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.
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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.”
TURKS AND CAICOS STILL LOOKING TOWARDS INDEPENDENCE, SAYS PREMIER RUFUS EWING
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The Turks and Caicos Islands is still considering political independence from Britain, Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing has said.
Ewing told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that “independence remains a major issue” three years after Britain suspended the island’s constitution and set up a one-man commission to probe the government of then premier Michael Misick.
“I think any right thinking country should have independence as its destination. The time period however is the question. The need for independence must be the goal and so everything you do should be to prepare your people and country for that giant step. There will be a number of factors that will come into play as to whether or not that time should be fast tracked or continue along the pace that you would desire to have or would like to have and that would depend on the ongoing relationship with the United Kingdom government and the people in the territory,” he said.
Ewing said that the government “of the day” would also have a role to play and “allowed to do what is right by the people, for the people to improve their standard of living and to prepare us for our plans for moving towards that step of independence.
“If it doesn’t happen, all it does is to make the people even more convinced that independence is our only way out,” said Ewing, who is here attending the 14th annual Caribbean Tourism Organisation organised Sustainable Tourism Conference (STC-14).
He told CMC that over the past three years, more citizens have become convinced “that independence is the way to go, more than ever before in the past because of the relationship we have had (with Britain) over the past three years.
Ewing, who studied in Barbados and Jamaica and is well known throughout the Eastern Caribbean, said while he would not commit personally to a timeframe” for independence, “what I know we will do is to appoint an independence commission from the House of Assembly to look at timeframes to look at milestones that need to be achieved and to look at referendum settings…”.
Ewing, whose government holds a slender one seat majority in Parliament, said there is stability in the country.
“The stability is just about there. We have elected a government that we have confidence in from a stand point of investors,” he said, aware that with a one seat majority in the House “if anything happens then we can keep on going back to by elections and by elections and so it may not give the people the level of security they would want”.
While he would not comment on the re-arrest of former premier Misick in Brazil and the extradition proceedings that had been started against him by Britain, Ewing told CMC he was still “awaiting” a response to suggestions that Britain was trying to re-colonise its territories in the Caribbean including the Cayman Islands.
“Well, I am sure everybody has a reason for doing things and I still awaiting the answer to the question,” he said, adding “I were a conspiracy theorist that would be my theory” as to whether London was using finances to the territories to “keep them in check
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.
War of words between Britain and Turks and Caicos continues
Published on March 15, 2013,by Caribbean News.
TCI Premier Rufus Ewing (L) and Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague
By Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — In a statement to the House of Assembly in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) on Thursday, Premier Rufus Ewing accused Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague of corruption.
Responding to a strongly worded letter on Tuesday from Hague, which had described Ewing’s speech last month to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government as a substantial misrepresentation, Ewing said that the release of Hague’s letter just prior to election petition court hearings and before a potential by-election was an attempt by Britain to influence the voters and the courts and is therefore a corrupt act.
Ewing then went on to defend his address to CARICOM. He repeated his position that CARICOM was a key factor in Britain’s recent agreement to shelve the imposition of value added tax in the TCI. However, none of the CARICOM member states or associate members has made any public statement expressing any opinion in relation to the TCI and/or VAT.
Hague had chided Ewing for failing to mention the dire state of the economy coming out of the previous Progressive National Party (PNP) government led by Michael Misick who, Hague pointed out, remains a fugitive from justice.
Ewing said there was no need for him to mention this because “we all know about these events.”
Ewing went on to say that he was sure that many TCI citizens now favour independence.
For the first time, Ewing, who is himself a medical doctor, spoke about the pressing health care issues in the TCI.
Weeks earlier, Ewing had celebrated the idea of the third party use of the hospitals and health care facilities for medical tourism. As these facilities are operated by private contractors funded by the TCI government, media questioning as to who benefits from the practice has been ongoing.
Ewing said he will be making sure that the TCI gets a share of the third party operations of InterHealth Canada, which is are operating the hospitals.
TCI taxpayers are responsible for paying a $120 million mortgage on the two small hospitals, which also includes an excessive 12 percent rate of interest. The National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP), in the creation of which Ewing was reported to have played a central role, is costing the TCI over 40 percent of every tax dollar collected.
On three separate occasions, Ewing has claimed that financial audits of the hospitals were underway but the new InterHealth Canada CEO said that no audits had been started.
Ewing also blamed the downturn in the economy for people losing their jobs and no longer paying 6 percent of their wages into the health plan.
Date: 18 February 2013
By: Floyd Hall
Subject: Duty Concessions
It was a fascinating read for me going through the Development Order entered into by the Government of the Turks & Caicos Islands and West Caicos Development Company. This was particularly so given that at the Commission of Inquiry of 2009 and the past Interim Administration no effort was speared by the Commissioner and the British big wigs in branding these types of concessions offered by the then PNP Administration as being corrupt and damaging to the people of the Turks & Caicos Islands. In fact, I can still hear the constant refrains from the British folks that included: “because of the concessions offered by the former PNP Administration the country is broke; because of the former PNP Administration the country has lost millions of dollars in revenue; or because of the concessions offered by the previous administration we have to cut cost.”
Those refrains became so monotonous that I think some people begun to tune them out. However, those statements served their purpose well for they cultivated a diabolical and malicious narrative that fed into the notion that the PNP Administration was corrupt and that those investors who were associated with that administration or benefitted in any way from duty concessions offered by that government were likewise corrupt and ought to be held to account. Others harped on the chorus to draw erroneous conclusions that as ministers in government, we stole from the Government’s Treasury or sold the country out.
Needless to say that to jump to such a conclusion was a huge leap especially given that all Development Orders had to be processed through the Attorney General’s Office and ultimately approved by the Cabinet where the British Attorney General set as legal counsel and the Governor set as President. It would appear to me now that for the British, the only thing that mattered was for the elected government of the day to be destroyed and if it were necessary to brand the activities of that government as being corrupt in spite of the vast level of prosperity that it brought to our shores then so be it.
As far as the British representatives were concerned, they had the “support” of the people of the Turks & Caicos Islands to go after us and that they did. They obliterated our Constitution and cast us all as a group of misfits, saved for the few that they picked out to sit on their appointed bodies. Consequently by their actions or, in some cases inaction, they brought our economy to a screeching halt.
A different tale of sorts is now evolving in the Turks & Caicos Islands today. The sinister plot of the British representatives is gradually being exposed. Even those who were in the minority calling out for the British suspension of our Constitution and to take control over our country are beginning to see that this was a monumental mistake. The gross incompetence of some of these British representatives is wreaking havoc on our country daily. We now have a Governor who thinks he is the law; an Attorney General who is absent more often than he is present (both physically and mentally) and law suits that appear to have no end. One has to ask the question these days, was it worth it? Or, are we any better off for what we have had to endure?
Getting back to the issue of duty concessions, I must say that I support the West Caicos Development Group getting its concession. Likewise, I support the concessions that we gave during our time in office to the Seven Stars, Grace Bay Club, The Regent Group of Companies, Third Turtle Club, the Salt Cay Group, Dellis Cay, Beaches, The Veranda and many other foreign investment entities that came to our shores during that period. These concessions are a necessity in small island economies such as ours.
As a small developing country, we have to remain cognizant that we operate in a competitive environment both regionally and internationally. Within the fifty states of the U.S. there is fiscal competitiveness constantly. Texas competes with California for corporate business, New York with New Jersey and there are countless other areas of competiveness. China competes with the U.S with Trade and technology, Hong Kong competes with New York and the City of London. We operate in a competitive universe and elected governments need control of their fiscal policy to make their countries’ economies competitive.
We offer tourism as our main product. Unless we are attractive to foreign investment, it will go elsewhere for certain. Investors everywhere look at the rate of return on their dollars invested and to help them in selecting the TCI for their investment the cost of doing business on our shores is a huge factor in the calculation. That is why we need to remain nimble to adjust to variations in the market place to maintain our competitive edge.
But in meeting the foreign investor’s need for concessions, we cannot forget our indigenous Turks & Caicos Islanders. That is why I am particularly proud of the concessions that our government gave to our local Turks & Caicos Islanders. These included generous concessions to the taxi drivers, the tour boat operators, the owners of apartments, on the fixed assets for commercial businesses, the local car rental agencies, the cargo brokers dealing with bulk material and the list goes on and on. The only criterion that was necessary by my office was that you had to be a Turks & Caicos Islander who was engaged in a business endeavor in our country. The benefits that were given went equally to persons of all walks of life, regardless of political persuasion or color of one’s skin.
Some will quickly say that as a small country we cannot afford these concessions. In fact that is exactly what some of the British pundits said. However, they failed to take into account that had it not been for those concessions many of the properties that we now call development and are contributing heavily to our revenues in the form of accommodation tax, departure tax and import duties would not be here today. Likewise, had we not given concessions to our local businessmen, they would not be the owners of businesses in our country either. Therefore, it would be a huge mistake to look at the concessions in isolation. While concessions must be tempered with reason and balance, they do serve an important function to stimulate or maintain both local and foreign investment.
Our party is indeed very proud of our initiative with duty concessions as well as the others we made in tertiary education, health and Crown land. Before our administration, these areas were beyond the reach of our people on this scale. Many Turks & Caicos Islanders were able to get their businesses started and have remained successfully engaged in their companies to this very day. Some, however, are holding on by a “wing and a prayer” hoping for the construction industry to rebound. Nevertheless they are grateful for the opportunity from our government and expressions of gratitude are given by some to us regularly.
Unfortunately for some of the foreign developers who benefitted from duty concessions during this period, the British Interim Administration rewarded them by assessing heavy penalties simply because they supported our political party with campaign contributions. They have been criminalized or at the very least had their once impeccable reputations besmirched. This is patently unfair to these developers as they were properly entitled to support the political party of their choosing with whatever amount they wished under the prevailing laws of our country at the time. These developers were responsible in part for the exponential growth that our country enjoyed during this period. Many of these developments today are beacons of success for the Turks & Caicos Islands like the Seven Stars. Companies like these are a source of pride for Turks & Caicos Islanders who enjoy employment there. Regrettably, developments like the Salt Cay Group that could have been the gem for Salt Cay residents or Dellis Cay which could have provided invaluable opportunities for the people of North and Middle Caicos had to perish in this ill-conceived exercise by the British.
It is my understanding that some of these developers decided to settle their issues with the SIPT even though they felt that they could win legally but rather than being dragged through an arduous and litigious fight in the courts, they chose to exit this way. For some they settled even if it meant falsely admitting to being culpable to some form of impropriety with the government. For others I understand that no admission was necessary with their settlement.
Regardless of the situation, it seems to me that good governance is only dispensed when duty concessions or other governmental activities are undertaken by the British representatives to our shores. The question now for all indigenous Turks & Caicos Islanders is, are we back to those days when only those who come to our shores could receive a benefit from the government?
You be the judge!
Letter to Rt Hon William Hague-Premier of the Turks and Caicos Calls for the recall of the Governor, the AG and the CFO
February 10, 2013
Rt. Hon. William Hague
First Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Dear Hon. Hague,
I take this opportunity to write to you in your capacity as first Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with overall responsibility for the Governance of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Hon. Hague as stated in my address to Minister Simmonds and Members present at the recently held Joint Ministerial Council, I thank the UK Government for the restoration of democracy in the Turks and Caicos Islands through the holding of elections that have enabled the establishment of a democratically elected Government of the people, by the people and for the people. Hon Hague, I however expressed our concerns as it relates to the good governance of the territory during this current post election period. As a newly elected government we are committed to good governance and the rule of law, but adherence to such principles should apply to all persons, at all levels of government, including the Governor and Attorney General.
Hon. Hague, I recalled attending a town hall meeting in early 2012 hosted by the Governor. Amongst the matters tabled at this meeting was the issue relating to VAT. At that meeting, there were several members of the community who expressed their displeasure at the arrogant and dictatorial manner in which the Governor handled the affairs of the country. At the end of the meeting I posed a simple question to the Governor, “Would an elected Government be able to repeal and reverse any of the laws and decisions of the Interim Administration?” His answer was simply, “Yes as long as it is in conformation with the Constitution and the law”. The answer was perfect, and he said it with a chuckle. Hon. Hague, this brings me to this point, our current Constitution.
Hon. Hague, many of the current atrocities and wrongful acts that are being committed by the Governor and the Attorney General are being done contrary to the stated principals and ideals of our Constitution and international laws of human rights, and some of these acts are being perpetrated under the cover of the Constitution. These actions seriously bring into question, both the character of these individuals, as well as questioning elements of the Constitution, its legality and its fairness.
Hon. Hague, the Turks and Caicos Constitution Order 2011, is not a Constitution of the people, by the people or for the people, and hence it should be amended and advanced, and we should start this process immediately through the proper procedures and dialogue. In the interim, we would expect that the territory of Turks and Caicos be governed by the 2011 Constitution, but with fairness, and the real best interest of the people, as expressed by themselves or through their elected government. This position has been articulated on many occasions in the past. It was stated on many occasions on behalf of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, that the very suspension of the 2006 Constitution was unnecessary. It was well established that there were many other options available to address alleged corruption and maladministration of a government of which the former Governor Tauwhare, was at the centre and head. During the Interim Administration, the Governor had absolute power, and exercised this power, regardless of the expressed wishes of the people of our country! During this period, there was a total disregard for the Constitution with respect to the appointment of a Belonger Deputy Governor. In the absence of the Governor, other members of the Interim Administration were appointed as Acting Governor, in direct contravention of the constitutional order laid down. There was the passage of an Appropriations Bill by the Governor himself. We also witnessed the passage of other laws, such as trial without jury, the hearsay and equality law, components of which go against our principles as a Christian Nation. During the period of the Intermin Administration, the Governor became comfortable to a dictatorial style of rule. Now, however, in the presence the newly elected repreventative government, the Governor and other remaning officials from the former administration, the Attorney General and the Chief Financial Officer, have demonstrated a reluctance to facilitate the transition of governance back to the the people of this country.
Hon. Hague, the alleged wrongdoings of members of the former PNP Administration and associates is quickly being exposed as being a farce, impregnated with cloak and dagger acts on the part of the Governor, AG Chambers and SIPT, to incarcerate Turks and Caicos Islanders at all costs, even at the cost of the violation of the principles of justice and the human rights of individuals. There is now a growing focus by the regional and international community on this matter, as blatant acts of “justice for sale” have been conducted here in the TCI under the disguise of plea bargaining. Such cases include many well-known expatriate developers who have secured their freedom from prosecution, both by monetary exchange under the guise of “Civil Recovery” and by providing evidence against accused local politician “co-conspirators”. Hon Hague, the sale of justice is not an example of good governance! Furthermore, it is quite evident that the Governor is deeply involved with the day to day operations of the SIPT, hence, is subject to impaired judgment, or has questionable motives in overseeing the affairs of this country.
Hon Hague during the period of the Interim Administration, the Governor asented to numerous pieces of legislation and undertook many reforms which were meant to create an environment of good governance and effective and efficient administration during a period of economic downturn. However, these legislations, reforms, austerity measures and tax policies that were implemented in preference to robust revenue strategies resulted in high unemployment, social neglect, large emigration of members of the workforce, abundant business closures and much civil unrest. These effects were coupled with a Governor, who ruled without a social conscience, and had no respect for the business community or indigenous local community, many of whom have publically expressed reciprocal sentiments of the Governor. The Governor and his administration, in their haste to expedite their mandate or agenda ended up violating many principles of good governance that had recently been approved and committed many acts that were similar, or identical to those that members of the previous administration were alleged to have committed. These acts were of such magnitude that even those persons who called for the intervention of the UK Government were calling for the recall of the Governor and regretted the method of intervention by the British.
Hon. Hague, the financial trough that the Turks and Caicos is currently in, due in part to the preferential austerity measures by the Governor is not insurmountable, as the potential of the Turks and Caicos is great and the future is bright. We acknowledge our properly verifiable debt, and are committed to the repayment of this debt. However, the financial strategy for economic growth and loan repayment via VAT that is mandated by the various financial mandates of the CFO and the Governor, are not the way to prosperity. The arguments against VAT in the TCI, and the need for the current method of taxation and economic diversification and growth as avenues to prosperity have all been well articulated by many. The people of this country from all sectors and the representatives of the people, in the House of Assembly, have all said “NO TO VAT” and are all in agreement with the economic strategies put forward by the government. Denial of the expressed wishes of the people, would be a clear indication of democracy not being restored to the people of the TCI!
Hon. Hague as stated already, our beautiful by nature Turks and Caicos has a bright future. But the current Governor, Attorney General and CFO, as remnants of the previous administration are obstacles in the way of prosperity. They never have, and even more so now, enjoyed the trust, confidence and support of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. I am hereby requesting that Governor His Excellency Damian Todd, Attorney General Huw Shepard and the Chief Finanical Officer Hugh McGarrel Groves be recalled and replaced by unbiased individuals, better suited to adapt to and to work synergistically with a democratically elected government, the business community and the local community. This will ensure that all stakeholders will have a fresh start at governing the Turks and Caicos Island in the best interest of our people.
Dr. The Hon. Rufus W. Ewing
Turks and Caicos Islands
House of Assembly votes to repeal VAT, final decision rest with Governor Todd the Dictator
Published in TCI POST on 01st February
The House of Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to repeal the VAT law…………
The Governor put himself in a very awkward position regarding the VAT Bill. It was unprofessional, undiplomatic and dictatorial for him to publicly announced before the elections that an elected government cannot repeal VAT.
Now the governor has his his ego to protect and no doubt would use his considerable offensive colonial powers under the TCI British imposed constitution to veto the bill repealing VAT.
Nevertheless the government and the opposition did the right thing in voting for the repeal of VAT. The only voice in the House of Assembly that argued against repealing the bill was the governor’s appointed member Lillian Misick.
Should the Governor veto this bill whether with the advice of the Secretary of state or or his own accord, it is likely to trigger a series of events which could see civil disobedience on one hand or a spirited diplomatic effort to ensure that the bill is repealed.
The Minister of Finance stated that if the bill is not repealed that he would refused to enforce the law as it relates to VAT. I have no confidence in this approach although I wholeheartedly admire the tenacity of the Minister of Finance.
The trio of the Governor, the AG and the CFO will just do what they do best. They will intimidate and threaten civil servants to enforce VAT. The Governor made it clear in a recent press release that the TCI is jointly governed by him and the PNP. This is a clear admission by the governor that there are two governments performing at the same time in the TCI.
So folks the fight is far from over, in fact it has just began. John Glasgow
Press Statement from Michael Misick in Response to the AG Statement
Published in TCI POST on 01st February
I have read with amazement the comments of the Attorney General Huw Sheppard as to why I cannot return home voluntarily.
Firstly, I nor my legal representatives have ever given any previous assurance of my return nor was I ever ask to show up at any police station at any given time to answer any questions.
Sometime during 2011 my legal representatives received a letter from Helen Garlick saying that she would be inviting me to return for questions. My lawyer responded by asking for full disclosure and subjects of the questions so that I could be prepared to answer them. My lawyer never received full disclosure or the subject matter of the questions.
The next time I heard anything from SIPT or Helen Garlick was in February 2012 when they issued an Interpol Red Alert for my arrest. By that time, because of my belief that I could not get a fair trial and that me and my colleagues are being prosecuted for our political beliefs I had already applied for political asylum in Brazil. Once the Red Alert was issued, I was stuck in Brazil and could not travel home freely. There was no window of opportunity given to me to voluntarily show up.
I am a political prisoner having been arrested illegally at the request of the Attorney General Huw Shepheard and the British Government and documents they filed in the Brazilian Supreme Court requesting my detention and extradition to the Turks and Caicos Islands. For that reason, the only way that I can be released from prison is if the AG and the British Government withdraw the prison order and agree to my voluntary return. My stay in jail is not up to the Brazilian authorities as the AG asserted but it is up to the TCI Attorney General Huw Shepheard, Special Prosecutor Helen Garlick and the British Government.
In spite of still holding the belief that I cannot get a fair trial, I and my lawyers have offered for me to voluntarily return home in exchange for the AG and the British Government withdrawing my prison order. I was arrested on December 7th 2012. Today is Janurary 27th 2013. If the AG and others were truly interested in me coming home to face justice why for almost 60 days they had not made the official request for my extradition or accepted my offer to voluntarily return home?
It is obvious that the delay is about revenge and my continued political prosecution, they want to punish me by keeping me locked down in a maximum security prison in Brazil for as long as they can. Reality is that I have applied for political asylum in Brazil and there is a Red Alert out for me so how am I a flight risk? Why would I abandon my asylum application and leave Brazil? In fact I cannot do anything without the AG and Helen Garlick agreement to lift the Red Alert.
By these facts I again call on the AG and Helen Garlick, if they are truly interested in fairness and justice, to allow me to come home voluntarily so that I can answer questions and begin to prepare my defense since they have already decided that I will be charged even before asking me the first question.
It makes no sense to waste more of the TCI tax payers time and money on a long and drawn-out extradition process. The AG knows that extradition is a process and that the process must be followed wether I consent to be extradited or not. I have publicly declared my willingness to come home voluntarily, I am interested in justice. I am interested in coming home to clear my name.
The Ag and others can facilitate my speedy return so I can face their justice or they can continue to make excuses and continue their prosecution of me and punishing me without a trial by leaving me in jail in Brazil because they are upset that I did not return home a year ago. This is revenge, not justice. The choice is theirs not the Brazilian authorities.
I could be home to face whatever charges they choose to place on me in 24 to 48 hours of the AG and the British Government agreeing to my voluntary return.
There is recent president for this in England where at least one high profile prisoner did agree to voluntarily return there to face charges after being away for many years. My situation is no different from theirs.
It is highly unusual for a person that is a country’s most wanted to want to voluntarily return and the authorities of that country refusing to accept him or to expedite his return.
Something is wrong with this picture. It is up to you Mr. Attorney General.
Former Premiere of the Turks and Caicos Islands
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Official request made to Brazil for extradition of former Turks and Caicos premier
Published on January 30, 2013
By Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — A formal request for former premier Michael Misick’s extradition to the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) was lodged with the Brazilian government on Tuesday, said TCI attorney general Huw Shepheard.
According to Shepheard, the TCI’s chief magistrate and the acting attorney general formally certified the papers last week and they were taken to Brazil on Sunday.
“Some time was needed to assemble the documentation and to have the request translated into Portuguese; however, the request has been made well within the time limit imposed by the extradition treaty, in accordance with the intention of the TCI government and the special investigation prosecution team (SIPT) to secure Michael Misick’s return to the TCI by due process of law,” he said.
Following his arrest in Rio de Janeiro in December last year, Misick has been held in custody by authorities in Brazil pending the outcome of the extradition request by Britain to return him to the TCI for questioning in connection with allegations of malfeasance while in office.
By Floyd Hall – Former Minister of Finance
Published in SUN TCI
It is most gratifying to see that the two political parties and the business community have finally gotten together to unify around a common cause in the best interest of the people of the Turks & Caicos Islands.
Sadly though, it seems as if it has taken the British Governor and the FCO stepping on the toes of some people or some groups directly before they could appreciate the gross injustice that has been meted out on this beautiful country before unified action is taken. Having said that, it is a good thing that we have achieved some modicum of cohesion, even if this may only be for the benefit of some business owners’ personal self-interest.
However, I wish to address a point that is dear to me and my former colleagues in that the former PNP administration is being misrepresented by Neil Smith in the Governor’s Office as it relates to his comments on VAT.
In Mr. Smith’s statement to the press on 15 January 2013 addressing the implementation of VAT, he stated that the former PNP Government was in support of VAT. That statement is completely false.
While it is the case that the former PNP had agreed to explore the option of selecting one of four taxation models being imposed on us by advocates for the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD), the European Union, IMF and the FCO to obtain compliance with international tax standards in our Financial Services Industry and to achieve revenue sustainability, it was never the case where VAT was selected as a done deal for implementation in the Turks & Caicos Islands by our PNP administration.
For Neil Smith to suggest that the noble intentions by our government to search for sustainable revenue streams for our country as an endorsement of VAT is grossly misleading and is typical of how the Governor’s Office has been conducting the affairs of this country for the last three years.
It was in my budget address of 2007 when I first informed the people of the Turks & Caicos Islands about comprehensive revenue reform for our country. A direct quote from that address follows:
“While recent revenue growth has been positive, it is concentrated in a few areas. We need to lessen our dependence on import duties as global tariffs reduction become more commonplace. If we do not do likewise, our competitiveness in attracting foreign investment could be eroded. The current tax regime also needs to be widened if we are to raise the necessary revenue on a sustainable basis to implement our plans. We also need to have a tax regime, which incentivizes positive behaviours and penalizes negative ones. Mr. Speaker, these objectives can be achieved through the introduction of alternative broad based taxes that are elastic, and the introduction of user charges where they can serve to defray costs. The time to act is now – we plan to consider all options.
In this regard, Mr. Speaker, I led a delegation to the Bahamas last week to discuss their revenue regime and strategies, and develop technical cooperation and exchanges in this area. We have already held discussions with the Caribbean Area Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC) concerning technical assistance to prepare a Tax Policy Study for consideration by government. This study would look at our economic structures, tax regime and recommend reforms to increase revenue yield on a sustainable basis. We are committed to this worthy task. I look forward to keeping this Honourable House and the nation informed of activities in this area.”
I later made a follow up reference to broadening our revenue base in the 2008 budget but never did I offer support for VAT or any other comprehensive tax mechanism. Unfortunately the study referenced to in the 2007 address never materialized as the country was hit by two successive hurricanes in 2008 causing extensive damage throughout the country and the global financial collapse that immediately followed in 2009 made the exercise untenable.
Our administration back in 2007 was asked to consider four different models: income tax, property tax, sales tax and VAT.
Preliminary indications from the business sector at the time suggested that the real estate and hotel industries had no appetite at all for income tax or property tax. It was believed that the real estate market was just getting its legs firmly established and that any form of taxes on income or property would be a serious deterrent to investment and would derail the real estate sector. The sales tax and VAT likewise had vociferous opposition to them albeit less so than the others but never was there any decision nor was there any canvassing of support for one tax over the other by the former PNP administration.
To the best of my knowledge, the deliberate promotion of VAT was only done when the hand-picked members of the Advisory Council and Consultative Forum ill-advisedly passed legislation implementing VAT, Trials With-out Jury, and Hearsay Evidence legislation. My recollection at the time was that there was a public outcry against all three pieces of legislation. The radio talk shows vented the opposition of the people to these Bills and so did the print and televised media.
Ironically some of the very same people who were a part of these hand-picked bodies gave credibility to the same pieces of legislation that they are now vehemently against. Similarly, the very same Governor’s office who seeks to castigate and vilify the former PNP administration at every opportunity it gets now seeks to use this same administration to fortify its promotion of VAT.
There is a popular saying that I believe resonates universally which states “you cannot have your cake and eat it too”. I think this saying applies aptly to the Governor’s Office promotion of VAT as well as those who now oppose it and gave validity to its imminent implementation. I know some will be quick to say that they opposed those pieces of legislation when they sat on those bodies. To that I will use the other popular maxim which states “the devil is in the details”.
However, I believe that the entire country is relieved that the voices that seem to matter are speaking out in unison regardless of the channels that may have brought them to this central point. To that I say thank you to all and sundry as I do wish you success in this worthy undertaking to begin the New Year.