Justice Paul Harrison
By Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, TCI -- The criminal trial of former Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) premier Michael Misick and others on various corruption and money laundering charges resumed on Tuesday after the presiding judge dismissed an application for a mistrial by Ralph Thorne QC, representing Misick.
Justice Paul Harrison, a former president of the Jamaica Court of Appeal, agreed with prosecutor Andrew Mitchell QC that the application filed by Thorne on the grounds that arecent press statement by Sandals
had the potential of influencing witnesses in the case and would therefore deny his client the right to a fair trial was "novel, and I dare say, unprecedented."
"As the trier of fact in this case, I am obliged, and have a duty, to disabuse my mind from anything said or published outside of the ambit of court proceedings," Harrison said. "I am also compelled not to take into consideration anything said outside the evidence in this case."
He noted that Thorne did not direct the court to "any authority or thinking” with regard to media reports requiring action by the court in respect of witnesses.
Harrison also alerted Thorne that he (Harrison) had not seen or read the Sandals press release and warned the defence attorney that revealing its contents may raise the very problem he complained about. Thorne proceeded with his application nonetheless.
Following the dismissal of the defence application Mitchell resumed with day eleven of his opening statement on behalf of the prosecution.
He concluded his outline of the proposed development of Dellis and Joe Grants Cays with a summary of payments made by developer Cem Kinay totalling $850,000 ostensibly for the Progressive National Party (PNP), none of which appears to have been used for the benefit of the party itself but was instead disguised and diverted for the benefit of Misick and others.
Specifically, $500,000 minus bank charges was paid Chalmers & Co. on 9 January 2007. Although this payment was initially intended to be for the account of the PNP, it was eventually recorded in the books of Kinay’s development company as a payment for planning and legal fees.
“The Crown’s case is that [Thomas Chalmers Misick] did no planning or legal work for Kinay, and this was a means of disguising the payments,” Mitchell said.
On 12 September 2006, Kinay’s company made a further payment of $200,000 to the PNP account at Belize Bank. The purpose of this payment was said to be aiding the completion of the PNP’s headquarters building. However, the entire amount was in fact used to pay Carretti Turner Associates in Miami (the interior designer of Michael Misick’s new home).
On 10 October 2008 Kinay paid $150,000 to the PNP account. The cheque was described as being for ‘Grand Turk Hurricane Relief’.
“The money didn’t reach any relief fund,” Mitchell pointed out.
Instead, $10,000 was paid to Misick & Stanbrook.
“Not, on the face of it, a payment for hurricane relief,” Mitchell observed.
Other payments included $10,000 to Jeffrey Hall and $10,065 to Mildred Rivas, a friend and the mother of two of Michael Misick’s children.
Mitchell also noted that, after the commencement of the Commission of Inquiry was announced, some of the server data held by Kinay was repopulated.
“The Crown’s case will be that this was to hide what was originally there,” he said.
“As to the money received into the PNP and [Thomas Chalmers Misick]-related accounts: if this was genuinely intended for PNP, then we say this is a conspiracy to defraud the PNP. If on the other hand the payments going in to disguise them so they could be used for the benefit of the named defendants, that is money laundering. If, as we suggest, the payments were indeed bribes being made to curry favour with Michael Misick and other politicians, receipt of those funds into the [Thomas Chalmers Misick] accounts is the receipt of the proceeds of crime, and [Thomas Chalmers Misick]’s movement of them creates, we submit, clear and cogent evidence of a money launderer at work,” Mitchell asserted.
The full day’s text of the opening statement on behalf of the Crown may be found here: http://tci-sit.org/category/opening-notes/