Court rules against ex-TCI premier Michael Misick in corruption case
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos, CMC –A High Court judge has ruled there’s a case for ex-premier Michael Misick and four of his cabinet ministers to answer following a corruption trial that lasted nearly four years.
Judge Paul Harrison disagreed with the attorneys for Misick and for the eight other accused which includes the ex-Cabinet ministers, who had spent several weeks earlier this year arguing that the prosecution had failed to show sufficient evidence of their clients' alleged misdeeds.
In January, the lawyers had demanded the trials be dismissed because the Crown had failed to make them “manageable,” but the judge disagreed, noting that the long delays had been unavoidable.
The trial had officially opened in December 2015 and was expected to last just six months.
Lead prosecutor Andrew Mitchell QC and his team had argued that various bribes were received between 2003 and 2009 in relation to eight separate developments when Misick and others were in office.
The conspiracy is said to have taken place between four members of the then Cabinet, namely Misick and his ministers Floyd Hall, McAllister Hanchell and Jeffrey Hall.
Other allegations centre on the way political donations were spent, including a charge of conspiracy to defraud the then ruling Progressive National Party and its members of donations.
Misick’s party is alleged to have received US$13.5 million over seven years for “electoral purposes” and the prosecution sad that he spent much of the money on himself, including US$23,000 given to his wardrobe stylist; US$110,000 for a boat charter for Misick’s then-wife, Hollywood actress LisaRaye McCoy, and nine of her friends; and a further US$150,000 apparently debited for furnishings in the newly-built Misick mansion.
The allegations followed a Commission of Inquiry initiated by the British government in 2008 with much of the allegations involving transactions with foreign developers seeking to build resorts during a period of unprecedented investment.
The court heard that several large parcels of government land were sold to local people at special discounted rates, then again to investors at market rates, with defendants pocketing the difference.
Other charges range from avoidance of customs duties to handing out ‘Belonger status’ citizenships to entitle foreigners to purchase Crown land.
Mitchell spent two and a half years laying out the Crown’s case before wrapping up last September.
Premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson said earlier this month that the cost of the trial was almost US$100 million.
The British government has so far refused Cartwright-Robinson repeated request for the bill to be shared.