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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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Bahamas News

Minister Moxey says partnerships for development will help get Grand Bahama going again

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#TheBahamas, November 27, 2021 – One means by which Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey plans to utilize every resource at her disposal to get things moving for Grand Bahama again, is to utilize partnerships for development.

“Success with these partnerships on our island are embedded in collaborative efforts between the ministry of Grand Bahama, other government ministries, the Grand Bahama Port Authority, the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Hutchinson Whampoa Holdings Ltd., industry stakeholders and the business community at large,” explained Minister Moxey.

“We must unite and work together to build alliances for success with the ultimate goal of ensuring that Grand Bahama Island excels.  We are all in this together.”

The Minister’s remarks came during her keynote address at the ninth annual Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards Luncheon, which was held on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021 at Pelican Bay resort. The event is held to honor Grand Bahamian business owners for their commitment, achievements and dedication to the development of the second city.

Minister Moxey pointed out that this year’s event, under the theme, celebration of excellence, acknowledges and highlights businesses on Grand Bahama that have stayed the course. She added that this kind of recognition is a beacon of hope for local business owners who have faced and overcame some of the most challenging circumstances ever encountered within the island’s history.

“On November first during my contribution on the bill to thank the Governor General for his Speech from the Throne, I pledged to the nation that I would do the people’s business and utilize every resource at my disposal, to get the job done for Grand Bahama,” said Minister Moxey.

“As a Grand Bahamian and business owner, I can attest to the challenges we have faced over the past decade. The devastation of Hurricane Dorian in 2019, which was closely followed by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. It further strained our already fragile economy. Today’s administration is also well aware of the challenges that Grand Bahama has faced over the past decade. Nevertheless, we will deliver on our commitment to recover, rebuild and revolutionize our island, our economy and usher our people into the new day.

“I would like to thank all of the businesses represented today, that have kept their doors opened and our people employed. To all of the Business Excellence Award nominees, I congratulate you. Remain encouraged and know that your efforts have not gone unnoticed.

“To the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, thank you for being a staple in the business community and for celebrating excellence for the past nine years. Welcome back business excellence awards.”

 

By Andrew Coakley

Photo Caption: Minister for Grand Bahama, Ginger Moxey (right), along with President of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Greg Laroda presents Mrs. Leslie Baptista, of Paint Fair, with the President’s Award, during the ninth annual GB Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards Luncheon, which was held on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021 at Pelican Bay resort.

(BIS Photo/Andrew Miller)

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Caribbean Development Bank to offer solutions for TCI with Sea Defences

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 27, 2021 – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has committed $600,000 to investigate upgrades to sea defences in the Turks and Caicos Islands, disclosed by the Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Akierra Missick as she sought to reassure residents about the state of the defenses.

Concerns were raised by residents recently when the newly paved Front Street, Grand Turk was severely flooded because the sea wall was unable to hold back massive waves.

Minister Missick acknowledged the concerns but said that the government had been working on upgrades since August of this year. This, she said, had begun with a “holistic review of all of the island’s sea defenses.” It was revealed that this review is being done through an environmental consultancy agency.

The consultancy is set to run for 11 months.

At the end of the consultation period, the government should have what Missick described as shoreline characterization for Grand Turk and Salt Cay as well as designs for measures to break wave strength before it reaches shore and infrastructure upgrade designs for the entire coast of Grand Turk and Salt Cay.

Feasibility studies will be carried out alongside these infrastructure designs to determine their effectiveness.

Meetings between CDB and stakeholders including residents, tourism operators, engineers, coasts resource advisors, and others are set to occur over the 11 month time frame.

A coastal resource and vulnerability analysis is also set to be completed. This, Missick said, is a pre-emptive effort to prevent future problems.

Opposition leader Edwin Astwood spoke out regarding the flooding incident. He said the flooding was caused by faulty engineering of the sea wall rather than drainage along the road. In the House of Assembly on November 22, Astwood claimed the wall, which should have been built with a curve, was built flat.

Missick has not yet responded to the claims but has promised that CDB’s preliminary report should be tabled with Government by Summer 2022.

 

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Leading revenue earners need to include a boosted Financial Services Sector says Finance Minister Saunders

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 27, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos economy has surpassed expectations for revenue by almost $90 million dollars. Finance Minister E.Jay Saunders revealed the top four categories that spearheaded the increase, accounting for nearly 80 per cent of the revenue brought into the TCI.

The information was presented at a November 8 press conference where the Finance, Investment and Trade Minister also provided a simplified version of country finances in a Citizens’ Guide to the Budget.

Saunders said, in his presentation, that every single revenue item overachieved, pushing the original $271 million dollar budget to a projected $361 million.

The first category was Work Permits which is projected to have, a near $2 million dollar increase. Next was Accommodation Tax, which is projected to have an almost $15 million dollar increase in revenue, followed by Customs Import Duties with a projected $22 million dollar increase.  Finally, Stamp Duties rounded out the main four with a whopping $34 million projected increase.

He did warn that despite its brilliant performance, the TCI economy must diversify and do so soon. He cited supply chain issues that are currently affecting the global market saying that if even one of the major categories of revenue were to be affected it could be detrimental for the economy.

He said “Over 80% of our revenue comes from four categories…When we talk about diversifying this is one of the reasons why, because of anything happens to say, Customs Import duties it would be a disaster.”

In tandem with this call to diversify that the minister made significant mention of Financial Services as a fifth category for fiscal development. He said that despite the industry still being fairly small that “if the government can manage to grow it just a little bit it would make a huge difference.”

Cayman and the BVI were cited as examples of territories which had managed to build strong financial services sectors. He assured the press that, “The only thing we have to do is modernize our legislation and become more of a competitor…and we don’t need to increase our market share significantly to grab another 50 million dollars.”

In contrast, the biggest expenses were Salaries, Pensions, and Hospital charges with the Ministry of Health getting the bulk of the budget.

While the Finance Minister was pleased with the progress, he also expressed his determination that the TCIG be able to increase their now $360 million budget to $400 or even $500 million.

This, said Saunders, would allow the government to hit their 2040 goals to improve quality of life for TCI citizens.

 

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