David Simmons, SBG & VECO

Chapter II - The Second of Three Installments

Review Chapter I

In 1991 David Simmons started to impact the life of Marjorie Knox, through a company called SBG Development Corporation. It is not clear exactly when SBG was formed but we suspect that it was formed around 1991. Unfortunately, the company records of SBG appear to be lost, so the incorporation date is not available. How unusual! But ask Sir David himself. He will be happy to tell you when it was incorporated!

Big Names
The principals of SBG included some big names:

  • David Simmons (of the Barbados Labour Party, then in opposition, subsequently Attorney General, now Chief Justice)
  • Peter Simmons (former High Commissioner to Britain)
  • Glyne Bannister
  • Philip Greaves (of the Democratic Labour Party, in power at the time, then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport).

Political Differences Put Aside
It may surprise you that David Simmons, a BLP stalwart, and Philip Greaves, the corner stone of the ruling DLP would be involved together in a business venture. One explanation could be family ties between these two.

Simmons, Bannister and Greaves’ Company makes Low Ball Offer
In January of 1992, SBG made its move on Kingsland, or more fully Kingsland Estates Limited. The agreement to sell Kingsland’s shares to SBG was signed by all shareholders except Marjorie Knox. Marjorie Knox point blank refused to sign, even though she was subjected to great psychological pressure. She felt that the price of less than 18 cents per square foot was unreasonably low. The low price coupled with the extreme secrecy surrounding the negotiations made her very suspicious. She could not figure out why her brothers were so anxious to sell their assets way below market value, and why they were unable to produce audited financial statements for the company.

Kingsland Director Excluded from Secret Meeting
In September of 1992 Kingsland’s board of directors, of which Marjorie Knox was a member, announced that they had met. Either deliberately or accidentally, she was neither informed about nor invited to this critical meeting. It seemed as though these actions were deliberate, as she was not fully informed of the agenda and business transacted. The only evidence Knox had of the meeting was the word of the directors. She was told that the directors had decided to call an extra ordinary meeting of share holders.

Radical Action
Her suspicions were heightened. This extraordinary meeting was called to approve the transfer all of the assets of Kingsland to a company called Latitude Golf Development Ltd! A two thirds majority was required to pass this. At the meeting Marjorie Knox expressed her opposition to the transfer. The Chairman, Errie Deane explained at this extraordinary meeting that an error had been made. The existing shareholders could not pass such a resolution but it would be for the new SBG shareholders to do it. This implied that Deane felt SBG was planning to strip Kingsland’s assets.

Knox Succumbs to Intense Pressure from Family
Succumbing to the pressure, in February of 1993 a then seventy-one year old Marjorie Knox signed the SBG agreement. Her lawyers advised her that she had no choice. Her lawyers felt that SBG, in which David Simmons was a principal, would strip the assets from Kingsland. She would have ended up owning a one seventh share in a worthless shell of a company.

Simmons Confident
Next, David Cathcart Simmons advised in writing that he was confident the planning permissions being sought would be approved. And sure enough, in 1992 the Cabinet of Barbados approved an application for a 2,400 acre golf course development which included all of the plantation lands of Kingsland.

Sweet Deal but No Deal
The management of SBG must have had incredible persuasive talents to convince most of the directors of Kingsland to enthusiastically support their offer. Imagine selling over a thousand acres of real estate, much of it prime land, for $8 million or under 18 cents per square foot. 0.2% of the acreage, the Spion Kop & Craigwell property, was recently rumoured to have been resold for appreciably more than the negotiated price of the whole company. Why was Errie Deane so enthusiastic about the deal? Is something missing here?

Surprisingly after landing such a sweet deal, SBG failed to complete the transaction and forfeited its deposit.

History Keeps Repeating Itself
Other schemes materialized over the years, all somewhat similar to the SBG agreement. Some of us wondered if the players were the same, and if they had just changed costumes.

A Rise and a Fall
The rise: David Simmons rose to the post of Chief Justice
The fall: Marjorie Knox continued her downward spiral, losing every court case that she brought. She was even accused in court of fraud!

Give Us Your Opinion
We welcome and will publish all civilized comments. We would especially appreciate hearing from the shareholders and directors of SBG. You may also reply privately at: [email protected]

Next: Chapter III - David Simmons, SBG & VECO - Conclusion
Coming soon: Bannister Causes Turney Fall