Local attorney, Norman Saunders Jr., appeared at the Magistrates Court in Providenciales on Friday charged with the following offences:
1. Assisting another to retain the benefit of criminal conduct, in that between 1st August 2005 and 3rd October 2007 he entered into an arrangement whereby McAllister Hanchell's proceeds of criminal conduct were used to secure funds that were placed at the said McAllister Hanchell's disposal, knowing that he was a person who is or had been engaged in criminal conduct.
2. Entering into or becoming concerned in an arrangement to facilitate the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property, in that between 3rd October 2007 and 31st December 2010 he entered into or became concerned in an arrangement which he knew or suspected facilitated the acquisition, retention, use or control or criminal property by or on behalf of McAllister Hanchell.
3. Acquiring, using or possessing criminal property, in that between 3rd October 2007 and 31st December 2010 he acquired criminal property, namely monies transferred to him for the benefit of McAllister Hanchell.
He was remanded on bail to appear before the Supreme Court for a sufficiency hearing on 8th November."
The charges against Saunders had originally been withdrawn by the prosecution as a result of a legal blunder.
On September 6, at a hearing before chief justice Edwin Goldsbrough in Grand Turk, the Crown asked the court to void the prosecution. Counsel for the prosecution explained that the attorneys acting for Saunders had raised an objection to the decision to prosecute him.
“The prosecution did not accept their argument but had taken this course, because the point was a highly technical one that did not affect the case against any other persons and in order to avoid unnecessary delay and legal costs.” the special investigation and prosecution team (SIPT) said in a subsequent statement.
According to local observers, had the case gone forward, any guilty verdict could have been successfully set aside on the same grounds.
The chief justice described the decision as “pragmatic and expedient."
The SIPT apparently made a fundamental mistake in charging Saunders without having the constitutional power to do so.
Under the new constitution, such authority is vested in the director of public prosecutions (DPP) who had not at the time delegated those powers to members of the SIPT.
It is understood that DPP Joanne Meloche has now formally delegated such powers to special prosecutor Helen Garlick who heads the SIPT.
Following his latest appearance in court, Saunders reissued an earlier statement:
“I am shocked at the SIPT's decision to charge me. I have not committed the offences for which they have accused me, their charges are unfair, and I will continue to strongly contest them.
“I am grateful for the many messages of support that I have already received from friends, clients, and professional colleagues. My hope is that a trial with a jury of my peers can proceed, so that I can put this matter behind me and my family, and so that we can return to a normal life.
“I do not intend to make further statements.”