By Caribbean News Now contributor,on 26th of March.
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — Following the mysterious leak of witness statements claimed to be from the files of the special investigation and prosecution team (SIPT) in the Turks and Caicos Islands, in circumstances reminiscent of the infamous Watergate break-in of the 1970s in Washington, “Statementgate” continues to be a source of much local interest, with the witness statement of Karen Delancy being dissected both for the information it contains and for the historical scenario the former Progressive National Party (PNP) minister of health describes.
According to Delancy’s witness statement, at one of the first meetings she attended with then chief minister Michael Misick, he laid out a plan to set up an Integrity Commission to investigate the dealings of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), which he said at the meeting was known to be corrupt.
This meeting occurred shortly after the by-election in 2003, when Misick was able to reverse the results of the election earlier that year, which had given a third term to then chief minister Derek Taylor and his PDM party. The election results were close in two districts and Misick claimed that voters had been bribed by PDM operatives. During a court hearing, witnesses confirmed this, which resulted in a by-election that reversed the results, handing the government over to Misick and the PNP.
Taylor has claimed that the witnesses themselves were tainted, not truthful in their testimony and later were arrested and served prison time for non-related offences (not perjury). This has, however, not been confirmed.
Delancy’s 26-page statement dated June 27, 2011, lays out a story of a regime wherein Misick himself became increasingly dictatorial and was openly critical of Delancy as then health minister for her plans to build two hospitals: one in Grand Turk with 15 beds and one in Providenciales with 40 beds. During the previous PDM administration, Taylor wanted to build one hospital on his home island of Grand Turk.
She also paints a picture of increasing involvement by Dr Rufus Ewing in the management of the health system of the TCI. Most of what was actually occurring was not in conformity with the plans she had laid out as health minister, Delancy says.
“[F]rom the day I took up my post I believe that Dr Ewing opposed everything that I had set out to do,” she says.
She explains from her perspective how she was leveraged out as minister and how the ministry was partitioned and assigned to others, with then deputy premier and finance minister Floyd Hall carrying the title of health minister but only handling the financial aspects of the hospital construction.
The witness statement describes how another former minister, McAllister Minister, Hanchell began to monopolize valuable commercial land acreage near the airport and ports with the goal of installing a fuel tank farm.
Delancy by that time had become a backbencher and claims she was told that backbench members of the House of Assembly were not qualified to obtain the choice land and business assignments being passed out to ministers.
She then describes what happened after the hurricanes in August-September 2008. She says that in the budget address (April 2008) of that year finance minister Floyd Hall claimed the finances of TCI were in surplus, but surprisingly there were no funds available to deal with the aftermath of the hurricanes. She says the country and the PNP party were angered when then premier Misick ignored the crisis and left the country.
The twice-elected MP then tells how the parliament became increasingly disappointed in the premier’s management or lack thereof.
She mentions the motion of no confidence brought before the House by opposition members (Seymour, Robinson and Parnell) but does not describe how the Speaker avoided having the motion acted on. Then she goes on to describe events that ended in the premier’s resignation, saying it was more of a PNP party decision and not one made in parliament. The decision she says involved non politicians Arial Misick and Carlos Simons, who acted as an adviser to those who wanted Misick removed and as a intermediary between the PNP and then Governor Gordon Wetherell.
She indicates that, in the early stages of the no-confidence move, Floyd Hall was the leader. Then she tells of a meeting between her and Misick, where Misick apologized for treating her badly and offered to make her the first female deputy premier in exchange for her support. Delancy then says that Misick told her that Hall had made more poor deals than he (Misick) had and that Floyd Hall’s relationship with Delroy Howell of Southern Health Network had increased overseas health costs from $10 million to $40 million per year.
According to Delancy, most of the PNP parliamentarians were angry at Misick because they were not included in either the sand mining “deal” to sell sand overseas or other government manipulations. Another former PNP minister, Lillian Boyce, reportedly complained because her husband Hayden Boyce (the editor of the Sun newspaper) ought to have received $15,000 per month as an “adviser” to the government.
Delancy claims she was stunned when she learned that Lillian Boyce and Greg Lightbourne, who were part of group attempting to remove Misick, “jumped back into bed with him.” (Boyce became deputy premier and Lightborne minister of land.)
According to the Delancy statement, she received campaign donations leading up to the 2007 election of $11,000 in total, from Clive Stanbrook ($1,000) and David Smith $10,000). Only later did she learn that Smith headed a Ponzi scheme, she says.
Delancy says that her second cousin Jen Messam and husband Rex Messam were close friends of David Smith and were also part of a social circle including Floyd and Lisa Hall. Michael Misick, Galmo Williams, McAllister Hanchell and Lillian Boyce were also said to be part of the same group.
Messam reportedly delivered the cheque for $10,000 from Smith to Delancy.