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Feb 23, 2023

Portico Responses to Former Attorney General, but Is There Really a Definitive Agreement?

The principals of Portico Enterprises Limited have responded to a letter written by former Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte on January twenty-seventh.  In that communication,  the previous chief legal officer is on record categorically stating that at no time during his term in office, from January 2017 to November 2020, was there any definitive agreement recommended by the Investment Committee, approved by cabinet, or vetted by his office between the Barrow administration and Portico.  In his rejoinder, David Gegg, Chief Executive Officer for Portico Enterprises Limited, wrote that in February 2020, the company retained the services of Morales Peyrefitte LLP, a law firm in which the former AG was a partner.  According to Gegg, the law firm was tasked with drafting,  “the same definitive agreement to which you appear to be oblivious as to its existence”.  Furthermore, Gegg goes on to say that Peyrefitte’s then law partner, David Morales, held several discussions with him, in his capacity as attorney general and member of the Investment Committee, pertaining to the terms of agreement and that it was Peyrefitte who vetted the agreement and advised that certain amendments were necessary.  Elsewhere in Gegg’s response, he refers to a Letter of Support in Principle for Portico Enterprises Limited.  That letter was signed by Tracy Taegar Panton, former chair of the Cabinet Subcommittee for Investments.  Earlier today, News Five sat down with Panton who gave an account of the process and where it stood prior to the change in administration in November 2020.


Tracy Panton

Tracy Panton, Former Chair, Investment Committee

“Certainly under the Barrow administration the government was pro investment.  We had established a cabinet subcommittee on investments that would look at these investment proposals that would be brought to the government from time to time.  All the key priority sectors sat on that committee, including the attorney general’s ministry.  Where it came to that particular investment, indeed, we had a Memorandum of Understanding which is the first step in the process for all investors, all serious investors in any major projects in the country.  And so, I know for sure that we had a Memorandum of Understanding for that particular project.  I am not aware of any definitive agreement which is usually the last stage of really cementing the investment opportunity in the country.  You know, the government has to ensure that the investor has the right, has the capital available, that all the permissions have been granted, that sort of thing.  When I left, or when we left the government administration, that project was not there yet.  Certainly, none was discussed with the cabinet subcommittee on investment and none was discussed with me directly.”


Isani Cayetano

“For those who may not know or understand what a definitive agreement is, can you explain that in the context of an investment opportunity?”


Tracy Panton

“Well ultimately it means, or in the simplest terms, it means that the government approves the project to be built, you know, that all the bolts and nuts have been secured.  All the I’s and T’s have been dotted and crossed and now this project is ready for implementation.  That certainly was not where we left that project.  There was still the environmental impact assessment process that was not completed and that is critical component in having final approval for any projects in terms of major investments in infrastructure in the country.”


Isani Cayetano

“Is there any way in which, perhaps, this process or this phase of the entire process with the Investment Committee can be circumvented?”


Tracy Panton

“I dont see how.  I dont see how, if the formal process was followed, and as far as I am aware, the formal process was being followed with that particular investor.”


Late this evening, Panton told News Five that the letter attached to Portico’s response is not a definitive agreement.  She says that such an arrangement is a legally binding document that is drafted and vetted by the Attorney General’s Ministry and thereafter would be approved and signified by Cabinet.  She ended by stating that the letter on behalf of Portico was nothing more than, “an expression of good faith and is not intended to create legally enforceable rights and obligations”.  In respect of Peyrefitte’s letter which formed the basis of several social media attacks on Gegg and Portico, an individual who is connected to the Stake Bank project will face legal action for libelous and defamatory statements.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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