Saturday, August 23, 2014

Marco Francis and Steve Fanny must resign; Seychelles in disarray

It has come to light that in 2008 Marco Francis, the current Chairman of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), had deceitfully submitted a forged document in the form of a degree certificate to the Seychelles Financial Authority (FSA) which was formerly the Seychelles International Business Authority (SIBA) in an attempt to trick the authority. The suspicious degree certificate from Durham University was investigated at that time by Dr Steve Fanny himself as the Managing director of SIBA, with the findings from the University confirming the forged document. The fake degree certificate was presumably a required document in setting up an offshore company for the SCCI chairman. Dr Fanny, now the Principal Secretary for Economic Policy, Trade and Investment, for reasons only known to him decided to hide and suppress the findings by taking no appropriate action at this attempt to defraud and deceive the authority he was entrusted as Managing Director.

On 16th October 2008 Dr Fanny wrote a letter to Mr Paul Brierley, the Examinations and Assessment Manager at Durham University at that time, to verify the authenticity of the submitted degree certificate.  In the letter he specifically queries the spelling error with “Honours” spelt “Houours”; a clear giveaway.

In the response of Mr Brierley he confirmed that it was indeed not an authentic Durham University certificate, citing numerous reasons including the fact that the signatures of the Vice Chancellor and Registrar are not correct. He further indicated that they had no record of any student named Marco Lorenzo Francis having attended Durham University. The primary objective of the SCCI is to promote and protect all types of business and investment in Seychelles and this will come as a most staggering embarrassment for the association. And it will also be an embarrassment for President James Michel, as the SCCI chairman is part of the 14 distinguished member of the National Forum. Marco Francis is now all but distinguished; a distinguished fraudster and deceiver perhaps.

Upon investigating the matter at hand, Durham University was contacted to confirm the enquiry by Dr Fanny. In an email received from the Student Registry, Durham University confirmed  that “this letter is authentic, all of the information given in the letter is correct, and it was sent from Durham University by Mr Paul Brierley.”

With the confirmation of the forgery and in the capacity to discharge his functions as Managing Director, Dr Fanny should have used his best endeavour to ensure that the Authority operates in accordance with the principles of good governance and to fulfil its statutory obligations and properly discharges its functions.  No action whatsoever was taken; a gross and shameful neglect of Dr Fanny’s duties.  How many other cases has Dr Fanny swept under the carpet, was there collusion between the two parties in the form of bribery , what else as a Principal Secretary in the Finance Ministry could Dr Fanny be hiding  and now questions have to be raised regarding the recent fire at the FSA.

The Penal code states that forgery is the making of a false document with intent to defraud or to deceive and “who makes a document purporting to be what in fact it is not”. Furthermore “any person who forges any judicial or official document is liable to imprisonment for ten years”. Recently it was brought to the attention that a criminal investigation by the police on this matter has been ongoing for the past three months. The police have all the necessary documents but have been painfully slow in acting; they seem petrified to investigate the case.

The case of Marco Francis is clear cut; a felony was committed. It was investigated by the Managing director of SIBA and no action was taken as required by law and the truth kept away from the public; a clear violation of ethics and the duties of Dr Fanny. They can never be trusted again. The people of Seychelles deserve better and because of this most shameful and deceitful law breaking act, both Marco Francis and Steve Fanny must resign immediately to restore any confidence left in the SCCI and Ministry of Finance.

By A.Pierre