Water Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands
By Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, TCI -- In the third day of his opening statement on behalf of the prosecution on Wednesday in the criminal trial of former Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) premier Michael Misick and others, Andrew Mitchell QC outlined how the TCI government was deprived of $1.3 million in secret profits that were distributed to, among others, former premier Michael Misick and deputy premier Floyd Hall.
On Tuesday, Mitchell had set out in some detail the sequence of events in relation to a proposed development of Water Cay, a remote island close to Providenciales, known for its unspoilt beaches.
He detailed payments made by a Swiss national, Peter Wehrli, who was interested in the acquisition and development of this Crown land, directly to accounts of Michael Misick personally ($359,573) and/or the Progressive National Party (PNP) ($84,926) with the Belize Bank between 2002 and 2004.
According to Mitchell, a man by the name of Aulden ‘Smokey’ Smith bought land on Water Cay with the assistance of a loan from Wehrli’s company, Secured Holdings, represented by the local law firm Misick and Stanbrook, whose senior partner is Michael Misick’s brother, Ariel Misick.
Smith then immediately sold the land in question to Wehrli’s company for over $2 million but only $700,000 needed to be paid to the TCI government.
Smith therefore profited by $1.3 million, and that money, after fees and commissions, was paid to another local law firm Stanfield Greene, whose senior partner, former speaker of the house Clayton Greene, is also on trial for a number of alleged offences.
Smith’s client account at Stanfield Greene was credited with an opening balance of the net amount of $1,247,211.50 on April 19, 2006, and on the same day $267,850 of this sum was transferred from Smith’s account to another client account in the name of “John Doezer” (“John Doe” with a “zer”).
According to a letter written by Stanfield Greene to the police, telling the investigators about the account, the “John Doezer” client account, had been opened on February 21, 2006, by Clayton Greene for the benefit of Floyd Hall.
“The clear inference is that [Floyd Hall] benefitted from the land sale by way of a payment from the Smith profit. This indicates that [TCI government] minister must have known that the government was losing out and he was going to have a personal advantage,” Mitchell argued.
On April 20, 2006, Smith instructed Clayton Greene to pay $325,000 to yet another local law firm, Chalmers and Co., which was also run by another of Michael Misick’s brothers, Thomas Chalmers (‘Chal’) Misick.
In fact, a cheque for $325,000 was paid directly to the Belize Bank from the Stanfield Greene account, which was credited to an account for the benefit of Michael Misick.
“What do we draw from that?” Mitchell asked. “That there is a direct link between the sale of the property … for over $2 million, which in fact had been bought from [Michael Misick’s] government for $750,000 plus stamp duty, and from which [Michael Misick] benefitted to the tune of $325,000.”
On April 24, 2006, $20,000 was paid in “fees” to Stanfield Greene.
“One of the issues the court will consider is what value of service, beyond acting as a banker for the receipt of these funds, did [Clayton Greene] give to earn $20,000?” Mitchell noted.
On October 26, 2006, the “John Doezer” client account with Stanfield Greene went into “overdraft” and thereafter the ledger was in debit for between $10,000 and $55,000 for the best part of 12 months until the end of August 2007. No interest was charged over this period.
“You will see that here is a client ledger that was in debit, and yet [Clayton Greene] was prepared to allow monies to be debited. You will have to consider, against [Clayton Greene] and his relationship with [Floyd Hall], what he was doing. We would submit is acting as his private banker. It is highly unusual for an attorney to allow a client account to run a debit,” Mitchell pointed out.
Mitchell then turned to the Seven Stars complex, a hotel and condominium development on a 20-acre site in Grace Bay, Providenciales.
“The Crown’s case is that there was a corrupt relationship between Varet Jak Civre with [Michael Misick] and [Floyd Hall] in particular, as well as the use of the PNP bank account as a front for payments described as political donations, which were always intended for the personal use of politicians named in Count 1” he said.
According to the Crown, Floyd Hall used a TCI-registered company he owned, Paradigm Corporate Management Limited, to channel corrupt payments from, among others, Civre.
The full text of the third day’s opening statement on behalf of the Crown may be found here: http://tci-sit.org/andrew-mitchell-qc-opening-statement-20th-january-2016/