A reader drew my attention to a Sunday, August 31, 2008, Advocate article stating that Prime Minister David Thompson had invited Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama to Barbados for a holiday.
I thought this was wonderful. I thought it was an extremely intelligent move by the Barbados Prime Minister to get some publicity and good will for Barbados. This would be a tremendous boost for tourism. I told the reader my thoughts.
Read it again.“, I was told.
It’s a Small World After All
I read it again. Then I remembered that Senator Obama is a co-sponsor of the “Levin-Coleman-Obama Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act“. The Act:

Provides initial list of 34 Offshore Secrecy Jurisdictions, while giving Treasury Secretary discretion to add or subtract from the list using certain criteria. Initial list of jurisdictions was taken from IRS court filings identifying them as probable locations for U.S. tax evasion:
The list of countries that follows: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, …
I see it this way. If someone is being investigated, it is not accepted practice to issue an invitation to the investigator. Now Mr. Thompson is not being investigated by Mr. Obama, but Barbados, Mr. Thompson’s country is.
Is it proper for David Thompson to invite a Senator who has labeled Barbados as an “Offshore Secrecy Jurisdiction”, and is currently investigating Barbados for Tax Abuses?
While it will be interesting to see whether or not Senator Obama accepts this invitation, there is another fascinating story here.
Black Entertainment Television and GEMS
Above: Robert L. Johnson sits next to President G.W. Bush (Wikipedia)
If you look carefully at the photograph in the Advocate’s article, you will see some very important people.
Click on the image to see the entire photo in the Advocate.
They are (from left to right): House Majority Whip Congressman James Clyburn, Attorney Weldon Latham, PM David Thompson, and billionaire Robert Johnson on the right. (An interesting aside is that Clyburn endorsed Obama, while Latham and Johnson supported Clinton.)
I thought to myself:

  • “Wasn’t Robert Johnson the founder of (BET) Black Entertainment TV?” - Yes, he was.
  • “Wasn’t BET involved with the scandal-ridden GEMS project?” - According to this Nation News article of August 12, 2001, BET was planning to buy a controlling interest in GEMS.
Now I can’t find a Bill Johnston who was President of BET. This may be a misprint as BET is Bob Johnson’s company. Wikipedia states:

In 1999, Viacom bought BET for $3 billion. Johnson’s 63% stake made him worth over a billion dollars after taxes, making him the richest black person until surrendering the title to Oprah Winfrey, when then-wife Sheila Johnson claimed much of his billion in divorce. Johnson continued to be the company’s chairman and CEO for six years.
Is there a business deal afoot here? Mr. Johnson no longer owns BET, but is he still interested in rescuing GEMS?

Additional reading: Source: TRANSCRIPT OF DAVID THOMPSON’S BOMBSHELL SPEECH AT BUSSA on BFP article Current Poll Puts Democratic Labour Party In The Lead
- “The name Hallam Nicholls was also mentioned by the late Johnny Cochrane as we flew on a flight from the Caribbean to Miami a few years ago. Johnnie Cochrane was a major shareholder and director in the now defunct Eastern Caribbean Lottery. That lottery was forced upon the Barbados Cricket Association by senior members of this Barbados Labour Party government.” … “In other words, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am saying tonight that someone in Barbados benefited to the tune of 4.25 per cent or, in practical terms, eight cents from every ticket bought by Barbadians during the time that the East Caribbean lottery was operating in Barbados. I am saying further tonight that it is known to the person who has benefited that at least one member of this party is in possession of that information and that is why that person is the target of abuse on a nightly basis from the platform of the Barbados Labour Party.
Also: New York Times - BET Founder [Bob Johnson] Slams Obama in South Carolina