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Privy Council rules in favour of TCI Government in South Caicos land dispute

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 22, 2022 – A 14-year old land dispute has reached its end, it seems, and the Turks and Caicos Islands Government escapes being sued for breach of contract in connection to a South Caicos property sold to private developers back in 2008.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government prevailed in the Privy Council case and has reclaimed yet another parcel of Crown Land that was sold, according to case files, in 2008 when a $100 million dollar development was proposed.

CMO BWI Ltd, also the developers for the Sail Rock resort on South, claimed the contract for the land (also) located in South Caicos was breached after an agreement and subsequent renegotiation went sour with the introduction of new law.  The developer filed a suit against the Government, saying TCIG reneged on its own agreement and aborted a perfectly legal contract.

According to case files provided at the Privy Council’s website, “CMO are the developers of property situated in South Caicos to whom the Government in 2008 granted the right to carry out a mixed-use development. The total cost of the development would be $100,000,000. The agreement included the right to restore and use, as part of the development, certain parcels of Crown land. These parcels were to be granted to the developers in the Downtown Restoration Lease at a peppercorn rent if and immediately after they had invested $2 million on Island Improvements.”

The breach, according to the complainant involved the transition from UK Direct Rule to TCI Governance in November 2012.  The new constitution now turned over Crown Land management to the Attorney General’s Chambers and established a Crown Land Recovery Unit which was charged with repossessing land sold off in allegedly ‘sketchy’ deals.

The then government, led by Michael Misick, former TCI Premier had agreed to the $100M project for South Caicos, which also roped in general improvements for the island.  CMO agreed to those terms and reportedly began investing in infrastructure enhancements just before the government they knew was gone.

UK Direct rule was imposed in 2009 and with it came a partial suspension of the TCI Constitution, locally elected and appointed leaders.

It put the project in limbo but in 2013, according to the case file, there was an amended agreement with the government which meant, “there was no longer a requirement for the Appellants to present proof of having expended $2m in order to obtain the Downtown Restoration Lease, although it was necessary for the Appellants to notify the government that they were ready to commence the island improvements.”

One day later, CMO informed the government they were ready to begin “island improvements” which meant the government had to execute the restoration lease. That did not happen however and it was nearly two more years before the TCI Government would take definitive action.  The action was to deny the Downtown Restoration Lease citing a new Crown Land Ordinance (CLO) had been written, which essentially nullified significant elements of the previous contract.

“In January 2015, TCIG gave formal notice that it would not grant the Downtown Restoration Parcels Lease, stating that it was precluded from doing so by Section 34 and Part B of Schedule 2 of the CLO with prevented it from entering into any lease unless it was at market rent, having followed the process prescribed by the CLO.”

In July 2016, the developers began proceedings in the Supreme Court which they lost and on July 11 this year, the case was heard at the Privy Council in London.

On November 3, the Privy Council maintained that the Court of Appeal was right in dismissing the Appellant’s appeal, agreeing that the contract in 2013 had canceled out the agreement in 2008 and that the 2013 agreement could not be carried out under the new TCI law.

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Covid-19 Update for Turks & Caicos

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#TurksandCaicos, January 23, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos recorded seven new Covid-19 cases in the period from January 8th to 14th pushing the county’s total active infections to 18.  Four of the seven new cases were in Providenciales and three were recorded in the nation’s capital Grand Turk.

There were six recoveries during the period and the current death toll remains at 38.

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Skerrit holds on as Dominica Prime Minister, Snap Elections decimates the Opposition UWP

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By Deandrea Hamilton and Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#Dominica, December 7, 2022 – The big story of the night was not that Roosevelt Skerrit and his Dominican Labour Party were able to hold onto electoral power in Dominica, but that independents caused an upset, denying the DLP a sweep of all 21 seats.

The snap election victory proved not to be a snap for Skerrit, who on a social media aired radio show congratulated the two independent candidates now holding seats in parliament.

Skerrit’s DLP was still unable to sway the constituents of Marigot and Salisbury; they continue to prefer other political options and this time, Anthony S. Charles won the Marigot constituency with 491 votes, securing – unofficially – a popular vote of 59.44 per cent.

Jesma Paul won with 617 votes with a voting turnout of 57.13 per cent and Lynsia Frank of DLP lost, receiving 463 votes 42.87 per cent from the Salisbury Constituency.

In a sixth consecutive political victory, the Dominical Labour Party gained one seat over their 2019 finish.  With a notable boundary change, the DLP took Rousea Central which had last time gone to the now, decimated UWP.

Elections are due every five years in Dominica; this election should have technically been held in 2024, however, Skerrit last month called the General Election early.

As prime minister he has the prerogative to call for an election anytime within the constitutionally mandated timeframe.  Still, the early call and boycott of the process by unprepared political parties drew in two election observer teams.

One from CARICOM, the other from the OAS.

Organization of American States dispatches team led by former Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie after concerns were voiced by residents and opposition members on the snap election called by Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to be held on December 6th the country’s leaders invited the Organisation of American States to witness the elections.

The OAS spoke to local media after ballots closed around 5pm explaining that for the most part they had not observed any questionable practices.

Perry Christie, former Bahamian Prime Minister who was part of the 16-person team told reporters

“We are aware of the extent to which there was concern about the electoral process. And or job simply is to make a report and recommendations all with the intention of advancing the democracy of this region— we are generally finding that the facilities are adequate, [though] there are one or two recommendations we will make.”

There were 15 seats up for contention since the ruling Dominica Labour Party was elected unopposed in five seats across the country as the main opposition party the United Workers’ Party boycotted the elections.

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Don’t be Spoofed!  Just Hang Up!

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#UnitedKingdom, December 7, 2022 – Spoofing’, it’s a silly sounding word for a very real cybersecurity threat, a sneaky exercise that criminals have used to defraud people around the globe.  In a single operation last month police found that at least 70,000 UK citizens had been scammed out of  £46 million through spoofing.

By now sensitization campaigns and news articles have warned about Lottery scamming and residents may well be aware not to send anyone who promises to make you a millionaire any money but what if the call is coming from your bank?  This is the premise of spoofing.  While it too happens over the phone it differs from lottery scamming in a big way.

“Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity.  Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust,” the US Federal Communications Commission explains.

They can choose to appear as tax officers, your local bank, government institutions etc.

So how do you know if someone is trying to use spoofing on you?  And how do you protect yourself and your hard earned money?

The FCC says these scammers usually use a script, because, despite their appearance they don’t actually know you, as soon as the conversation begins. they make it their mission to get as much information about you as possible.

  • Hang up as soon as you get a suspicious call.  Don’t converse, don’t wait.
  • Request their full name, position at the institution they claim to be representing and the name of their manager.  Hang up and call the number listed in the phone book for the institution to verify the authenticity.
  • The FCC says, ‘do not respond to any questions’, especially those that can be answered with “Yes“ or “No.”
  • If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up.  Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it.  Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number.  A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.

Remember if in doubt just hang up.

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