Before saying anything about the pathetic appearance of IRAC’s CEO and Chair Scott MacKenzie and Vice-CEO Doug Clow at the Legislative Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Sustainability yesterday [February 18, 2021], I want to first remind you that I have already provided definitive proof that:
“In 2015, IRAC was made aware that a powerful individual – General Lu – paid (in cash) the property taxes for FOUR separate Buddhist corporations and an undisclosed number of Buddhist nuns, monks and laypersons who had purchased land. IRAC conducted a multi-year investigation into that matter in secret, then apparently closed the file in 2019 with no penalties for what clearly appears to me to be fraud.”
Scott MacKenzie and Doug Clow appeared at the Committee yesterday with one goal in mind: say not a single word about that investigation into the Buddhists, not even acknowledging that it ever even took place. And that’s what happened: Mackenzie pleaded the 5th degree, to the 9th degree!
I first broke the story about IRAC’s Buddhist investigation last November and December in two successive episodes of my Monkileaks investigative series, however, I didn’t provide a lot of detail about it at that time, focusing on how the nuns had circumvented the Lands Protection Act while under investigation by IRAC, and the failure of IRAC to make anything of that investigation public knowledge:
“When IRAC began an investigation into GEBIS and GWBI in 2015-16, there was a ‘freeze’ on any further land purchases. GWBI purchased a large property in Brudenell during that time with the names of 5 parishioners (laypeople) to avoid IRAC application, which was explicitly stated as the purpose of purchasing that way…to evade IRAC.” [Zhenru: Master of Bliss and Wisdom Buddhists, November 13,2020].
“If IRAC hadn’t stopped making the reports from the investigation public some time ago, Islanders like me would be able to get more information that might shed some light on exactly what IRAC investigated about the Buddhists, why they investigated the Buddhists in the first place, and what the outcome of that investigation was….I don’t recall any Guardian or CBC story, nor Eastern Graphic coverage; however, can’t say I read enough to be sure I didn’t miss it.” [Monkileaks: “Putting Down Roots,” December 6, 2020].
I provided a significant amount of additional detail in a more recent article, a section of which I reproduce in the summary of this article.
I believe the evidence that spurred that 2015-2019 IRAC investigation was information that multiple corporate entities were being used by one corporate entity – Bliss and Wisdom Inc. based in Taiwan – to acquire land acreage FAR EXCEEDING THE CORPORATE LAND LIMITS stipulated in the Lands Protection Act.
Mum’s the Word at Committee
None of the above information about the Buddhists was mentioned – or even allowed to be mentioned – by the Committee members, as per a stern warning from Scott MacKenzie at the outset of the meeting.
When Chair Cory Deagle turned the floor over to MacKenzie for him to give a presentation, to be followed by questions, MacKenzie took the opportunity to first read a statement informing and warning the Committee members that they were at no time to ask anything of any significance about anything of any importance whatsoever!
Kudos to MLA and Chair of the Committee, Cory Deagle, for noting for the record the inappropriateness of MacKenzie lecturing the Committee for a very long time, as Cory pointed out, in fact, a longer period of time than the actual presentation:
On the pretense of being “totally independent,” this powerful public body that is supposed to serve Islanders is not only allowed to work in secret to cover-up what I believe is a MASSIVE violation of the Lands Protection Act that should result in the divestment of thousands of acres of land, it apparently ALSO forbids our elected representatives on all-Party legislative Committees from asking IRAC anything about that fraud and coverup!
That’s a system that has to change.
With the Spring sitting of the Legislative Assembly opening imminently, I really hope someone will put what I’ve already made public [but no one in the government or media have yet to mention] on the official public record – Hansard!
Scott Mackenzie brought two things to the committee: (1) loads of legalese, which, from all appearances, he used liberally to bully and intimidate the committee; and (2) NO useful or insightful information about anything.
MacKenzie was not about to allow so much as a crack to open. He knew full-well that a crack would quickly become a chasm into which he’d slide and from which he would not be able to escape.
Listen to the legalese from MacKenzie after Ms. Beaton’s seemingly innocent question concerning whether IRAC had ever investigated the Buddhists, saying nothing at all with a lot of words. However, the otherwise mute Mr. Clow appears to have nervously beat MacKenzie to the punch with a quick “no” response to Beaton’s question right off the bat, if you listen carefully. If indeed that is his voice saying “no” – well, that would be a big lie:
We are truly in an unbelievable and untenable situation with IRAC. This independent “quasi-judicial” body can not only refuse to provide any information to a Legislative Committee concerning a scandal that has already been made public but ignored by both government and media; it doesn’t even feel it needs to confirm to our elected officials that any investigation ever took place. That’s unacceptable.
But the zipper-mouthed resolve and what sounds like verbal abuse and bad manners to me didn’t stop there!
Ms. Beaton also wanted to know what would serve as a trigger for IRAC to begin an investigation. She asked if an issue that was in the news and of concern to many Islanders could trigger an investigation, and MacKenzie said it could. She then asked why IRAC did not start an investigation into the Brendel Farms land deal since the Lands Protection Act empowers IRAC to initiate such investigations on its own – which was a totally fair question – but MacKenzie went ballistic.
Listen to the brutal “shut-down” response MacKenzie vaulted at Beaton – on a question that was not in fact concerning “an investigation” at all, but rather WHY AN INVESTIGATION WAS NOT INITIATED BY IRAC WHEN IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN.
That was an entirely fair question. It didn’t compromise anyone’s privacy rights or IRAC’s status as an independent body. But MacKenzie had warned the Committee members not to ask him anything about anything important, so I guess he felt justified in pouring out his wrath on Beaton, falsely claiming that his hands were tied by law preventing him from answering her question. Complete nonsense!
Michelle asked one question about the Brendel Farms deal. Wow! Talk about touching a nerve.
I’m going to reproduce the section of my last Monklileaks article titled “Is this GUAN YIN Statue Still Part of the Buddhists’ Plan for PEI?,” published on January 28, 2021, to again present evidence supporting my belief that IRAC is currently engaged in a cover-up of a massive scandal regarding the Buddhists, and no one in Government apparently cares!
[Note: Still amazed that our “media” hasn’t considered Buddhist plans to build a statue of Guan Yin that’s more than 50 ft. higher than the Statute of Liberty plunked in the Buddha-nell River as newsworthy!]
Section from Previous Article
“I had mentioned in a previous article that the “General” was one of the powerful “three amigos” running the entire Bliss and Wisdom Inc. corporation and that he owns Master Zhenru’s PEI residence, as well as that huge complex that serves as the main headquarter offices for GEBIS and the hub of Bliss and Wisdom Inc.
I had also mentioned that it was the General who had issued that single cheque to pay the property taxes for those 5 Buddhist organizations and undisclosed number of Buddhists nuns, monks and followers, however, I didn’t offer any further details. I since learned that my earlier statement and claim was not entirely accurate. I’ll explain.
A good researcher never assumes anything, and I foolishly did exactly that when I said it was a single “cheque” that covered all those property taxes. They were paid with “cash”!
The following email from a lawyer to 2 of the 5 Buddhist corporations under investigation [Grain Essence and Splendid Essence] outlined 4 potential “options” as a legal strategy to respond to IRAC’s request for documentation relating to that tax payment incident.IRAC had ordered the Buddhist corps under investigation to cease purchasing properties. The monks and nuns and lay Bliss and Wisdom followers soon found a work-around (illegal mind you) that I’ll have a lot more to say about in subsequent episodes in this Monkileaks series.
The email to Grain Essence and Splendid Essence from their lawyer resulted in instructions to go with option #2, the significance of which I’ll not get into here. That decision was made for those two Buddhist corporations by a GEBIS monk, who apparently made the same decision and choice of legal response for all 5 of the Buddhist corporations, notwithstanding the different lawyers involved to maintain the appearance of independence.
It should also be pointed out that Master Zhenru was the owner of Splendid Essence and Director of Grain Essence at the time the IRAC investigation began in 2015, but for obvious reasons, removed herself at some later point and no longer appears as the owner and/or director of either corporation.
It was in that email to Grain Essence and Splendid Essence that I learned the payment was made using cash:
“As payments were made by cash, and the Order [from IRAC] requested copies of cheques, copies of confirmed cash payments are not being provided.”
Perhaps that’s part of the explanation IRAC might eventually give us as to why they took no action against the Buddhists when they closed the file on the investigation – maybe they went along or agreed with the Buddhists’ lawyers that it (IRAC) did not have the legal right to obtain the tax information documents, and without that information, could not show on paper what they knew in their heads, might as well just drop it and go with “mum’s the word”.
The fact that the folks at IRAC who were involved [likely Doug Clow and Scott Mackenzie] had already learned what they needed to know to take action in accordance with the Lands Protection Act seems not to have been considered important since no action was taken.
Will the Green Opposition members be asking Government what they intend to do about this situation regarding the illegitimate land purchases of thousands of acres by the Buddhists? And IRAC’s failure to properly deal with the matter when it was investigated, but then kept secret?
As I estimate it, Bliss and Wisdom Corporation [through it’s various “children” organizations, nuns, monks and laypeople] owns somewhere in the vicinity of 7,000 acres over the limit established by the Lands Protection Act, and I believe that’s something our closed-lipped CEO and Chair of IRAC, Scott MacKenzie, knows!
When the CEO and Chair of IRAC can throw a temper tantrum and shout down an MLA for simply asking why IRAC didn’t investigate a situation that should have been investigated (Brendel Farms) or whether an investigation ever took place (GEBIS, GWBI), the system is clearly broken and needs a major overhaul!
Why IRAC – MacKenzie and Clow – kept the Buddhist investigation under wraps and did nothing to remedy the problem, despite what I believe is clear evidence of fraud and the wanton circumvention and abuse of our law, remains a mystery to me.
Regarding the Brendel Farms fiasco, however, some Islanders believe IRAC never initiated an investigation on its own because Scott MacKenzie was a long-time senior partner of Stewart McKelvey, and Stewart McKelvey [Geoff Connolly] was acting as Irving’s legal counsel on the deal (notwithstanding also being the PEI Government’s main outside legal counsel [e.g., CMT lawsuit]).
In retrospect, with the appearance of a conflict of interest, Scott MacKenzie may not be the best person to be deciding on how much public concern is sufficient to “trigger” an IRAC investigation when it comes to Irving land purchases.