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'I lost millions,' says Basil Waite after acquittal

Published:Monday | November 7, 2016 | 12:00 AM

FORMER OPPOSITION Senator Basil Waite says he lost millions of dollars in business deals while awaiting trial on a single corruption charge.

Waite was acquitted of attempting to pervert the course of justice in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court yesterday after prosecutors told a judge they were offering no further evidence against him.

He was arrested and charged by the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency in October 2014 for allegedly trying to influence the outcome of a corruption case by telephoning a businessman who was a witness in the case.

Waite, who was an adviser to former local government minister Noel Arscott, said he was unable to close "certain business deals" with overseas partners because, as part of his bail conditions, he was not able to leave the island.

"People have also questioned doing business with me because when they Google [my name] that's what they see ... the headlines from [my arrest in] October 2014," he told The Gleaner.

"It has stifled many opportunities. The two years have had a tremendous impact mentally and also in terms of my professional pursuits," Waite added.


Witness didn't know Waite


Waite was freed shortly after the trial got under way. Prosecutors decided to abandon their case minutes after the main witness gave evidence.

According to Waite's attorney, Valerie Neita-Robertson, the witness testified that he had a telephone conversation with her client, but acknowledged that he did not know the former senator before and that the conversation was brief.

"To establish that the person he was speaking to was Basil Waite, he would have had to be familiar with Basil Waite's voice. He was not so familiar with Mr Waite's voice," she explained.

In addition, Neita-Robertson said the charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice required prosecutors to prove that when Waite telephoned the businessman, he knew that the case was before the courts and that he asked him to do something that was unlawful.

"They couldn't establish any of that," she underscored.

Neita-Robertson said prosecutors asked for, and received, a short adjournment to contemplate their next move before informing Parish Judge Vaughn Smith of their decision to offer no further evidence against the former senator.

Waite said he has been humbled by his experience.