Cayman -Mckeeva Bush Ran Up $33k Debt – Trial Begins
(Cayman News Service):As the former premier’s slot machine gambling appeared to intensify in the early months of 2010, the crown said McKeeva Bush ran up a debt of over $33,000 withdrawing cash on his Cayman Islands Government credit card to play in casinos in the US and the Bahamas. During a week’s trip to Vegas in February, Bush was gambling hard and withdrew over $12,000 cash on the card and just a few weeks later on a short official trip to the Bahamas and Miami he touched the card for more than $17,000, the court heard Tuesday as Bush’s trial continued. These amounts were on top of an existing and mounting cash debt already on the card. At that time, the crown said, Bush hadn’t made any payments back to government since December 2009 leaving the public purse to carry the debt burden.
During the second day of the leader of the opposition’s trial for corruption and misconduct offences the jury heard that Bush’s efforts to get cash intensified, in 2010 as did his hours at the slots as well as his losses
Counsel representing the crown, Duncan Penny QC, told the jury that while Bush paid back some of the $33,000 several weeks after his gambling trips there was a sum of more than $10,000 outstanding which remained that way for more than two and a half years. It was not until the premier learned that his credit card statements were being investigated by police that he paid back the remaining debt, Penny told the court, as he began to wrap up his opening statement describing the crown’s case relating to the abuse of Bush’s government corporate credit card.
Penny detailed the major withdrawals during two trips in 2010 where Bush’s use of his government card across the casinos grew as he accessed much larger amounts including his single largest cash withdrawal on the corporate card in Florida in March when he cashed $4000 on the casino floor.
Having lost over $57,000 in Vegas, during a week-long personal trip which he had combined with a brief official appearance at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where he also gambled, Bush lost a further $45,000 in Florida a month later. He also was said to have lost an unknown amount in the Bahamas, where he was drawing money from various casinos. All of this was adding to his own personal credit card debts as well as the mounting personal bill on his CIG card.
Describing the acceleration in the credit card debt, as he completed the summary of the crown’s case, Penny explained that Bush had begun to use the cashier system on the casino floors and sign for the credit card cash advances rather than use the ATMs. The lawyer said this was because Bush was able to access more cash that way than via the teller machines which limited his daily cash amounts.
“The defendant became wise to the fact that the credit card was limited at the ATM to just $1000 per day,” he said, explaining that Bush began using the cashier services where he could sign for cash. Having started the previous July taking $500 here and $100 there on the government card Bush was now making withdrawals in the $1000s.
The lawyers said that the money Bush was “so keen to get his hands on was going back into the hungry machines” as he added to his loses.
Following the loss of more than a quarter of a million dollars since July 09 of his own money as well as that he had borrowed from the public purse, the court heard that Bush appeared to be in no hurry to pay back what he owed when he returned from the March trip.
On his return from the Bahamas and Florida, having taken well over $17,000 in cash on the casino floors or from ATMs during the four day trip, which was for tourism related business, he made no immediate payments when he was sent the reconciliation memo as usual in the immediate wake of the official travel. Despite knowing, the crown’s attorney claimed, that the money he had taken on that card was not for any legitimate business purpose, Bush made no effort to make prompt payment to return the public money.
However, some six weeks later he made the first of three random payments.
The first was for CI$9,000 on 1 April then three weeks later a second cheque was written for US$13,000 and shortly after one for a CI$1000. A further trip after that in which he drew just $1000 in cash from a Florida Casino while playing the slots, according to the loyalty card, left an estimated debt of just over CI$10,000 which remained that way for about two and a half years.
Despite efforts being made by some civil servants to press Bush to reconcile his credit card either with receipts or a written explanation or to pay back outstanding personal sums there was no money forthcoming from the premier until the matter was under investigation by the police.
In early November 2012, the police issued a production order to the deputy governor for the premier’s credit card statements which were handed over to the investigating officers. Bush appears to have heard about the investigation into his cards and called Franz Manderson, the deputy governor, to ask him if his statements had been given to the police, which the top civil servant confirmed was correct. It was then that Bush said he had not known about the outstanding balance and made another payment of some $9000 to the government coffers.
As he summarized the crown’s case against him Penny told the jury that Bush had breached his duty as a premier when he abused the card and allowed the public purse to carry a growing debt burden which was down to the then premier’s risky and addictive gambling habit. He said Bush began treating the government card like his own personal card as soon as it was given to him and his using the card for gambling was an affront to his high office.
He said Bush had shown a disregard for the public trust when he used that card in casinos to get cash for gambling and then made no effort to pay it back before government began to carry the debt. “He allowed government to carry the burden to the tune of $10,000 for two and a half years and only paid it back when he was aware of the investigation,” the lawyer said.
Penny closed his opening statement to the jury at around 11-30am on Tuesday morning.
Bush has persistently denied the allegations against him, which include 11 counts of breach of trust and misconduct in public office, all of which relate to cash withdrawals at casinos made on a government credit card during his first year in office after he was re-elected in 2009 as the country’s leader. Bush has described the charges as a political witch-hunt to discredit him and the Cayman Islands by the FCO.
The case continues in Grand Court One on Wednesday at 10am with the crown’s first witness, the financial secretary Kenneth Jefferson.
Shot male victim identified
#TurksandCaicos, June 9, 2023 – The male victim shot dead on June 07th, while seated in a parked vehicle has been identified as 25-year-old Karo Outten.
Outten, whose last known address was Five Cays, Providenciales, was shot multiple times in a vehicle, at a Tire Shop along South Dock Road.
Commissioner of Police (ag) Rodney Adams in condemning the midday brazen killing said: “The South Dock community and its environs are reeling from the destructive actions of a few criminal elements desirous of continuing along the path of lawlessness. This incident occurred on the premises of a business place during which time, persons were conducting transactions and going about their errands in surrounding areas. The RTCIPF will not dodge our responsibility and wishes to assure the public that our Serious Crime Unit is actively pursuing all leads in a bid to arrest and charge the perpetrators. At the same time, the RTCIPF will ensure there is a sense of calm and security within the public domain”.
The RTCIPF can confirm this is the fifth murder of the year (June 08th).
Persons with information on this murder can communicate directly through any police station or call 911.
US VP Kamala Harris and PM Davis Co-Host US-Caribbean Leaders Meeting, in The Bahamas
NASSAU, The Bahamas — Vice-President of the United States Kamala Harris arrived in The Bahamas on Air Force 2, landing at Odyssey Aviation, on June 8, 2023. She became the highest-ranking sitting US official to visit The Bahamas, since its Independence in 1973. Vice-President Harris joined Prime Minister and Minister Finance the Hon. Philip Davis in co-hosting the US-Caribbean Leaders Meeting, which was held at Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Thursday.
Among those there to greet her upon her arrival were Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service the Hon. Frederick Mitchell; Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin; Minister of State for the Public Service the Hon. Pia Glover-Rolle; US Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Ms. Usha E. Pitts; senior representatives of the Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Forces and a combined forces Colour Guard; special invited guests; civic and social group representatives; local members of her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority family; and students from a number of public and private schools.
As her convoy made its way to Paradise Island, scores of onlookers – many of them tourists who were on vacation – cheered and waved, many with cellphones in hand to capture a glimpse of the historic visit.
Before the US-Caribbean Leaders Meeting, Prime Minister Davis greeted Vice-President Harris and they were the leads in a Bilateral Meeting. Also present for that meeting were various Cabinet Ministers.
According to the Office of the Prime Minister’s social media pages, both nations reaffirmed their commitment to fortify connections and address important regional concerns by building on their prior engagements. Their dialogue also reportedly paved the way for a successful summit, later that day, with a focus on attaining goals for sustainable development and climate resilience. Topics that were discussed, according to the Prime Minister’s social media pages, were collaboration and progress on climate change, regional security, and economic development.
After the Bilateral meeting, they took part in the multilateral US-Caribbean Leaders Meeting. During his Public Opening Statement to the Press, Prime Minister Davis welcomed visiting “friends and colleagues” to The Bahamas.
“Today, we are very pleased to welcome Vice-President Harris to join our Caribbean nations,” Prime Minister Davis said. “Madam Vice-President: I believe we all feel and appreciate the depth and sincerity of your commitment to the region and to our people. We will make the most of our time together, I’m sure.
“Indeed, our discussions will cover a broad range of issues: Energy and Food Security, Climate Resilience, Development Finance and Economic Opportunity, and Regional Co-operation and Security,” he added. “The agenda is ambitious – reflecting the urgency of addressing these challenges, and the real opportunity we see to make progress.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that they were not “starting anew”; but were building on the work and dialogue of June 2022’s Summit of the Americas, in Los Angeles, and in regional meetings held since.
“Coming together here in The Bahamas, let us seize the moment — to accelerate and deepen our engagement, and to work together to produce tangible outcomes,” he said.
“Madam Vice-President: it has been many years since we had an official visit from a President or Vice-President of The United States,” Prime Minister Davis added. “You hosted us very graciously at the White House earlier this year, and today I have the honour of extending to you our warmest welcome.
“We look forward to working together in close partnership to build solutions and a better way forward for us all.”
During her remarks, Vice-President Harris congratulated The Bahamas and CARICOM on their respective 50th anniversaries.
She also pointed out that as neighbors, the United States shared common bonds and interests with the Caribbean nations. She added that the partnership, was essential to “our mutual security and prosperity.”
“Our nations have extensive people-to-people ties,” Vice-President Harris said. “In fact, in the United States this month, we celebrate Caribbean American Heritage Month.”
She added: “Strengthening the U.S.-Caribbean relationship is a priority for me, as it is for President Joe Biden. And these meetings have proven — I believe, at a leader level, have proven to be very important and essential to the strength of these relationships.”
Vice-President Harris noted that, regarding the “existential threat” of the climate crisis, Caribbean nations were on the front lines. She pointed out that the US and regional leaders had discussed, for example, powerful storms that can wipe out economic progress; low-lying islands that face erosion, flooding, and deadly storm surge from rising seas.
“These discussions resulted in the launch of our U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis — or, as we call it, PACC 2030 — last year at the Summit of the Americas,” she noted. “PACC 2030 is designed to help accelerate the Caribbean’s transition to clean energy and to promote energy security and climate resilience.”
Vice-President Harris stated that, since they last met in Los Angeles in 2022, the United States had helped to facilitate clean energy projects throughout the region.
She said: “I’ll offer some examples: in St. Lucia, the work that we have done thus far to deploy solar microgrids to power schools, hospitals, and water treatment plants; Dominica and St. Kitts, to develop commercial geothermal power projects; Antigua and Barbuda, to train a clean energy workforce; and the Dominican Republic, to integrate battery storage in their energy grid.”
“Our work together has also helped build capacity for disaster preparedness,” she added. “For example, the administrator of NOAA led a group of U.S. experts to Barbados to support regional resilience, including early warning systems and sharing climate information with communities.”
Vice President Harris said that they established a network of Caribbean-based scientific experts to create new climate mitigation and adaptation methods; and in Jamaica, they are helping develop a national emergency commercial infrastructure and communications infrastructure.
“Since we last met, we have also worked to bring investors to the Caribbean to identify new opportunities for clean energy infrastructure, including through trade missions,” she said. “We have provided $28 million in food security assistance. And we have invested in the Blue-Green Investment Corporation, spearheaded by Barbados, which we expect to unlock up to $210 million over three years.”
Vice-President Harris pointed out that it was her pleasure to announce additional PACC 2030 investments.
She said: “One, specifically, a $20 million investment in the Caribbean Climate Investment Program to help incentivize the private sector to partner with Caribbean nations to develop more clean energy technologies, like microgrids and energy storage systems, and to help businesses become more energy efficient in their operations.”
“And, second, a $15 million investment to support emergency response efforts and strengthen the capacity of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency,” she added. “This investment is intended to help develop new early warning systems and pre-position first aid equipment and generators.”
“As a follow-up to this convening, in fact, tomorrow the Atlantic Council and RMI are hosting a PACC 2030 summit here in Nassau,” Vice-President Harris announced. “There, we will work with these and other organizations to facilitate connections between the United States government, the private sector, NGOs, and philanthropic organizations, and officials here in the Caribbean to identify, build, and operate new clean energy projects.”
She noted that another key area of the United States’ work with the Caribbean, through PACC 2030, was to increase access to development financing. She added that, to that end, she met with the new President of the World Bank, Ajay Banga, earlier that week, and informed him that the United States will lead a diplomatic campaign on multilateral development bank reform.
“My conversations with the leaders at this table helped inform our administration’s approach,” she revealed. “We seek more available and — availability of low-cost concessional financing to nations in the Caribbean. And we believe addressing the climate crisis should be a critical part of the mission of the World Bank.
“More broadly, new debt must include disaster clauses to allow a pause on debt payments immediately following a natural disaster.”
Vice-President Harris pointed out that they wanted the bank to better mobilize the private sector in support of those goals.
“Implementation of these reforms will have a major impact on countries in the Caribbean, and we aim to achieve these key reforms by the G20 meeting this fall,” she said.
“At my invitation, President Banga will join our meeting today virtually in just a few minutes.”
Vice-President Harris said that, on the issue of security, too many people in all of their countries were dying from gun violence.
“I will reiterate that our administration is committed to disrupt gun trafficking,” she said. “We are committed to interdict shipments of arms and ammunition and hold traffickers accountable.”
“And today, I am pleased to announce that the United States Department of Justice will create a new position, a Coordinator for Caribbean Firearms Prosecutions, which will help maximize information sharing between our countries to support the prosecution of traffickers,” Vice-President Harris shared.
“This effort will be aided by the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which President Biden signed last year, and includes new federal criminal offenses for firearms trafficking and straw purchases,” she added.
Vice-President Harris noted that, in addition, through the U.S. law enforcement agencies, they were supporting a recently established Caribbean Crime Gun Intelligence Unit in Trinidad and Tobago to train officials in firearms investigations and help bring criminals to justice.
“And we will stand up a Haiti Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit in collaboration with the Haitian National Police to facilitate investigation and prosecution of firearms and human trafficking, which affects the entire region,” she said.
“More broadly on the issue of Haiti: First, I will say that our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones and all who have been impacted by, just this week alone, the flooding and the earthquake,” she added. “The international community must continue to support the Haitian people in light of the devastating humanitarian and security crisis in that country.”
Vice-President Harris stated that the United States supported the development of a multinational force to Haiti.
“And today I’m pleased to announce $53.7 million in new humanitarian aid for Haiti,” she added. “In addition, our administration will support the extension of HOPE-HELP trade preferences for Haiti, which are due for renewal in 2025.”
Vice-President Harris noted that, in response to “longstanding requests from our Caribbean partners”, she was pleased to announce that the Biden-Harris administration had begun to process to establish an expanded diplomatic presence in the Eastern Caribbean, including two new embassies.
She said: “In conclusion: From the climate crisis, to development financing, to security, and Haiti and diplomatic presence, we have achieved substantial progress in the last two years based on shared priorities, many of which have been formed and discussed through these convenings that we have had over the last two years.”
“We are neighbors in the Western Hemisphere,” Vice-President Harris noted. “And the security and prosperity of this region requires the type of collaboration and partnership that we have developed and continued to grow over the last two years.
“It is the full intention of our administration and the United States to continue this good work, knowing, of course, there is more to do but that progress has been made. And so, again, I thank the leaders at this table and, Mr. Prime Minister, you, again, for hosting us.”
After the Multilateral Meeting, Vice-President Harris left Paradise Island, her convoy passing more waving onlookers – and rush-hour traffic – before being greeted back at Odyssey Aviation by the Colour Guard. Minister Mitchell, Ms. Usha Pitts, representative heads of the Royal Bahamas Defence and Police Forces, and members of local US Embassy bade her farewell.
As she waved from the top of the stairs, she appeared to pause a little, to catch a glimpse of the setting sun, before she entered Air Force 2.
(BIS Photos/Eric Rose)
OPERATION PURSUIT -Restaurants and Bars ordered closed
#TurksandCaicos, June 9, 2023 – FIVE Restaurants and Bars in Providenciales were yesterday evening (June 07th) served with Closure Notices after public health officials swooped down on their premises and found expired items used in the preparation of food.
Additionally, nine persons were apprehended and taken to the Detention Center for processing, and a number of prohibited items were confiscated.
At 6:40 p.m.the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force in collaboration with the Immigration Enforcement Unit, Customs Department, Environmental Health Department, and the Revenue Control Unit, arrived at a Liquor License premises along the Millennium Highway.
While at this location, it was observed that several persons were working Contrary to their Work Permits. A warning was issued, and two individuals – male and female were apprehended.
The Officers also conducted a search at a bar located in Kew Town behind the Ball Park.
A total of seven individuals (four males and three females) were apprehended and taken to the Detention Center for Processing. At this location, a number of prohibited items were seized.
Overall, several restaurants and cafeterias were served notices to close for failure to comply with health regulations. A number of items used for cooking and mixing alcoholic drinks were seized:
The items included:
- Expired/dented: Carnation evaporated milk – 63 cans
- Expired: Bluebird orange juice – 10 bottles
- 60 lbs. of raw and cooked meat (chicken and pork) – held at improper temperatures
- 20 lbs. of raw meat (fish, beef, and pork) – held at improper temperatures
The Environmental Health Department Closure Notice Ordinance states:
Failure to comply with this closure notice may result in one or more of the following as outlined in the Food & Drug Ordinance 2016, Part III (Sections 31 & 32).
A person who commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $10,000 (ten thousand dollars) or to a term of imprisonment for 12 (twelve) months or both.
If a person is convicted of an offence under this ordinance the court may on conviction, and on an application by or on behalf of the Chief Environmental Health Officer (Director) order that any license the person holds to operate such a business be suspended for a period specified in the order, or revoked.
These collaborative activities form part of “Operation Pursuit”.
Operation Pursuit involves a Multi-Agency operational framework, designed to locate, identify, and process persons engaged in ALL illegal activities within the TCI. These operations entail a collaborative effort from all our essential partners at the re-established Turks Caicos Islands Joint Law Enforcement Group (J-LEG).
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