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Ministers received $4.2 million from development middleman
Published on February 8, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

On Thursday, Andrew Mitchell QC continued his opening statement on behalf of the prosecution in the criminal trial of former Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) premier Michael Misick and others on various corruption and money laundering charges, by examining a proposed development on West Caicos.

Michael Misick
West Caicos has an area of 11 square miles, and had been uninhabited for over a century. A development agreement was signed some years before Misick became chief minister in 2003.

However, according to Mitchell, after Misick was elected he, together with the other ministers, became increasingly “involved” in the detail of the development and became engaged as we will see, in land transactions in respect of Crown Land through a middleman named Harold Charles, which benefited some of them personally.

Mitchell went on to outline a series of events and transactions between 17 November 2006 and 10 April 2008 (shortly before construction on the site ceased) from which former minister and co-defendant McAllister Hanchell and Misick received $4.2 million between them, directly or indirectly, from the middleman Harold Charles.

“This part of case evidences some of the politician defendants working in tandem with [Thomas Chalmers Misick] to bring in a number of Belongers who were then given the right to have an interest in land simply to receive what we will say is free money… In breach of the Crown Land Policy and the Ministerial Code on good governance…” Mitchell said.

Of the sums paid, one was paid to Lillian Boyce’s brother Philip Robinson, who had applied for a plot, was awarded one, then was given a $200,000 by cheque from Thomas Chalmers Misick, which was endorsed over and credited to an account in the name of Boyce, the money then being applied for her own purposes (albeit that some of that went to Robinson).

Lillian Boyce
“She [former minister and codefendant Lillian Boyce] received a cheque addressed to a relative, which was applied to her own account and used to her own advantage, with only a portion of it going to [her brother Philip Robinson].

“The Crown says that the politicians saw an opportunity to take advantage of a windfall, a discount in the value of the land. To borrow against the land purchase price from the Belize Bank, to advantage Belongers at the expense of the crown and innocent public, and, in respect of [Thomas Chalmers Misick and Lillian Boyce], to be personally advantaged,” Mitchell asserted.

He also noted that, on 20 June 2005, Chalmers Management Ltd was incorporated in the TCI by Thomas Chalmers Misick for the stated purpose of providing company formation and nominee services.

Chalmers Management held an account with the FCIB and between 2005-2010 an astonishing total of $63,083,966.26 was credited and $63,082,122.08 was debited from the account.

“In other words,” Mitchell said, “what went in, went out.”

In what he described as the final part of his opening statement, Mitchell turned to review the impact that the trust and support of the electorate in Michael Misick and his colleagues had on their respective finances.

“Each one of the politicians saw a dramatic increase in disposal income during the Misick years, such as is not explicable by reference to their salaries or known legitimate income. It is also of note how the funds at their disposal fall away dramatically when power is lost,” he remarked.

McAllister Hanchell
According to Mitchell, the case for the Crown is that Misick abused his power and influence using his strength of personality to oversee a government that governed not in the public interest but in his own personal interests and the interests of his friends and relatives. He governed not for the people but to their detriment. He was the beneficiary of illegality in respect of almost every development which will be examined during the trial, whether by reference to proceeds of bribery or a kick back following a discounted sale to an apparent Belonger group, which then resulted in a quick and profitable turn by the sale onto the knowing or unsuspecting developer.

“His spending pattern during, the 2003-2009 period is simply inconsistent, the Crown says, with the income of an honest political leader,” he said.

Upon becoming chief minister in 2003, Misick was able to put all his possessions into “a few black plastic bags” and he owned “two poor quality suits”, Mitchell noted.

In October 2004, Misick, in a statement of affairs submitted to First Caribbean International Bank, a bank to whom he had applied for a loan, he claimed that the value of his assets was $9.5 million (including investments of $3 million) and liabilities of just $200,000.

“Given that his income as chief minister was $100,194.36 (including allowances) his expenditure of $24,987.74 on clothes alone in London, Monte Carlo and California is, to say the least, unusual,” Mitchell pointed out.

The full day’s text of the opening statement on behalf of the Crown may be found here:
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