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SIPT Opening Statement brings anticipation for evidence, Proceedings resume today

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Providenciales, 15 Feb 2016 – Evidence will today begin being presented against the men and women accused of abusing their government power and connections to defraud the public purse of the Turks and Caicos of tens of millions of dollars.

When the Special Prosecution proceedings wrapped up on the Friday February 5, 2016, Andrew Mitchell laid out that in six years Michael Misick, the former premier managed to spend over $28 million dollars on a lavish lifestyle; and that it was ill gotten monies which he allegedly siphoned from the people of the TCI.

The special prosecutor says Misick used his government credit card for personal purchases, and allegedly tried to force TCIG to pay for it…. That he paid school fees for ex-wife LisaRaye’s daughter… that he chartered planes and yachts, allegedly at the expense of the people of the TCI and that he had many companies set up to allegedly launder money.

Misick had told media before the holidays in 2015 that he would not take a plea deal in this case because he is completely innocent of all charges.

Still, Mitchell painted a very different and compelling picture of Michael Eugene Misick and his colleagues in an opening statement which lasted three weeks.

When it came to the ex deputy premier, Mitchell summed up that Floyd and Lisa Hall went from having no declarations once he became a member of parliament to having a whole lot. The former PNP deputy leader is charged with funneling money on deals made while in office through the PNP account to his own; that he got, allegedly, some $1.13 million from government and as Mitchell put it, his spending was inconsistent with his government salary… $700,000 was said to have been his credit card bill alone.

When it came to McCallister Hanchell, the former Minister of Lands it was also about drawing the contrast between Hanchell’s beginnings in government and his declarations as a House of Assembly member over time. There were hardly any declaration of assets in the beginning, but that mushroomed as did Hanchell’s personal account and assets over the years. A one million dollar wedding, $1.2 million in credit card spending, a near million dollar house in Chalk Sound and payments from the PNP of $113,000 were all linked to Hanchell by the Special Prosecutor.

When it came to Lillian Boyce, the former Health and Education Minister it was about the $1 million cheque her brother, Earlson Robinson received from a North West Point land deal and money she told the SIPT was loaned to her by him and money loaned to Michael Misick by them both.

This is the one charge against Boyce, who is alleged to have gained $1.3 million from TCIG and who also never received any payment from the PNP party account.

Andrew Mitchell, QC also said Jeffrey Hall benefited from what he called the spoils power as his declarations showed amassing properties and showed hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits to the former Minister of Housing.

This allegedly included a payment from the PNP party, often through the bank account of his wife and an individual named as Charles Hall.

Jeffrey Hall, unlike Lillian Boyce did not cooperate with an interview with the SIPT.

The Crown charges Chal Misick, attorney brother of Michael Misick with assisting the laundering of money from corrupt and dishonest activities for his brother and others. The SIPT charges that Chal Misick played a leading role, but he too declined to answer any SIPT questions.

Still the Crown said Chalmers must have known what he was doing and demonstrated various payments made on behalf of the former premier. Even a chart was created to show the rise of income for Mike Misick.

Another attorney, Clayton Greene, who is also former Speaker of the House of Assembly is caught up in a one million dollar transaction linked to the Juniper Hold land deal. Reportedly, Greene, who is Floyd Hall’s first cousin deposited the million dollars to TCI Bank in an account, owed by Quinten Hall, Floyd Hall’s brother.

The SIPT charges Greene with money laundering for this action.

The final presentation on that final opening statement day related to Melbourne Wilson, also an attorney who did cooperate with an interview but for the most part told the SIPT that he could not remember the finer details of a transaction related to the North West Point Land deal.

Wilson described himself as the close friend of Jeffrey Hall; he is answering for allegedly laundering $200,000.

When court resumes today, in all that Andrew Mitchell, QC has already laid out – he now says he will provide the evidence to support the allegations against the nine defendants.

Ralph Thorne, QC for Michael Misick is due to first give his response to the Opening Statement by Mitchell.

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Caribbean News

Barbados to Host 41st Caribbean Travel Marketplace this Spring

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

 

#Barbados, February 2, 2023 – Barbados has been selected to host the 41st edition of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace. The event will be held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Bridgetown from May 9 -11, and it is expected to build on the success of the 40th staging held in Puerto Rico last fall.

CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig, who made the announcement recently, said it’s the first time in the organization’s history that the association’s largest annual event, which brings together buyers and sellers of the region’s tourism products and services, will be staged in Barbados.

“CHTA has a very strong relationship with both public and private sector stakeholders in Barbados, and as we position the region’s top earner for robust growth this year, we are delighted to lock arms with our Bajan partners to drive business to the Caribbean,” she stated.

Noting that: “This year’s Marketplace will also provide unique access to the Eastern Caribbean for buyers and tour operators as the region places a strong focus on the revival of multi-destination travel.”

Minister of Tourism and International Transport of Barbados Ian Gooding-Edghill, said the Barbados tourism industry was undergoing a major renaissance in the post-COVID environment, and the timing could not be better to welcome Caribbean Travel Marketplace to local soil.

“We are honoured to host such a preeminent gathering of tourism stakeholders from around the world,”  Minister Gooding-Edghill said, noting that the meeting aligns with Barbados’ value offerings, which appeal, among others, to the very important MICE [Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions] market.

The launch of the first Caribbean Travel Forum & Awards, a highlight of the Puerto Rico meeting, will return for a second edition and will be held in Barbados on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, ahead of the official opening ceremony of Caribbean Travel Marketplace.

The Forum will also focus on the business of tourism, and business appointments will be conducted on Wednesday, May 10 and Thursday, May 11.

Over 150 delegates, including Ministers of Tourism and key private sector leaders, engaged in the Caribbean Travel Forum last year.

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Bahamas News

National Food Policy to be created in the Bahamas

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

 

#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs in the Bahamas will see the creation of a National Food Policy geared towards ensuring food security on the island.

“This agricultural policy would encompass a holistic approach and incorporate regulations, legislation, and other aspects to assist the farmers who have not really gotten the attention they deserve for a long time,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Hon. Clay Sweeting.

Other initiatives within the agriculture sector will also be implemented, such as the digitalization of applications and forms, which will make farming more efficient.

Clay said, “we have already digitalized for the most part the Department of Marine Resources and soon we will unveil new services such as dog licences, import permits, and other services needed for a successful agricultural sector.”

The construction of the Cultivation Centres (TCC) in Eleuthera and New Providence with produce exchange, food processing kitchens and farm stores will continue.

Sweeting said he hopes these initiatives will help to decrease the country’s yearly $1 billion food import bill.

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Africa

The Incredible Story of David Avido of Kenya, 24 Year old designing for the Grass Roots to the Stars

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

 

#Africa, February 2, 2023 – One Kenyan designer began a sewing business out of the slums where he was born; now he dresses some of the Caribbean and Africa’s most famous faces.

Born the oldest son of a single mother and from Kibera Nairobi, David Avido Ochieng did not have an easy start. In Kibera, the largest urban slum in East Africa opportunities for international success are hard to come by and yet Avido can now say he has dressed the likes of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Beyoncé, Chronixx, Romain Virgo, Tarrus Riley, Chris Martin, Ty Dolla Sign, Koffee and many more.

As explained on his website, David dropped out of school to work and support his family quite young. In just first form he was working on a construction site but he knew he wanted more from life. After quitting his job he danced and saved what he could and tried his best to complete his education.

He told Vogue magazine: “When I started dancing I used to save money in order to go back to high school, with the little that I could get from dancing and my mom’s money from doing work as a house help, we were able to raise 15,000 shillings and with that, I joined an adult school and skipped forms two, three and four.”

David picked up a sewing machine to make costumes and realized his talent.  By 2015, his brand LookslikeAvido was born. He completed a fashion & design diploma at Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts and began to sew incredible pieces right at home in Kibera.  Even as his brand is globally recognized, Kibera is where his workshop remains; David says, his homeland is his great inspiration.

“There is no barrier if you believe in your talent and take the next step. I want to encourage and create beauty, where people don’t expect.”

Talented and thoughtful Avido is well aware of the stereotypes surrounding him, his home and the black community globally.

“We know about injustice and violence, prejudice, racial and social discrimination – we experience it within Kenya and we experience it globally, as people look at us as the poor, the uneducated, the needy,” he said.

Featured in Vogue, CNN and other international publications, Avido remains connected to his origins in a tangible way and as his success grows his roots just go deeper. Twenty per cent of all sales of his jackets and other clothing items go directly back to Kibera; his website explains ​that all the tailoring, product photoshoots and collaborations ‘is all done here in Kibra.’

There is no fabric waste from his garments, instead, scraps are repurposed into masks and shopping bags for residents, all his tailors are local residents, a portion of profits are used to pay school fees and Avido and his team put in extra time to make school uniforms as well.

On his website, is a photo of him sitting around a sewing machine, his worktable resting on hard-packed earth with presumably a group of family and friends surrounding him, a source of pride. The introspective photograph could have been taken in Nairobi, Trinidad or Barbados, so nostalgic is the picture, the bench and the story of community success that it represents.

In a video posted to his YouTube, David sits at his new work desk, and beside him hangs a rack of clothes in the cramped space that serves as his kitchen as well.

“I’m the firstborn of Kibera,” He explains, “Every kid in Kibera is looking up to me— my main dream is to open up a place where I can inspire people to work.”

David has a dozen employees and is listed in Beyonce’s directory of black businesses; with an uncommon wisdom, the designer knows that his successes so far are not parking spaces but rather stepping stones as he faces his future announcing that the journey, for him, continues.

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