comments
Cayman News Service

Kurt Tibbetts, Minister of Planning, Lands, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

(CNS): Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts has said government will not be dealing with one of Dart Realty (Cayman)’s executive officers when it comes to any future developments on a proposed new oil storage facility being explored by Texas-based oil firm, Navasota. Tibbetts read correspondence to the Legislative Assembly Friday which showed that Chris Pope, the purchasing and logistics manager for Dart and the managing partner in ABS Ltd, was seeking to “muscle in” on the project, offering to help Navasota lobby the East End community and manipulate government into agreeing to a sole party bid for the terminal.

Tibbetts said he wanted to send a message to Pope and anyone else listening that government would not be involved in anything that was underhand, as he berated what appeared to be a claim that he had the necessary influence to pressure government into a lucrative deal.

During parliamentary questions, MLA Arden McLean asked the minister for an update on whether or not government was still pursuing the idea of a new oil storage and transfer facility somewhere in East End with Navasota.

In response, Tibbetts made it clear the proposal was not a priority for government. While it had not completely ruled out the idea of a third fuel supplier and the goal to relocate the South Sound terminals, he said he was not rushing ahead as there were many “hurdles” before it could be a viable project. The minister said there were other important things he wanted to do in his ministry that needed his attention. This idea, he said, was down to Navasota, which had made the proposal to government, and CIG was not directly involved in the analysis and research, which Navasota was paying for.

The firm has claimed that the project could result in cheaper fuel for CUC, royalties from the transfers for government, jobs for locals and the possible relocation and closure of the current terminals at Jackson Point in South Sound, which are in the heart of what is now a residential neighbourhood.

However, giving his answer, Tibbetts implied that government was not actively pursuing the proposal and if it were to ever happen, it was a long way off due to environmental concerns and the need for wide national consensus and support before it would commit to anything.

But the research and analysis being conducted by Navasota on the plausibility of the project had alerted a number of other companies that wanted to partner on a deal that could be lucrative if it ever went ahead. Some were overseas entities and others local, including ABS Ltd, which, according to his LinkedIn page, Pope was involved with for one month in September 2013 (see below),while still working for Dart.

But the correspondence, which was laid on the table of the Legislative Assembly, making it a public document, and read to the House, was sent by Pope from ABS Ltd in December 2014 to government’s contact at Navasota, Dan Hudson. Tibbetts said that he had not seen the email before as he read it out but was quick to say the PPM government would never take part in anything that is not above-board.

In the correspondence, which had been acquired by the East End member, Arden McLean, Pope told Hudson that government was “tentative” about taking on the East End and North Side MLAs, who were opposed to the terminal, but Pope claimed he had influence over both the East End community and government.

He said that his firm had established an action committee to lobby and persuade the district and ultimately pressure government into doing the project under a sole bid. Pope, who was trying to persuade Navasota to work with him, told the Texas-based oil firm that if it would not work with his firm, then ABS Ltd would go it alone and take over. Pointing out that government was moving slowly on it and that they appeared reluctant, Pope claimed to have influence that Navasota did not have to help move the process along.

“He is saying he has the wherewithal to do all kinds of things and can cause government to bend to pressure,” Tibbetts said in reference to the email. “I don’t quite understand what type of relationship he was trying to establish but when they talk about trying for a single source bid, the message I want to send to him and everyone else that is listening is that this (government) will not participate in anything that is not above-board.”

The minister said he would not do any business with Pope. “I won’t be dealing with him,” he stated. “It doesn’t mean because of this it is all over but for this ‘Johnny come lately’ … this one, this Chris Pope … I’m not using parliamentary privilege as I will tell him to his face.” Tibbetts added that the mere fact he came to Cayman to try and do this was enough. “He won’t do business with me.”

The minister emphasized that the Navasota group who came to government had nothing to do with Pope and his firm ABS Ltd and that government may still entertain Navasota, depending on the results of the research. “But this person who is trying to muscle in will not have dealings with government, and where he says about public pressure and lobbying … well, I got news for him.”

Pope is a leading member of the Dart management team, which is still in talks with government over the controversial ForCayman Investment Alliance. According to his profile on the business social media site LinkedIn, he manages all aspects of shipping logistics shipping compliance, worldwide customs regulation compliance, as well as purchasing for some divisions of Dart Realty and fleet management.

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (56)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This raises more questions than it answers. There is no East End Port nor is there a fuel depot to “muscle in” on. Why take such great offense to a single lobbyist on a conceptual project…unless there is already someone special that has been promised a different outcome? Never an anti-corruption commissioner when you need one.

    • Anonymous says:

      @10:49 Why try to shift responsibility.You have no problem insinuating that they have influence over government and all you are concerned about is the fact that someone other than Mr Pope might benefit from the project.Can someone say double standards.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The Minister for Drinking, Eating and Dominoes achieves nothing. Except when it comes to drinking, eating and dominoes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Could you please comment on the subject of the article which is about Mr Popes actions.It seems that whenever there is a story involving an expat (whether or not they have status) in wrongdoing ,we have a certain segment of commenters (presumably expats on island) who try to deflect the story to make it about the locals actions.In this instance ,rather than saying Pope was wrong ,you chose to belittle Kurt for not wanting to do business with him.

      • Anonymous says:

        Have a good cry and a nap then look again. Its like a zen poem with a hidden (but right out there) secret meaning.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nice to see that the poster who has never mastered commas has returned. I missed his annoying anti-expat rants expressed with his bizarre inability to use commas correctly.

    • Anonymous says:

      And in these fields he is an over-acheiver.

  3. Caymanian Suffrage says:

    Excellent work !!!don’t make me laugh pooor old Mr Pope just doesn’t understand that you have to pay homage to the grand Mufti. Da how it wuk Bobo! I will agree with one thing some of you simply ain’t been here long enough to know better to try and cut in on deals that politicians have their dutty little hands in. Yes and please remember once you sellout your own people and do what Mama say and want, you will never ever be investigated for impropriety nor corruption. Bigga Up da PPM!

  4. Back Teets says:

    Executive Officer?

  5. Kitty says:

    There is more going on here then meets the eye? We need to ask ourselves.

    How did this politician receive this private correspondence?
    Who would gain from releasing this information? Both politically and in business?
    Who’s company or individually will benefit from this release and cutting Pope out?

    It is not illegal to lobby and use your experience to leverage bidding on projects. It is illegal to bribe, but nothing here suggests bribery.

    This could be a dirty trick played by a competitor to damage Pope and a politician who knowingly or unknowingly saw a gain from releasing this information.

    We Caymanians are so gullible sometimes. The political class turns the regular Caymanian against the regular expat so many times in this country and the ruling elite get their gain while we fight amongst ourselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      The answer is simple, Novasota found the communication terms arrogant and ethically questionable and, as serious business people who ALREADY has spoken to the government, decided to release it to the representative from East End. After conversations between a company and the government has already started what makes you think that you can come and offer a better deal… Really?

      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps the former Premier set a precedent with his Chinese friends and the port, along with the dump and God knows what else. History speaks for itself.

  6. Anonymous says:

    First the dump, or was it the port? Now the terminals, what next?

    … “what now is a residential district” ”

    NOW” being the operative word. The traditional definion of ‘nuisance’ operates such that if you choose to live close to a dump or oil terminals, or anything else for that matter then it is YOUR choice, you could have chosen to live somewhere else, like those of us who live East away from it all, until the next bright spark comes up with another dumb idea.

  7. Caymanian says:

    Excellent work Mr. Tibbetts! Too often have the Caymanian people been taken advantage of and pressured into making decisions, which in the long run have cost us much more than the little benefit gained, if any at all. I think your decision is very wise. Not everyone that make an appointment to have a meeting with you, is genuine or honest about their intentions. You can’t always be a “yes” man, especially when you’re in a powerful position, because all at a sudden you’ll have more friends (so-called friends) than you even knew you had, looking for favors. Just know that you will never be able to please everyone, therefore it always makes sense to do the right thing! We must stand for something or we will fall for anything! Having a strong backbone will prevent government from being a pushover and will discourage other individuals from trying to undermined government with false intentions. I am proud of you and pray that our other representatives will follow in your footsteps. May you seek God’s guidance always…. and obey.

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanian @ 2:51PM – It is the Greedy Caymanian filling their pockets without thought or consequences, not the sly overseas vulture ‘taking advantage’… You are saying that your people are not educated enough to know better. Be careful what you wish for.

  8. Anonymous says:

    These high powered Lobbyists come to town loaded with money and gifts. It will be interesting to hide and watch to who gives in to their “courtship” and gives them what they want. Now we will see if things have really changed…..

  9. Anonymous says:

    I bet the Dart Group will be handing out a pink slip this week.

    Say what you want about Dart, but they don’t seem to be the set to be doing under the table dealings. This man has given them a black eye, and I’m sure it goes against their business ethics.

    • B. Hurlstone says:

      Baloney! Google “Dart Business Week” and “Dart Squeezing Argentina” and get some facts!

  10. Fred the Piemaker says:

    If he has been here since 2004 are you saying he is “new to the scene”. Really? I think he has a very accurate assessment of how things work in Cayman if you ask me. And as for Kurt saying the government is not open for lobbying or influence, not least because of the environmental considerations, we only have to look at ( and smell) the dump to be reminded just how reluctant our government can be to tackle real environmental problems in the face of lobbying. How come Kurt didn’t raise any of this until Arden tables the correspondence at which point Pope gets thrown under the bus?

    • Anonymous says:

      He’s been here 30 years, married to A Caymanian with 3 Caymanian children.

      • Anonymous says:

        Still don’t change the fact about what he tried to do!!!!

        Stop trying to make it about whether he been here 30 days or 30 years!!!

        It’s what he did. Stop conveniently ignoring that, hypocrite.

    • Anonymous says:

      @ @@/4 2:26pm I suspect that he did not see it because he does not have a crystal ball,and was therefore not able to foresee the future.When he was made aware of what was being attempted ,he acted to snuff it out.Do you honestly believe that someone that claims to be able to push Government into a corner is going to let them know his intentions beforehand?

  11. Anonymous says:

    go back to sleep kurt…..dart will make mince meat out of you …whenever they want to….

  12. Anonymous says:

    Busted! XXXX This is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a small victory, well done Mr. Tibbetts, however much more creative investigation is needed or we will become assimilated into the Dart collective.

  13. Anonymous says:

    My guess is that Mr. Pope will be looking for a new jog within the next 24 hrs.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Someone should probably tell Kurt to go check the immigration records. Lol.

    • Fred the Piemaker says:

      To Kurt Johnny come lately means hasn’t been here for at least 3 generations. No need to check immigration records for that.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Why is it that MLA’s feel the need to describe expats, or those married to Caymanians by derogative names like “Driftwood” and “Jonny come lately”, just what has his immigration status got to do with the matter at hand.

    It really does show how little government thinks of half the population.

    • Kitty says:

      Also a very prominent section of the voting population. It is very clear of recent how some government MLA’s speak and think of their constituents.
      I am still waiting on Kurt to start his revitalization of GT.

    • Anonymous says:

      You focus on a term such as “Jonny come lately” which is used everywhere to describe someone who is new to the scene; but yet not one word on what the main issue of this story. Interesting.

      You won’t be the only one to ignore it, as I’m sure the crickets will be deafening in the comment field for this particular story.

      Yet, if this was a Caymanian that was being exposed, the comments would be overflowing about nepotism, corruption, selfintitlement and on an on.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is a Caymanian whether you like it or not.

        • Anonymous says:

          And he did wrong, a fact you prefer to ignore. Why? Hmmmmm. ..

          • Anonymous says:

            He did? what law did he break? did he give the MLA’s free flights XXXXX. My guess is he was shamed as he didn’t offer any favours to some politicians.
            So now back to the hatred this man born in Jamaica feels about those married to Caymanians.

          • Anonymous says:

            He was lobbying. Like it or not its not against the law. XXXX

      • Anonymous says:

        of course, look at the people behind Ironwood and ask yourself why that got through so fast, or the dolphin farms that were open against public opinion. But no one is ever singled out, weird that

      • Fuzzy says:

        He is a Caymanian. He’s been here more than 30 years, married to a born Caymanian and he has three Caymanian children…so I guess you were wrong about the “nepotism, corruption, selfintitlement (sic) and on an (sic) on”

        Sounds like you’re a little defensive.

    • Anonymous says:

      Besides the fact that he has been here for 30ears and has a Caymanian wife and 3 Caymanian children I guess that does not count

    • Anonymous says:

      You know what’s sad about their choice in terminology? It makes me, as a Caymanian, feel upset that the people running this country have no respect for others, whether they were born here, married to another Caymanian, or expats. Its almost like being in preschool all over again with the name calling.

      Take a life lesson. We are all people. Using derogatory language in any case, no matter the situation, is absolutely uncalled for. This is not how the people “leading” our country should respond or behave.

      This alone is unprofessional and does nothing to help our country.

    • Anonymous says:

      It should be observed that Kurt himself was born in Jamaica and spent a good part of his childhood there before moving to Cayman……

      • Anonymous says:

        Kurt did not arrive here as an adult with “more money than God” and slowly but surely start buying our country. Using the “Power of his Purse” to get what ever he wants.

      • Anonymous says:

        What has that to do with anything? The island was originally populated by people from from England and Jamaica.

        • Anonymous says:

          The point is that everyone on this little rock drifted ashore at one time or another and today’s first generation Caymanian is tomorrow’s multi-generation Caymanian. So this ongoing “permanence” debate is irrelevant in the wider scheme.

        • Anonymous says:

          from Europe and Africa…. just like Jamaica. KNow the history, thats the problem now people want to claim Cayman because of English control over Jamaica and Cayman

    • Anonymous says:

      Not to worry, many blame Mac for all the Jamaicans and he might have one of two relatives from 5 generations ago (i.e. Europeans or slaves passing through Ja), but just to set record straight, Kurt was born in Jamaica

      and many Caymanians are not loyal to Cayman, that has given them everything, so they listen to their white Jacan masters and rest of us are driftwood, won’t be surprised if Kurt feels that way, very common

    • Anonymous says:

      To @11:46 Please comment on Mr Pope’s actions and not his immigration status.

    • Anonymous says:

      Johnny come lately means someone late on the scene.In this instance ,discussions had already started between Navasota and Government,so Pope was late on the scene ,therefore he is a Johnny come lately.

    • Sharkey says:

      It really show how little government think of half of the population , which half are you talking about ? If you think that government thinks little of half of the population expats or Caymanians , then I think that you should sign your name to your comment , These are the kind of comments that keeps HATE alive and well .

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