Interview about Joe Grant in Turks and Caicos Islands

  • Dr Kinay, for this interview is the subject Joe Grant Cay in Turks and Caicos Islands. This Cay is one of the less known cays, and its story came up to the attention of the TCIlanders because of bribe allegations in Turks and Caicos. Dr Kinay, What is Joe Grant Cay?

 

Joe Grant’s Cay is a beautiful but remote, uninhabited 712 acres cay located in a remote section of the archipelago between Middle Caicos and Easy Caicos. It is accessible only by sea. The last time I took a boat to visit it, it took me 2 hours from Providenciales to get there. This Cay has no dock, no road, no electricity, no water neither any form of other infrastructure. It is inhabited like East Caicos. The cay is composed mainly of consolidated rock with the ocean frontages consisting of either sand or “iron shore”.   The elevation is low and the shallow water depths at some parts of the island for do not allow visitors to access other areas. These difficulties do not discourage us, as at the end, when properly developed, this Cay is a beauty.

 

We have bought 200 Acres of this island on June 20, 2008 from the Crown through a transfer of title executed by the former Governor., Hon Richard Tauwaree and on November 7, 2008, the former Governor, Hon. Whetherwell has executed a Development Agreement with us for the development of the whole island.

 

  • What is the role of you in this project?

 

When I first came to Turks and Caicos Islands in 2005, I had already my development company O Property Collection in Austria. This company is where I, and my partner Oguz Serim offer our development advice to projects. O Property Collection has, from the first days of this project, ,is acting as “developer” bringing its expertise, in construction, sales, marketing. The center of any development is people. Community is very important. My company’s vision is to create design driven projects. God has already placed a beautiful design for Dellis and Joe Grant, it is now up to us, with respect, to treat these beauties with the best architecture and standards there is.

 

  • What do you want to develop on this island?

 

We want to develop the island with an environmentally friendly Hotel and then Villas in the natural surroundings. We have retained top environmental engineers from Florida, and we already started the process of Environment Impact Assessment. We designed our project with a high class architect from italy, and have signed a brand and management Indent with a very famous brand. The most important consideration though is that this will be a low density and green development.

 

  • When you first heard of Joe Grant Cay? How did you get involved?

 

I first got interested in Joe Grant Cay In December 2006 when I was informed that negotiations with some developers for a proposed project on Joe Grant’s Cay had run into difficulties and I was asked whether I could be interested to take this development further. The Government already had a price for sale on the Cay, US$5 million according to a formal offer that the former Government had placed before the previous developers in November 2006. My initial views for the Cay was that it was a remote location, no infrastructure and it involved Crown Land, and that meant the need of a Belonger Partner. I was not familiar with this process as my first investment Dellis Cay, is a private transaction and does not involve any Crown Land.

 

  • Did you know any of the previous developers?

I understand form the discussions in the past months that there were a number of developers who wanted to take this Cay prior to my involvement in early 2007. I do not know and have never done any business with the gentleman named at the discussions at the Commission of Inquire,. whether in relation to Joe Grant’s Cay or otherwise.

 

  • Who is you local/belonger partner?

 

I was already heavily engaged in our Dellis Cay project, and having regard to the Crown land policy (of which I was then aware), I thought it sensible to have a belonger partner in the development. In that respect, a company called Oceanic Development Ltd owned by Don Gardiner became my partner. I respected Don very much whom I already knew socially. As you may recall he was the President of the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourism Board. I understood that Don was involved in the development prospects of Joe Grant Cay with the previous developers so he was very familiar with it. We have executed a Joint Venture Agreement with Don’s company in January 2007, and became partners in a company called Caicos Platinum Ltd, a company that was the recipient of the first formal offer of US$5 million from the Government back in November 2006.

 

 

  • When did you buy Joe Grant Cay.

 

See, that has never happened. We did not buy Joe Grant Cay. We bought the freehold of the 200 acres of Joe Grant Cay, and the rest (512 acres) is provided to us by a Conditional Purchase Lease through a development Agreement. I am not sure whether you followed it, but this island was first offered at US$5 million to Caicos Platinum Ltd, when that company was owned by previous developers. Then, 200 Acres of it (approximately 30%) was offered to us at $2 million in early June 2008, by the decision of Cabinet, led by His Excellency the Governor Richard Tauwaree. At the specific instance of the Government (and with some reluctance on our part given the risk to which we were thus being exposed in advance of the conclusion of a development agreement), we were asked to close the purchase of the 200 acres hotel parcel on an urgent basis, apparently because of very low cash flow issues at Government level. Having agreed to do so, the Governor again changed its mind, obtained a new valuation by a third party QS and informed us on June 19th, 2008 that the price of the hotel parcel had been increased to $3.2 million. We paid that price for 200 Acres and bought a portion of Joe Grant Cay on June 20th, 2008 on de day of Groundbreaking Ceromonie of Dellis Cay.Governor Tauwaree came in the afternoon to this Ceromonie,was very happy,that Joe Grant deal was finally closed after 1,5 years of negotiations.He congratulated me on the day,the funds of the transaction was in the account of government.

 

 

  • What about the Development Agreement?

 

You know, it took us almost 2 years from the first discussions, but 5 months after our acquisition of the 200 Acre parcel, in November 2008 to get a Development Agreement. I am not sure whether you re know but The Governor executes all major agreements on behalf of the Government. So, our that time new Governor HE Gordon Wetherell, Attorney General Hon.Rhondalee Braithwaite and our CEO, Director, Michel Neutelings have met for the execution of the Development Agreement.

 

  • Dr, Is there anything special in the Agreement?

 

All development agreements in Turks and Caicos Islands, usually have more or less the same provisions. However, we have an additional obligation on our part to pay 15% on the gross amount on the sale of villa lots in the development to the Crown. I am not privy to all development agreements in TCI but I am not personally aware of any other development agreement which contains an obligation of that nature. From the standpoint of the public, it is clear that if my partners and I make a major investment on Joe Grant’s Cay such that the price which a buyer might pay for a villa lot is greatly enhanced, the Government receives a corresponding benefit without any of the business risks undertaken by the developer. Joe Grant Cay was going to be a new source of income for the TCI Government and TCI islanders. This remote and unhabited island was going to be the home for a new hospitality project providing new jobs and opportunities for everyone. I would imagine that most of the ex middle caicos residents would returned to their home from their present endeavors in Providenciales. In summary, this project had a very important social aspect. I have on many occasions discussed these aspects with both Honorable Governors Tauwahare and Whetherel.

 

  • There was a discussions about the valuation? What you have to say on it?

Look, I am a developer, a businessmen. I got interested in this deal as the 712 Acres was available at US$5 million to a number of developers who apparently did not perform. I wanted to buy at this price. At the end, I have negotiated more than 18 months to get 30% of this cay at US$3.2 million. I took a significant risk by paying that price and closing that purchase without having a signed development agreement with TCIG, with no guarantee that we could carry out our development plan or acquire the rest of the Cay.

 

Now coming to the valuations, I understand from the Inquiry that under the leadership of the HE Governor Tauwaree himself, the Cabinet has sought a number of conflicting valuations both from their own valuation department and from a private commercial appraiser on June 2008. They have as the Cabinet, together with HE the Governor, have decided to take the valuation of the commercial appraiser as it reflected the market value.

 

Now, the question is why did they not picked the high value but the low value?

 

My answer is that the valuation of the land is obviously a matter for the Crown and for experts in that field. That is why I I have hired some of the leading experts in this field to assist me. What they say is simple: the Valuation officer has attempted to value this property by direct comparison to couple at Ambergris Cay, and sale listings from marketing brochures (and not actual transactions) at North Caicos Marina and Middle Caicos. I am told that those comparables do not come near being appropriate for the purposes of valuing Joe Grant Cay.

 

At Ambergris Cay, for example, lot sizes of between 0.32 – 1.85 acres each are compared to our project of 700 acres.   In addition, Ambergris Cay forms part of an established luxury brand, and considerable expenditure has been undertaken on the extensive infrastructure. I do not know if you know but Ambergis Cay has all its utilities underground, electricity and water, It is the only island in this country which has an underground sewer system. Everything is self-generated on the island, water making, the treatment of the sewer system. It has even an uncompleted marina that is not completed but obviously a port facility) including the inclusion of the biggest private runway (6,000 feet) in the Caribbean. Overall Ambergis Cay it is a self-sufficient island that has all of the amenities and can function, unlike North and Middle Caicos which has to have power on the sea cable from Providenciales. North Caicos Yacht Club is also a developed property, so no parallels to undeveloped land neither. We also understand that the valuer has used “sales brochure prices” in 2008. The Middle Caicos comparative is based on a sales listing as well, which was withdrawn from the market after 22 months listing period and not sold.

 

Now, that is what experts say. These will all come out soon. Now if you ask me what I personally think. To me, the real valuation is what I paid. I paid US$18 million to Dellis Cay, a 500 acres island, of which 200 Acre is private land. Dellis Cay is only 20 minutes from Leeward Highway, it had PPC Electricity cable in it, for plenty of electricity, and it is next to world renowned Parrot Cay. I think that we have paid for the 200 Acres at Joe Grant Cay reflects the fair market price at its present state and that is “undeveloped” land at a remote location for commercial use. That is what it is.

 

Later on, we have asked both local and international professional valuation firms to conduct a full analysis and report an official valuation of this island. All these reports have confirmed the value that we have paid to Joe Grant Cay’s 200 acres and the lease agreements that we have entered with the TCI Government. In any case, after the World Economical Crisis starting in November 2008 and onwards land values have significantly eroded all around the world and especially the Caribbean.

 

  • But Dr Kinay what is the benefit of this Project to the TCIslanders? What do they get?

 

Look, The government did not simply sell a piece of land, they entered into a development agreement for the development of that land. If I can not develop it on time, and spend the money that the Government wants me to spend on it, than they will get back. It is in the Agreement. It is ours as long as we spend money on it. You know how much? My Development Agreement says I need to spend US$120 million on this cay in a fixed period of time. We estimated that the construction will take 2 years and create at least 150 new local jobs. Once the island is fully operational it will require at least 70 locals to manage it. As I have already mentioned, in addition to the purchase price of the land of the hotel site, we will pay 15% of our Villa sales on the 300 Acre Villa Lots and this goes straight to the Government’s budget. Not to mention, the usual development agreement obligations such as the Annual Scholarship payments, duties, work permit fees, the rents paid under the leases, stamp duty benefits accruing to TCIG arising out of sales in the development and the boost to the tourism economy of TCI.

 

  • Dr Kinay, you lost a court case concerning Joe Grant Cay? What will happen now?

 

I received the Turks and Caicos Islands Court’s judgment concerning Joe Grant Cay. I also received TCIG’s Press Release. The judgement is grossly unfair and Joe Grant Cay development companies are currently appealing it. I could not afford lawyers as Turks and Caicos Islands Courts have frozen all my worldwide assets not allowing me to spend any funds towards my right to defend myself and my companies. Looking at the Judgment, in essence, His Hon. Justice G W Martin has concluded in connection with the political donation of $500,000 made by Dellis Cay’s parent company Turks Development LP (the Court states the donation was from ‘Dr Kinay’) to Michael Misick on 9 January 2007, the Judge found (paragraph 33) “there to be a very strong probability that the money was paid as a bribe in order to ensure that the Defendant companies obtained the benefit of the proposed development” disregarding the facts that the Defendant companies did not even exist at that time, and that the donation was made by Turks Development LP, a company developing Dellis Cay, not related in any way to Joe Grant Cay . His Hon Judge further observed (paragraph 41): “I emphasise that this judgment should not be treated as a conclusive finding that any individual has acted corruptly.  Nobody should be declared corrupt if he has not had the opportunity to defend himself at trial, and that has not happened in this case.’ These statements did not make the Judgment just and fair, the basic principle of law.

 

On the matter of Joe Grant Cay’s valuation, His Hon Justice completely ignored the Government’s valuation report obtained from BCQS, an independent commercial appraiser who valued 200 acres of Joe Grant Cay, at USD 3.2 million for commercial use, exactly the amount of money asked by the Government in June 2008, which the development companies have paid in full. His Hon Judge ruled (Para 36, The Judgement) ‘When instructing BCQS to give an alternative valuation, McAllister Hanchell did not tell them of the proposed development, so that their valuation made no allowance for the intended use of the land.’. The Learned Chief Justice has failed to recognize that BCQS valuation report specifically stated on Page 7 Item 3.5 ‘It is assumed that planning permission is available for the subdivision of the land for residential plots or for a commercial use.’ By ignoring BCQS’s clear statement specifying that Joe Grant Cay valuation report is prepared for “commercial use”, The Hon. Chief Justice presented an unbalanced approach for the benefit of the Plaintiff. The Court’s omission of BCQS’s written representations in their valuation report is not something that I can live with and we will be pursuing the reasons for this material error.

 

First, the Commission of Inquiry’s publication of unredacted Final Report despite the TCI Supreme Court’s Order not to publish the unredacted Final Report cost Dellis Cay its business and caused the funders to pull their finances, now Joe Grant Cay Development companies are striped of their rightfully obtained assets.

 

It is clear to me that there is a set political agenda which is geared to restructure the political landscape at the Turks and Caicos Islands and we are chosen as the main victims. I repeat categorically that I reject all accusations, and state that we are innocent

 

For those who doubt that the Development of Joe Grant Cay is not innocent, I have only one question: Had the alleged privileges, favors or better conditions been present in the acquisition of 200 acres of this island, or in the Development Agreement, why both Hon. Governor Tauwhare, and the present Hon. Governor Whetherell would have executed these on behalf of the Crown? Both Hon Governors are experienced public officials, with history of making land transactions, and executing Development Agreements on behalf of the Crown. Why did they approve these transactions if the preferential treatment was all over the documents that they have signed?

 

All these contracts, and 200 acres land sale were approved by the Attorney General, TCI Invest, Ministers, the Premier, and executed by 2 Hon. Governors. The Government and both Hon. Governors had 2 years to conduct due diligence. Do you really believe that they were all ‘deceived’? and did not know what they were selling? That is the real question the Turks and Caicos Public must ask.

 

I have faith in the law, and I will look for justice until I find it.

 

  • What are your long term goals?

 

I did not come to Turks and Caicos Islands, to do few projects and go back to anywhere. I will stay and work here for many years. When Dellis Cay and Joe Grant Cay will one time open, my children, together with the young generation of Turks and Caicos Islands, will be proud of having these developments, in remote locations and will have fun.TCI er will be proud about it too.

 

STATEMENT OF DR CEM KINAY WITH RESPECT TO THE JOE GRANT SALE.THE TRUTH.

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Statement of Dr Cem Kinay with respect to the Joe Grant Cay’s Sale

Istanbul, Turkey 18 December 2013

I understand from Turks and Caicos Islands media sources that a 200 acre parcel of Joe Grant Cay has been sold for $4.04m in October 2013 in a transaction that was never made public.

I was sure that one day, the truth about Joe Grant Cay’s true value will come to the light, Today, is my day. For the past 6 years, I have been living stripped of my basic human rights and assets just because the TCI Courts have concluded in connection with a political donation made to Michael Misick on 9 January 2007 “there to be a very strong probability that the money was paid as a bribe in order to ensure that the Defendant companies obtained the benefit of the proposed (Joe Grant Cay) development” disregarding the fact that there was in reality no benefit at all, as we have paid the true and accurate value of this land which was USD 3.2 million for the same 200 acres parcel back in 2008.

More specifically, on the matter of Joe Grant Cay’s valuation, His Hon Justice completely ignored the Government’s valuation report obtained from BCQS, an independent commercial appraiser who valued 200 acres parcel of Joe Grant Cay, at USD 3.2 million for commercial use, exactly the amount of money asked by the Government in June 2008, which my development companies have paid in full.

What is more astonishing was the fact that His Hon Judge ruled (Para 36, The Judgement) ‘When instructing BCQS to give an alternative valuation, McAllister Hanchell did not tell them of the proposed development, so that their valuation made no allowance for the intended use of the land.’. The Learned Chief Justice has failed to recognize that BCQS valuation report specifically stated on Page 7 Item 3.5 ‘It is assumed that planning permission is available for the subdivision of the land for residential plots or for a commercial use.’ By omitting BCQS’s clear statement specifying “commercial use” in its report, The Hon. Chief Justice violated our right to a fair trial, and unfairly favored the Turks and Caicos Islands Government by omitting what the true valuation report states. Instead, the Hon. Chief Justice relied on a series of valuation reports prepared by the Turks and Caicos Island’s own employee Mr. Hoza, which are at best confused. Mr. Hoza’s valuation reports valued the 200 acre parcel at a whopping 45 million for commercial use!

For those who doubt that the Development of Joe Grant Cay is not innocent, I have only one question: We have paid 3.2 million in 2008 for this 200 acre land, and today, 6 years later, the same land has been sold for 4.04 million in an open market transaction ! I ask you what happened to the alleged tens of millions of dollars that the Government and some of our opponents claimed that this land was supposed to be worth?

I have the answer: The alleged valuation of this island was a big lie ! Joe Grant Cay’s 200 acre was never valued more than what we paid for. That was the exact reason why many internationally repute valuation companies as well as all the local valuation companies have valued it at the exact value that we paid for it. That is why both Hon. Governor Tauwhare, and later on Hon. Governor Whetherell have approved and executed the sale of this 200 Acre land to us for USD 3.2 million, and that was why the sale was approved by the Attorney General, TCI Invest, Ministers, and the Premier.

In fact, there was no “favor” from anyone for Joe Grant Cay. In fact, we have paid the true value of this land, and the shameless dark forces took away from us alleging the “undervalue” sale. The evidence is before you, the same land is now sold for USD 4.04 million after 6 years.

In the past five years, I have been victimized by politics. My assets were frozen and hundreds of people lost their jobs. I could have developed Joe Grant Cay and create much needed jobs, and further tourism income for Turks and Caicos Islands. I was denied my fundamental right to a fair trial in TCI, a red notice application has been filed with the Interpol for my arrest. I am calling upon the TCI Government and the Attorney General to end these groundless accusations against me, return my assets, and clear my name as I have done nothing wrong.

God Bless

Joe Grant Cay Land Sells For $4m

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Joe Grant Cay Land Sells For $4m

Joe Grant Cay is home to 18th century ruins, a protected harbour and some of the country’s finest vistas
A LARGE plot of Crown land on the remote island of Joe Grant Cay was sold for $4.04m in October in a transaction that was never made public, the Weekly News can reveal.

This week Sotheby’s, the real estate company dealing with the sale, told the newspaper that a commercial developer purchased the 200 acre plot – once valued at $50 million – months ago.

TCI mortgage providers Temple Financial Group pushed through the sale of the land in order to recoup millions of dollars in outstanding Government debts.

The debt was originally created five years ago when the company awarded a $2.4 million mortgage to a prominent developer to purchase the sizable plot on the cay.

But he was later accused of corruption and following a lengthy civil recovery case the Government took back possession of the land – along with responsibility for the mortgage and the growing interest.

Temple gave the Government an opportunity to sell the land themselves to repay the debt and it was advertised on the Sotheby’s website for sale at $6.9 million.

But after a year and a half without a bite the company obtained ‘power of sale’ and finally offloaded the land for $2.8 million below its advertised price.

Power of sale gives the creditor the authority, upon default in the payment of a debt, to advertise and sell the property at public auction, without resorting to a court for authorisation.

Following a request for information, Sotheby’s broker Joe Zahm sent the Weekly News an email that explained: “Lot 25 ONLY sold for $4,040,000 in October. The rest of the island remains in TCIG control.”

The cash will pay off the Government’s debt with Temple Financial Group and any remaining will be put into the Government’s coffers.

However it is currently uncertain how much interest the mortgage accrued and if there is likely to be any money left over from the payment.

Minister of Finance Washington Misick told the Weekly News on Thursday (December 12) that he had not been briefed on the sale.

He explained that just months ago Temple Mortgage would have obtained “power of sale”.

But Misick added that he was unaware of any further details including whether the $4.04 million was more or less than the amount owed to Temple.

Meanwhile when asked why the transaction was not made public Premier Rufus Ewing on Thursday told the newspaper that the sale had “nothing to do with” the Government.

“A great portion of Joe Grant Cay is still owned by Government but the part sold is not a part of the Crown land there,” he said.

The development of remote Joe Grant Cay, located just east of Middle Caicos, was announced in mid-2008, shortly before the worldwide recession tightened its grip on the Islands.

Home to 18th century ruins, a protected harbour and some of the country’s finest vistas, the 710-acre cay was tipped to provide abundant job opportunities for local residents.

However Turkish-born developer Cem Kinay, who also headed the massive development at Dellis Cay, attracted a wealth of scrutiny during the 2008 Commission of Inquiry.

It was claimed that he purchased Joe Grant Cay for $7.7 million after it was valued at $178 million in June 2008.

This followed the payment of a $500,000 political donation to the PNP just a year earlier.

On June 24, 2010, the development agreement between the Kinay’s Star Platinum firms and the Government was terminated.

And that July civil recovery lawyers fought to have land on the tiny cay returned to the Crown along with damages and costs.

After initially filing a full defence, the Star Platinum companies then defaulted on court orders.

They were asked to provide further and better particulars of their defence, but did not do so in time, and the defence was struck out.

As a result, the Government opted for trial by evidence or admissions which took place in June 2011 at Providenciales Supreme Court.

Following lengthy civil recovery proceedings the recently resigned Attorney General Huw Shepheard released his judgement in TCI’s first major civil recovery case.

He said that there was “no satisfactory explanation” for a $500,000 political donation made by Dr Kinay to former Premier Michael Misick on January 9, 2007.

The judge added that there was “a very strong probability that the money was paid as a bribe in order to ensure that the defendant companies obtained the benefit of the proposed development”.

However, because the defendant did not show up to court to offer his evidence, Shepheard stressed that “nobody should be declared corrupt”.

Dr Kinay – bestowed with Belonger status by Misick’s former Government – has always denied allegations of corruption.

He also previously vowed to recoup all losses incurred by his firms as a result of the civil recovery team’s work.

The court ordered the return of the whole of Joe Grant Cay previously bought for $7.7 million to the TCI Government.

However one 200 acre parcel of land, which Kinay bought for just $3.2 million, was subject to a charge in favour of Temple Financial Group.

Star Platinum companies had borrowed $2.4 million from the company’s operating division Temple Mortgage and granted it a charge over the land as security.

TCIG “reluctantly concluded” that it had no choice but to sell the parcel of land in order to pay off what was owed.

In May 2012 Sothebys, instructed to act for the Government, placed parcel 30101/25 on the market for sale.

Earlier this year Temple forced through the sale of the land in order to repay the Government’s outstanding debts.

David Knight, chief executive officer of Temple Financial Group, was unavailable for comment .
Published in TCI Weekly News

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JOE GRANT SCANDAL IN TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

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The below article ,published in June 2012 in SUN

By Royal S. Robinson, MBE
The Interim Administration continues to try to have its cake and eat it as well as to operate in a very non-transparent way. When you take into consideration the premise on which they took over the country from the duly elected local representatives, the actions so far have not been to show you how best to get the job done, but how best to carry on the process by which cronyism is the hallmark of the day and picking winners of your own choosing is the best was in which to do business.
The British Government, FOC, DFID, SIPT and the Civil Recovery team declared that the original sale of land by the TCI government to Platinum was a corrupt transaction and as such should be recovered and redound to the benefit of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Steps were taken through the Court system to have the land returned to the Crown and the court agreed that the land should be returned. No sooner than this exercise was completed (Platinum seem not to take an interest in appealing the court’s decision), there seems to be a concerted effort being made to now ensure that the Turks and Caicos Islands’ people do not benefit effective from the return of that land.
The first part of the deception and deceit started with the decision to sell the land to satisfy a mortgage that had been placed on the property by Temple as a result of Platinum borrowing some $2M and using the property as collateral. My understanding of the legal system is that if a leaf of the fig tree is tainted, then the whole tree is tainted. As it relates to this particular transaction, if it was corrupt for Platinum to obtain the land in the first instance, then any subsequent transaction had to be corrupt also.
So why was there a rush on behalf of the Interim Administration to satisfy Temple Mortgage? There can be one inference to be drawn and that is that someone in the Administration or very close to the Administration had something to be gained by the sale of the land by the government to satisfy the debt to Temple!
According to all previous pronouncements by the Interim Administration, all of the land that had been reacquired as a result of some fraudulent activity would be kept in the land bank for future generations to benefit from. So what is the real rush to dispose of this land at this time? Something smells fishy here.
Now in the proper scheme of things, if the Interim Administration had a real reason to dispose of the land for the benefit of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the first thing it should have done was to specifically say so. Following on from that, it should have issued a Request for Proposals. If as they like to claim they are operating in an open and transparent manner, and they want to get the best value for money, that is what would have happen. But they have decided to pick winners from “their side of the ledger”. What is that called? Is it Insider trading? Or is it nepotism? I thought those were the common faults and flaws identified by Sir Robin Auld as being part of the systemic weakness and corruption in the previous political administration that had to be rooted out. But like Courtney Missick likes to say, corruption has only changed its colour, from black to white!
Now let us look at the local firm that got to market and sell the 200 acres of land on Joe Grant Cay. It is Sotheby’s and its local affiliate is Connolly-Zahm! Is it just coincidental that one of the principals of Connolly-Zahm if Mrs. Josephine Connolly, the wife of Advisory Council member Joseph (Joe) Connolly? As Ernie Clarke likes to say “I have the documents”. I will definitely like to see the documents showing that there is no nexus at all!
The old Finance and Audit Ordinance and Financial Instructions, followed by the now brand new Public Finance Management Ordinance, all speak to a transparent process with respect to the procurement of services by government.
As I have indicated before, there should have been a tendering process set up and the firm with the best proposal selected to carry out the work. The worst case scenario would have been to short-list say six of the local real estate firm that have international connections and ask them to submit proposals, I could live with that. I would have thought that that would have given me some piece of mind that I would have been getting value for money.
What I still cannot fathom is how the governor fixed his mouth to call the initial land transaction of Joe Grant cay corrupt and it had to be returned to the people, but no sooner was that done, he is out there secretly trying to sell that asset. Something untoward must be afoot here. I just cannot for the life of me understand the amount of double standard that is being used by this Interim Administration, save to say that a concerted effort is being made dispose of everything of value that belong to us, in a manner that they feel and say that it is in our best interest so to do.
I have never seen so many thing done in my best interest, that am totally opposed to as is happening with these bumbling idiots at the helm. As time progresses, everyone is seeing that the Emperor has on no clothes and is operating in a clueless manner.
How the Interim Administration hopes to be able to get away with such blatant disregards for the rules that they say they came here specifically to enforce and demonstrate the ethics of doing things in the proper manner?
However, what they have and are demonstrating to us is that what we were doing was child’s play and they are certainly showing us how bad business should operate. That does not give us faith and comfort in these operators. That is why on the streets there is now total skepticism as to the real reason the intervention took place.
We must by now be in a position to determine for ourselves that what is currently being done to us is neither right nor fair! The reset button has now been pushed by the setting of the date for elections. We should all go out and get registered so that we can send a clear and unambiguous message to the Interim Administration that business as usual will not be the order of the day. Joe Grant Cay has not been sold as yet and it is not too late to restart the process on a proper footing.
There cannot be a rush as there is a surplus budget proposed, so the money from the sale is not critical to our financial position except that the Interim Administration is hell bent of getting from under the loan guarantee as quickly as possible and to hell with whatever adverse consequence to the Turks and Caicos Islands people!

published in Sun TCI

British Developer Pleads Guilty in Turks and Caicos Islands Corruption Case

British developer pleads guilty in Turks and Caicos corruption case
Published on June 3, 2013

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — British developer Richard Padgett pleaded guilty in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) on Friday to charges of bribery and conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice by agreeing to present false or forged documents to a Commission of Inquiry.

At a plea and directions hearing on April 15, Mr Justice Harrison agreed that Padgett should be allowed to enter his pleas at the first reasonable opportunity. His case was adjourned to May 31, this being the next most convenient date for the judge to return to the TCI.

Padgett is currently suffering from ill health and in the opinion of his doctor is not fit to travel to the TCI, it was therefore agreed by the court that his pleas be entered from England, by a video link to the Supreme Court.

Padgett and the Crown were represented in both jurisdictions by counsel.

After his pleas of guilty were entered, the case was adjourned to September16 for mention as to the appropriate date of sentence.

Padgett, who has been on bail throughout the proceedings, remains on bail.

The TCI government also announced on Friday that it has settled all civil claims and proceedings against Padgett and his companies. That includes civil claims arising from the Third Turtle Development referred to in the report of the Commission of Inquiry, and a separate civil claim arising in relation to Crown land on East Caicos acquired by a company controlled by Padgett.

Under the settlement, Padgett has transferred to the government land valued at approximately US$7 million, and has made a cash contribution of $75,000 to the costs of investigating the claims.

This takes total land recoveries made by the civil recovery team to 3,058 acres, in addition to $19.6 million in cash paid or to be paid to the government.

Attorney General Huw Shepheard commented: “We are pleased that these disputes have now been settled with the transfer to TCIG of a substantial amount of further land of significant value. This settlement brings to a successful conclusion the civil claims brought in relation to the major developments referred to in the report of the Commission of Inquiry. As reported, other claims and investigations continue to be progressed by the Edwards Wildman civil recovery team.”

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SPECIAL PROSECUTOR HELEN GARLICK ISSUES UPDATE ON CORRUPTION CASE IN TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

HELEN GARLICK ISSUES UPDATE ON SIPT CASES

“The Plea and Directions Hearing in this case has been adjourned to September 16th. I have made it clear that I will not comment on the evidence in this case or on any other issue that is for the court of trial to decide, except that where it is right to do so, I will correct mis statements made in public by other people and will also provide as much information as I can about the proceedings.

“There are currently 10 defendants awaiting trial before the Supreme Court. In May 2012 all of them were sent for trial on all charges by Justice Ramsey Hale. Before a trial date can be fixed there are several preliminary matters that need to be decided by the trial Judge in Plea and Directions Hearings. The prosecution have been ready to conduct a Hearing since July 2012 and all the necessary evidence and written submissions have been served on the accused.

“The reason for the continued delay is that the majority of the accused have applied for and been granted legal aid but have rejected the rates fixed by the Registrar and challenged that decision by applying for Judicial Review. The SIPT had no involvement in the Legal Aid decision, this was a matter between the accused and the Registrar. However, we have been joined to the Judicial Review proceedings as an interested party. The application for judicial review was rejected after a hearing before on 8th November 2012. An appeal was also rejected unanimously by the Court of Appeal on 24th January 2013.

“The accused concerned are now applying for leave to appeal to the Privy Council. That application has not yet been made. If they are refused permission to appeal by the Court of Appeal, they have the right to renew their application directly to the Privy Council and it could therefore be some months before this matter is resolved finally.

“The accused have the right to exhaust all legal avenues of appeal but there should be no misunderstanding that however long it may take, the law must take its course and there will be a trial.

“As to the position of Michael Misick, his claim for political asylum is being dealt with in accordance with Brazilian law and the SIPT and the AG are not parties to that process. The request for his extradition could not be dealt with until the asylum claim was decided. The claim had been refused at first instance but he had lodged an appeal to the Minister for Justice. On Monday 15th April the Minister refused his appeal. I am advised that the extradition process can therefore begin. However there should also be no misunderstanding first that, however long it may take, if Michael Misick is returned to the TCI, he will stand trial and second that in the meantime the trial of his co accused will continue.”

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Settlement with Former Minister and Pleading Guilty in Turks and Caicos Corruption Case

20130416-114814.jpg20130416-114825.jpgimage“UPDATE ON SIPT CASES
Published Sun TCI on 15th April 2013

The Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT) on Monday April 15th dropped all criminal charges against Samuel “Sammy” Been after he reached an agreement with them and the Attorney General’s Chambers to give up a portion of his commercial building, the Sammy Been Plaza, on Airport Road, Providenciales. The value of the settlement is approximately $850,000.
Developer Richard Padgett has agreed to plead guilty to various charges including bribery on May 31st, 2013. Because he is medically unfit to travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands, Padgett will make his plea by way of video link from the Central London Court at 10 a.m. on that date.

SIPT Prosecutor Andrew Mitchell, QC, said if Padgett is sentenced to jail, provision will be made the have him serve his prison term in England and Wales.

The SIPT cases which were heard before Mr. Justice Paul Harrison, have been adjourned until September 16th, 2013.”

Attorney General in Turks and Caicos settles with Former Minister in Corruption Case

Attorney general settles with Samuel Been, prosecution discontinued
Published on April 16, 2013

Attorney General Huw Shepheard said on Monday that he has agreed to settle civil recovery proceedings brought against Samuel Been, one of the defendants facing criminal charges as part of the inquiries pursued by the special investigation and prosecution team (SIPT).

Samuel Been
“At the same time criminal proceedings against him for an offence of conspiracy to defraud and acquiring the proceeds of criminal conduct, contrary to s29 Proceeds of Crime Ordinance 1998 will be discontinued,” Shepheard said in a statement.

The settlement will result in the transfer to the TCI government of property owned by Been at Sammy Been Plaza, Providenciales, valued at $825,000, he added.

Been is the former husband of Lillian Boyce, a former minister in the previous Progressive National Party (PNP) government, who has also been charged with criminal offences in relation to government corruption.

It had recently been rumoured locally that Been would escape prosecution by agreeing to give evidence against his co-defendants.

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PNP UNITED ON FORMER PREMIER’S MICHAEL MISICK TALKING POINTS

PNP united on former premier’s talking points
Published on March 28, 2013 ,TCI News Now.

The Progressive National Party (PNP) is apparently now unified behind specific “talking points” that are being spoken to by the party and its supporters and are seemingly being orchestrated by its former leader Michael Misick.

The principal point being made was the primary platform of the PNP during their 2012 general election campaign and that is the issue of independence and preparing the TCI to separate itself from Britain.

This was addressed in each and every letter received from Misick and was spoken to by Premier Rufus Ewing on his return from last month’s Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government meeting in Haiti. In Ewing’s view, all the Caribbean nations, including those who are currently one of the 14 British overseas territories, must not only achieve independence but must also form republics and not be associated with the Commonwealth of Nations.

The second talking point spoken to by Misick and Ewing is the forthcoming prosecutions of former PNP cabinet ministers and others. Both Misick and Ewing have said that the prosecutions are a farce. Misick said this is because he claims that laws were changed and he personally cannot receive a fair trial and will fight returning home until that is resolved, while at the same time proclaiming his willingness to return to the TCI by private plane instead of waiting for his extradition from Brazil to be completed.

Ewing has not explained why he feels the imminent trials are a “farce”, as he called them in a recent letter to Britain’s Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds.

The third talking point that is being spoken to widely by PNP members and supporters is their view of the overstepping of authority by Britain. This is being described by Ewing as an abuse of power and corruption on the part of William Hague, Britain’s Foreign Secretary. The tone of this talking point echoes similar comments made by Misick in each and every letter he has written.

One of the principal points aired by Ewing was the looming imposition of value added tax (VAT). On this issue, both political parties and the business community were united in asking for VAT to be abandoned.

Both Hague and Simmonds responded to Ewing’s speech to CARICOM heads by accusing him of failing to address the reasons why VAT and other measures were necessary.

In particular, Ewing failed to explain that the TCI is bankrupt and became bankrupt due to the actions of the PNP administration from late 2003 through August 2009, when Britain imposed direct rule.

Further, Hague said that Ewing not only failed to speak to this problem that brought British direct rule but also ignored the consolidated loan of $260 million guaranteed by Britain and the support of numerous British advisers who, in three years of direct rule, have been able to raise government revenue and cut expenses to a break-even position.

Britain imposed certain milestones that had to be achieved before direct rule could be withdrawn and an elected government returned. However, the final milestone yet to be reached was the pay down of the loan, which must be refinanced by 2016 when the British guarantee is lifted. Britain requires the TCI government to submit an acceptable financial plan, which has not yet been achieved by the PNP government in its almost five months in power.

Hague pointed out in a letter to Ewing that there needs to be not only additional taxes but further cuts in spending. Ewing and finance minister Washington Misick and several other PNP ministers have seemingly turned their backs on this requirement and are promising the territory new infrastructure, more government jobs and a growing public sector.

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THE TANGLED WEB OF BRITISH DECEPTION IN THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLAND

THE TANGLED WEB OF BRITISH DECEPTION IN THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS
By Hayden Boyce – Publisher & Editor-in-Chief,in SUN TCI,on 25th of March 2013.
One cannot help but be amused and bemused by how these British operatives, the latest of them being Dr. Philip Rushbrook, the director of strategy in the office of Governor Ric Todd, are trying to continue spinning and their way out of the unholy mess which they have created in the Turks and Caicos Islands and about which they continue to be in absolute denial.

It is rather disingenuous to say the least, that persons of the caliber of Hon. William Hague and now Hon. Mark Simmonds would allow themselves to first, be misled, and secondly to be blindly drawn into this silly debate about what the Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing said to the recent CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Haiti.

After reading and parsing the Premier’s speech, there can be no question whatsoever that what he reported to CARICOM was an accurate representation of what happened, and indeed what continues to occur, in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

What is perhaps most unfortunate in the circumstances, is that none of Hon. Hague, Hon. Simmonds or Mr. Rushbrook can point to any specific part or parts of the Premier’s speech in which he “substantially misrepresented” the past and present situation in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Instead, and true to form, they have made a broad and general characterisation to CARICOM and the rest of the world, which in and of itself, is a gross misrepresentation of what the Premier stated.

For any correspondence coming from officials in such high office to at least be taken seriously by CARICOM or anyone with common sense, it should be stacked with undisputable facts and the itemization of those particular “misrepresentations” which the Premier is alleged to have made.

In the absence of any such specifics of rebuttal, these honorable men are inviting reasonable and sensible persons to arrive at the conclusion that the Premier lied to CARICOM and, as they were at pains to add, to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Nothing, on critical examination of the facts Dr. Ewing pronounced, could be further from the truth.

The letter from William Hague, who is an honorable man, is uncharacteristically and disappointingly weak and skimpy for someone of his stature.

For example, Mr. Hague talks about the British Government providing initial funding for the Providenciales International Airport many years ago, but makes no mention of the fact that the new $10million expansions are being funded by the operations of the airport and with no help from the Brits.

He also mentions the appointment of a Chief Financial Officer to assist with the finances of the TCI, but fails to tell CARICOM that they had to recall the said CFO Hugh McGarel-Groves because he was an under-performer and a spectacular failure.

His explanation about VAT and the reasons why it will not be introduced, was patently pathetic and failed to mention that nearly 100 percent of the business community in TCI were opposed to it, along with the two political parties.

Mr. Hague also stated that former Premier Michael Misick is “resisting return” to TCI, but he did not tell CARICOM that Misick has repeatedly said he wants to return home voluntarily and that he has written that he wants to waive extradition.

These are but some of the fundamental weaknesses and flaws that are contained in Mr. Hague’s letter to CARICOM; but Mr. Hague is an honorable man.

It therefore is quite sad, to say the least, that Mr. Hague, Mr. Simmonds and these other honorable men are seeking to assassinate the Premier’s character and inflict a vicious assault on his credibility, and that they are seeking to do so in the Caribbean political arena.

It is equally disturbing that by virtue of their written words, they are behaving as though the average resident of the Turks and Caicos Islands cannot read and understand, and that they cannot relate to the accuracy of the Premier’s statement which was pregnant with facts. Indeed, if the Premier can be faulted for anything, it should be that he did not give CARICOM leaders more details.

Analysts and observers may very well and rightly come to the conclusion that the only reason this approach is being taken by these honorable British operatives is because the Premier struck a positive chord among his CARICOM colleagues who perhaps finally would have gotten a true sense and clear picture of what is really going on in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

It can be argued that Premier Ewing may have embarrassed the Brits in the presence of Caribbean leaders by exposing their shenanigans. It can be also posited that as far as the real issues in the Turks and Caicos Islands are concerned, the Brits, who have been controlling the narrative regionally and internationally for far too long, may now feel that they are losing the public relations battle.

What, therefore, we are seeing being played out here with this CARICOM issue is a typical and classic example of how certain Brits are known to operate. They are past masters of spin. They have a tendency to paint all with the same brush and their approach to problem-solving is that one size fits all. They don’t like to be challenge. You must either put up or shut up. Moreover, in Caribbean parlance, when they are “out to get you” they seem to be guided by the following famous passage in Alice In Wonderland:

“`Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.
`No, no!’ said the Queen. `Sentence first–verdict afterwards.’
`Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. `The idea of having the sentence first!’
`Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple.
`I won’t!’ said Alice.
`Off with her head!’ the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.
`Who cares for you?’ said Alice, `You’re nothing but a pack of cards!’

While it may not be polite to call these British operatives a “pack of cards”, there is indeed much certainty in saying that they have employed the above tactic before on others here and in other British Overseas Territories and they are now seeking to repeat it with Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands Dr. Rufus Ewing. They are obviously on a mission to sentence him as a liar among his CARICOM colleagues, although there is no evidence to substantiate this.

There is, however, some consolation in the fact that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the leaders of CARICOM know better than to believe everything, in anything, that certain British officials here and elsewhere have to say.

In the words of Sir Walter Scott: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!”

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