The Seven Stars hotel and condominium development in Grace Bay, Providenciales
By Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, TCI -- On Friday, the fifth day of his opening statement on behalf of the prosecution in the criminal trial of former Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) premier Michael Misick and others, Andrew Mitchell QC completed his outline of what he had earlier described as a corrupt relationship with Seven Stars resort developer Varet Jak Civre.
The Seven Stars complex is a hotel and condominium development on a 20-acre site in Grace Bay, Providenciales.
On Thursday, Mitchell had detailed a total of $575,000 in alleged bribes paid in 2004 and 2005 directly to Misick by Civre, with another $175,000 paid directly to co-defendants, former deputy premier Floyd Hall and his wife Lisa, as well as the use of the Progressive National Party (PNP) bank account as a front for payments described as political donations, but which were always intended for the personal use of politicians.
A general election took place in the TCI in February 2007 and, according to Mitchell, Civre made a number of payments around that time, including on February 2, 2007, $250,000 to a PNP account, out of which payments were made to Lisa Hall ($4,000) and Tarsha Hall ($50,000 and $10,000) who, according to other sources, was Michael Misick’s personal assistant and the sister-in-law of Thomas Chalmers ‘Chal’ Misick, who is Misick’s brother and co-defendant.
On February 8, 2007, $150,000 was paid from Civre’s personal account to Paradigm Corporate Management Limited, a TCI-registered company owned by Floyd Hall and, according to the Crown, used by him to channel corrupt payments from, among others, Civre.
This money was used to pay $17,000 to Royal Jewels; $20,000 to Prestigious Properties; and a total of $57,600 in subsequently untraceable payments to Belize Bank.
On March 1, 2007, $125,000 was paid from one of Civre’s companies to the PNP’s account.
“So far as the Crown’s case is concerned, the payments to the party and the movement of funds are inconsistent with donations, and consistent with seeking to retain to have access to favours from ministers who have received funds,” Mitchell said.
There were no further payments made by Civre, either directly or through companies and, at the end of 2007, the Seven Stars complex was sold to a consortium of condominium owners.
“It is the Crown’s case that this was a development influenced by hidden financial transactions between the developer and the politicians, as a result of which the politicians sought, and on occasion were able to obtain advantages,” Mitchell added.
Mitchell then turned to a case of alleged “land flipping” at North West Point, an area of Providenciales located approximately ten miles from Grace Bay. In 2003 the area was mostly undeveloped except for one high-end luxury hotel resort.
David Wex, a developer from Canada, became interested in the prospect of developing the land at North West Point and sometime in 2006 he ended up, through a corporate entity, as the beneficial owner of the land, paying close to the open market value.
However, according to Mitchell, Wex paid the full value of the property to a group of Belongers who had obtained the land with the connivance of the defendant politicians (who received financial reward for their role).
“Every politician defendant is engaged in this transaction, although it would be fair to say that there is no obvious direct role or direct gain to [McAllister Hanchell] in this development,” he noted.
The Crown’s case is that the direct Belonger beneficiaries of this alleged fraud were:
(a) Quinton Hall (brother of Floyd Hall); (b) Jeffrey Hall; (c) Earlson Robinson (brother of Lillian Boyce); and (d) Samuel Been (the ex-husband of Lillian Boyce).
Lillian Boyce also benefitted, Mitchell said.
According to Mitchell, the land at North West Point was allocated to relatives of Cabinet ministers or their relatives who possessed neither the intention nor capacity to build a hotel; a fact concealed from the Governor in Cabinet. The attorney-general will give evidence about the way in which this development was put before cabinet.
“…you will hear that the financial transactions resulted in [Michael Misick] getting $100,000,” he noted.
The parcels of land were initially allocated to the people who we have identified in the form of separate plots. These plots were not in a very good place; they were not on a beach and didn’t present value for any prospective development. The Crown’s case is that they were later manipulated into one high value parcel.
Co-defendant Melbourne Wilson, the local attorney representing another co-defendant, former minister Jeffrey Hall, is alleged to have assisted with this manipulation, including the formation of corporate entities to ensure that Wex obtained the title to the land.
There were altogether 14 applications for five-acre plots submitted to and considered by the then Executive Council (ExCo) on May 3, 2004. Floyd Hall was an applicant albeit his application was crossed through in the paper that went to ExCo.
To applications dated March 25, 2004, were made in the name of Earlson Robinson (a brother of Lillian Boyce) and Samuel Been (the ex-husband of Lillian Boyce).
The Crown’s case is that Lillian Boyce completed and submitted both applications. In interview under caution, she accepted that she completed both forms because she was working on Grand Turk, and that this was her only involvement in the North West Point deal, Mitchell said.
A letter dated May 8, 2004, in the Crown Land Unit files relating to Earlson Robinson was addressed to ‘Mr Earlson McRobinson’ and asked him to sign a declaration at the foot of the letter in order to accept the offer of land. That letter was acknowledged on 21 June.
“We make no comment about the fact that the letter is dated 8 May and refers to a meeting on 12 May,” Mitchell said.
There were two signed copies of this letter contained within the file held by the Crown Land Unit; one is signed June 22, 2004, and the other on June 21, 2004.
Mitchell said that, according to handwriting expert, Anthony Stockton, there is strong support for the view that Lillian Boyce wrote Earlson Robinson’s signature on the document dated June 21.
The full text of the fifth day’s opening statement on behalf of the Crown may be found here: http://tci-sit.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/SIPT22Jan-2016.pdf