A copy of a document which Tobago PNM leader Ancil Dennis says proves zipline company is legitimately registered in the BVI. PHOTO TAKEN FROM ANCIL DENNIS’ FACEBOOK PAGE –
PNM Tobago Council political leader Ancil Dennis has revealed that Original Canopy Tours Enterprises Ltd, which earned a THA contract in 2015 to build a 1.5km zipline in Tobago’s Main Ridge that never materialised, does exist.
At a news conference last Friday, Chief Secretary Farley Augustine claimed the company was not legitimate.
He made the claim after the THA received two freezing orders against the Original Canopy Tours Enterprises Ltd – one in Trinidad and Tobago and another in the British Virgin Islands, (BVI) where the company is based.
One order was granted against Richard Graham and Darren Hreniuk, of Original Canopy Tours, by Justice Kevin Ramcharan on November 5. The other was granted last Thursday by Justice Gerhard Wallbank in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court’s commercial division for the High Court of the BVI.
The Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) had criticised the PNM and former Tobago Council leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine for their handling of the failed project in the run-up to the January 2021 THA election.
The party had claimed that the project, which was a major talking point of the campaign, never came to fruition despite several millions being spent. Davidson-Celestine was secretary of tourism when the project was announced in 2015.
She has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying the project had barely got off the ground when she left office to become ambassador to Costa Rica in April 2017.
But weeks before the December 6, 2021, THA election, the former Dennis-led THA administration sued the company for alleged breach of contract.
At the news conference, Augustine said, “After commencing civil proceedings against Original Canopy Tours Ltd for the receiver of millions of dollars spent on the project, it was discovered that the company was not in fact a legitimate company.”
He claimed the THA’s attorney, John Jeremie, SC, did the necessary search in the BVI, where the company was said to be registered, based on its registration documents presented to the THA. “But I just found that the company just does not exist there at all.”
Augustine said the matter is now in the hands of the police.
But at a news conference, carried live on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Dennis denied Augustine’s claim that Original Canopy Tours Enterprises Ltd was not a legitimate company.
Dennis read from a document headlined Territory of the British Virgin Islands: BVI Business Company’s Act 2004, Certificate of Good Standing.
He revealed the name of the company is OCT Enterprises Ltd and its BVI company number 430213.
“The company is not only in existence, but, by virtue of the information within this document, this company is also in good standing,” he said.
Dennis said he has already transmitted this information to the relevant players.
“I am also going to share it with you, the members of the public, you Tobagonians, so you can see for yourself how your chief secretary has once again opted to mislead the people of Tobago, just like he did back in 2020, leading up to the January 2021 Tobago House of Assembly election.”
He added, “I am going to post this now to my Facebook page so that you the people can see this document for yourself and it will be transmitted to the relevant players in this matter.”
Dennis said he pursued the matter “relentlessly and diligently” during his tenure as chief secretary from May 2020-December 2021.
“When we got to the point of finding information that told us what transpired with the zipline we took the matter to court because it was the responsible thing to do.”
He added, “But the records will show and it is right there in the Division of Tourism and in the Office of the Chief Secretary that we procured the legal advice in May 2021 and the instruction was given immediately to take the matter to court.
“And with all the required processes and preparations that had to be done by the attorney this matter was not filed until November 2021, one month before the THA election.”
Dennis again noted that Original Canopy Tours is a bonafide company.
“It is my expectation that this matter will continue to be pursued in the court of law so that the people will firstly be furnished with the truth and all the relevant information concerning this zipline and all that transpired with that project.”
Dennis said he is also hoping “if the possibility exists, that we will be able to recoup every bit of expenditure that was utilised in this project. That is my hope and expectation concerning this matter.”