September 27, 2022

Long awaited corruption trial to open on Tuesday

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michael_misick14From TCI News Now

The trial of former premier Michael Misick and nine co-defendants on multiple charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering will begin on Tuesday at the Supreme Court in Providenciales and is expected to last six months.

It is understood that procedural issues will be dealt with by the court until December 18 and the trial will then resume on January 18, 2016.

The trial results from a lengthy investigation into alleged systemic corruption in the TCI during the 2003-2009 Misick administration. A 2009 Commission of Inquiry report also resulted in the suspension of internal self-government in the TCI and the imposition of direct rule from Britain for three years until 2012.

Almost the entire elected cabinet led by Misick has been indicted, including the former premier, ministers, their relatives and attorneys.

Misick later fled the territory but was extradited from Brazil, arriving back in the TCI last year on a US government plane. He is currently free in the islands on a ten million dollar bond.

The defendants are: former premier Michael Misick; former cabinet ministers McAllister Hanchell, Jeffrey Hall, Lillian Boyce and Floyd Hall; Lisa Hall (wife of Floyd Hall); local attorneys Melbourne Wilson and Chalmers Misick (brother of Michael Misick); Quinton Hall (brother of Floyd Hall); and Earlson Robinson (brother of Lillian Boyce).

The special investigation and prosecution team (SIPT) set up by Britain in the wake of the Commission of Enquiry report has already secured guilty pleas and convictions against at least one major property developer, with other developers reportedly receiving special treatment and confidential settlements that the public has still not been informed about.

A corresponding civil recovery unit has unraveled tens of millions of dollars of corrupt transaction.

However, public interest in the trial has waned as a result of delays that were said to be part of a calculated strategy by Misick and others to secure a more sympathetic public environment when the charges are finally tried in court.

In August, the current premier, Dr Rufus Ewing, and elected cabinet ministers denied a request for additional funding for increased security costs for the trial, prompting the territory’s governor to step in and direct the chief financial officer (CFO) to make arrangements for the police commissioner to receive the additional funds requested.

Governor Peter Beckingham said he was satisfied that the additional funds were necessary to provide security in the TCI and went on to outline the effects on the territory and its economy should an act of terrorism occur linked to the corruption trial.

“Were there to be any criminal activity linked to the trial, the impact on overseas tourism, especially from North America, would be catastrophic for the long term economy of Turks and Caicos, the welfare of its citizens, and the confidence of the business community,” he said.

“It would be a cruel blow for TCI if its recent successes were blemished and damaged in the long term by criminal acts of violence around the time of the forthcoming trial,” Beckingham noted.

According to local residents at the time, the governor’s comments about violent acts of terrorism were new and alarming; leading to speculation that the police or prosecutors may have some intelligence that violence is intended during the trials.

IMAGE: Former premier Michael Misick

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