Oil Secrets of Suriname: Public Largely in the Dark as Offshore Dreams Deferred

For the people of Suriname, offshore oil is supposed to be a game-changer. As they have struggled through a protracted economic crisis over the past decade, they have watched lucrative deep-water discoveries transform neighbouring Guyana. They have also heard their own leaders promise that a similar oil boom will come soon to Suriname, bringing badly needed jobs and wealth for the country’s more than 600,000 people and helping resolve a debt crisis that recently led to riots in the capital. But the people are still waiting. The Final Investment Decision for Suriname’s first deep-water drilling project has been deferred repeatedly, and mounting frustration with the delay has highlighted the secrecy surrounding the nascent industry. 

“We should at least know what kind of contracts have been made, and don’t come up with stories that it’s confidential between us and [foreign oil companies],” Surinamese environmentalist Erlan Sleur told the Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network.


Where CBI Answered an Economic SOS

When the Grenada Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme was launched in August 2013, it was believed by many to be the only way to save the island from an economic downfall. 

Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell pushed the passport scheme in 2013 as his government battled economic struggles whipped up by the global financial downturn. Government declared that the programme would become a main source of revenue to help develop the island and pay outstanding debt to international creditors and lending agencies. 

The programme offers individuals the ability to buy its passport in as few as 60 days at a minimum cost of  USD $150,000 USD in addition to USD $8,000 processing fees. In 2018, five years after the programme started, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned of an overreliance on CBI inflows, noting that the programme accounted for 4.5 per cent of GDP in 2017:

“Further improve mechanisms for monitoring the proceeds of CBI inflows and recording all flows through the consolidated fund on budget to improve fiscal management and reporting,” was a major red flag from the IMF, which also asserted that “strict enforcement of the due diligence process of the CBI program are critical for Grenada’s continued stable access to cross-border bank payments”.(

Source: IM Daily

The CBI program based on projections in the budget estimate is expected to remain a vital earner for Grenada’s economy. Red Flags

By law, the identity of beneficiaries under the programme is a tightly kept secret – just one of the restrictions that raises a transparency red flag for a programme that plays a major role in raising cash and investments to boost economic growth. 

Grenada is just one of five countries in the English-speaking Caribbean to offer the programme. Through these schemes, non-nationals can purchase citizen status after making financial commitments to invest in real estate or special funds set up by the governments. 

But there have been longstanding concerns by citizens, local anti-corruption lobbyists and powerful development partners in Europe and North America that the passport schemes could be abused to shield bad actors like money launderers and terrorism financiers.

About Caribbean Ponzis and Pyramids

There has been strong criticism in some circles over the use by pyramids and Ponzi schemes of monikers attached to longstanding traditional, informal savings associations that operate legally. 

Names such as “Sou Sou”, “Box Hand” and “Partners” are now widely employed in the marketing of unlawful Ponzi and pyramid operations. A sou-sou (also “susu”) is a type of informal savings club involving a small group of people within communities, families and workplaces who make contributions to a common fund with rotating disbursements of the pool of funds to members of the group. The concept is said to originate in West Africa and is in evidence throughout the Caribbean. In countries such as Antigua and Barbuda and Guyana, it is also known as “Box Hand”. “Partner” (also “Paadna”) plans are based on the same system and is popular in Jamaica.