BRITISH WARSHIP PATROLS BETWEEN TURKS AND CAICOS AND HAITI

British warship patrols between TCI and Haiti
Published on April 30, 2013

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Wave Knight was on patrol in Turks and Caicos Island (TCI) waters on Sunday.

The ship, which is on the UK’s Atlantic Patrol Task (North), in support of the Overseas Territories, patrolled the waters between TCI and Haiti at the request of the Governor’s Office after the recent flurry of attempts to enter the territory illegally.

TCI immigration officials repatriated nearly 300 illegal immigrants earlier this month. The Haitian and TCI governments are working closely to prevent sloops of migrants from even considering leaving Hispaniola.

Wave Knight also passed Salt Cay, Grand Turk and South Caicos on Sunday morning, before looping around North and Middle Caicos and Providenciales in the afternoon.

During her passage south of Salt Cay Wave Knight took the opportunity to observe and gather information on the presence of vessels fishing the Mouchoir Bank.

The Atlantic Patrol Task (North) commitment has one or more UK warships stationed in the Caribbean to provide disaster relief during hurricane season, and to work with other nations to prevent people and drug trafficking. When time permits other tasks are undertaken such as fisheries protection in the waters of the Overseas Territories.

20130430-110808.jpg

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.”

20130418-215701.jpg

TURKS AND CAICOS STILL LOOKING TOWARDS INDEPENDENCE, SAYS PREMIER RUFUS EWING

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

20130418-105539.jpg

Former Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick Rearrested Again In Brazil

MICHAEL MISICK REARRESTED IN BRAZIL
Former Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands Michael Misick was re-arrested by Brazilian Federal Police late in the evening of Saturday 13th April 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil on the authority of a Brazilian Supreme Court judgement, according to Governor’s spokesman Neil Smith.

Smith said that on Monday 15th April 2013, the Brazilian Justice Minister issued his decision to refuse Michael Misick’s appeal against a decision not to grant him political asylum. The decision was published on Tuesday 16 April in the Brazilian Official Gazette.

Misick was first arrested on 7th December 2012 by Brazilian Federal Police acting on a provisional arrest warrant. Arrest was sought by the TCI Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (set up to investigate issues arising from Sir Robin Auld’s 2008-09 Commission of Inquiry).

TCI prosecutors submitted formal extradition papers on Monday 28 January 2013 within the required 60 day time limit from the time of Michael Misick’s arrest. It is hoped that the extradition process can now proceed unhindered.

Smith said in the press release that Misick faces a number of serious charges relating to corruption and maladministration in TCI during his time in office.

“ It is in the best interests of the TCI that allegations of wrong doing are thoroughly investigated and that Michael Misick returns there as soon as possible to answer these charges. As Michael Misick was born in a British Overseas Territory, he is, therefore, receiving British Consular Assistance; he was last visited by British consular officials on Monday 15 April in Sao Paulo,” Smith added.

20130416-192502.jpg

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.

20130416-114814.jpg

20130416-114825.jpg

BRITAIN TARGETS BANKS IN GRAND CAYMAN AND BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

Britain targets banks in Cayman and British Virgin Islands
Published on April 16, 2013

By Caribbean News Now contributor

LONDON, England — Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is reportedly finalising measures to clamp down on two Caribbean tax havens.

Under tough anti-evasion measures being drawn up by the Treasury, banks in the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands will be forced to reveal details about customers suspected of hiding money offshore.

The Caribbean islands are among the world’s main offshore financial centres. More than one million offshore companies are registered in the British Virgin Islands alone, even though the total population is just 30,000.

“The places you can hide are getting smaller and smaller,” Osborne said at the weekend at the European finance ministers’ summit in Dublin.

“We are in advanced stages of discussion [with the two territories]. They are in no doubt about what we expect,” he added.

Osborne’s remarks drew an immediate reaction from Cayman Islands Stock Exchange Chairman, Anthony Travers.

According to Travers, if the UK recovery is dependent on revenues from Osborne’s tax crackdown on Caribbean financial centres, then he is in for a rude awakening.

Travers said, “I am deeply troubled that the meritless attacks on the Overseas Territories by [Austrian Finance Minister Maria] Fekter appear to be gaining traction. Furthermore, there seems to be no contrary assertion from the UK government and the chancellor as to the true position .This is in neither of our interests, as in turn it seems to me to leave the City open to further Franco-German attack by association. But this is an attack based on mischaracterization.

“A cursory review of the publically available statistics under the European Saving Directive which established fully transparent proactive tax reporting shows bank deposits in Cayman of EU residents of a statistically irrelevant US$25 million,” he pointed out.

“The correct answer to Ms Fekter should have been that the Overseas Territories already demonstrate full tax transparency .Given that HMRC already has full treaty access to Cayman accounts for UK tax purposes, the provisions of FATCA are simply duplicative, wholly unnecessary and will raise no additional revenue,” Travers added.

He went on to say that it has not escaped his notice that Osborne has also attacked the British Virgin Islands, which has similar tax transparency with the UK and the USA.

“He should know that the BVI has an extensive network of some twenty one tax information exchange agreements providing for complete tax transparency notably to HMRC and the IRS; that they are concluding the FATCA negotiation with the UK, and the US and that they are considering moving to proactive reporting with the EU under the Directive,” he said.

He pointed out that the Cayman Islands, as well as the BVI and Bermuda, regard tax evasion as firmly off the table but yet they are continually labeled tax havens, a term that has become synonymous with illegality and wrongdoing.

“Our measures in Cayman far exceed the tax transparency available in Austria (and many other places, including the US) and yet we find no rebuttal from Chancellor Osborne, rather the contrary. One can only gaze in awe at the misinformation being promoted by a UK chancellor and wonder why he appears willing to assist the French and Germans in their avowed quest to irretrievably damage The City of London’s global dominance,” Travers concluded.

Meanwhile, in a letter on Sunday to the editor of Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper, BVI Premier Dr Orlando Smith responded to an article published on Saturday, headlined “Margaret Thatcher the tax snatcher?”

The article claimed that Thatcher’s £6 million (US$9 million) London townhouse is owned by a BVI company, which could have been a scheme that would help her estate avoid millions in inheritance tax.

John Christensen, of the Tax Justice Network, said: “How can a former prime minister spend more than two decades living in a house in London that has been owned for many years by a company based in the British Virgin Islands? We all have a duty to pay our taxes, and that includes former politicians.”

However, Smith said that the article makes the classic error of assuming that the use of an offshore structure is in some way improper for UK tax purposes or that some unauthorised benefit is obtained.

“That is simply an unsound assumption. The fact that HMRC has clear avenues to obtain all tax information from the BVI should in fact lead your correspondent to the contrary conclusion; that offshore structuring in the Overseas Territories is correct and within the law,” Smith said.

“The legitimate use of transparent offshore financial centres needs to be better understood by your journalists,” he concluded.

20130416-114256.jpg

Governor Ric Todd from Turks and Caicos marks Grand Turk hospital third anniversary

Governor marks Grand Turk hospital third anniversary
Published on April 15, 2013

On Wednesday, Governor Ric Todd visited the Cockburn Town Medical Centre in Grand Turk to mark the third anniversary of his predecessor, Gordon Wetherell, officially opening the facility three years ago.

The governor was accompanied throughout his visit by Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) government permanent secretary in the ministry of health, Desiree Lewis. They were joined on their visit by director of health services, Dr Nadia Astwood, InterHealth’s CEO Jill Magri, Cockburn Town Medical Center hospital administrator Dr Denise Braithwaite, engineer Donald Wilson and internist Dr Ravindra.

Todd heard how over the past three years the hospital has treated: 86,810 accident and emergency visits; 5,914 inpatient admissions; 141,375 outpatient visit; 1,462 inpatient and 1,948 day surgeries.

Some of the benefits and improvements of the new hospital over its predecessor include:

• The cost of overseas treatment has fallen from $60m to $10m each year.

• The ability to deliver local orthopedic services with an in-house surgeon, reducing overseas costs; as well as oncology services and reconstructive plastic surgery services.

• An improved international reputation – the hospital was quoted in a major meeting in Trinidad and Tobago last summer as an example of excellence, and awarded Diamond Accreditation by Accreditation Canada.

• A first class diagnostics service, enabling better diagnosis and, where patient required overseas transfer, the provision of clinical information / images essential for the receiving centre. There was no on-island radiologist or pathologist prior to the opening of the hospital.

• Development of locally provided urology services using the skills of a UK trained practitioner with a strong regional reputation.

• High patient satisfaction levels.

• The hospitals’ teleconference capabilities support Ministry of Health work between the TCI islands.

“While the challenges of the cost of healthcare provision are a challenge to governments all over the world, today was an occasion to pause and reflect on how much healthcare has improved here in the TCI in recent times,” said Todd. “What I saw today were happy, satisfied patients and caring, hard working health professionals doing a great job.”

Lewis also explained to the governor the TCI government’s plans for the development of long term care and hospice facilities, which would release the Wellness Centre, located on the site of the previous hospital, to be developed for other uses such as psychiatry. Other developments under discussion include: expanding ophthalmology, mammography, echocardiography, neurophysiology, blood donor and transfusion facilities as well as looking to build a medical tourism offering.

20130415-105758.jpg

Turks and Caicos has one of lowest Crime Rates in the Region

Turks and Caicos still has one of lowest crime rates in region, says police commissioner
Published on April 15, 2013,Caribbean News Now

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force Commissioner Colin Farquhar has stated that the TCI still has one of the lowest crime rates in the region and has excellent success in solving crimes.

The territory recently had a spike in violent crime that was quickly countered with investigative and patrol initiatives, which that had very positive affects in reducing crime.

Two high profile cases that received international attention have been successfully investigated and resulted in suspects being charged and remanded until June 7, 2013, at which time they will appear in the Supreme Court for a sufficiency hearing.

Various other investigations have led to crimes being detected in a matter of a few short days.

The commissioner acknowledged officers for their tireless efforts and for utilising sound police investigative strategies in apprehending the alleged suspects responsible for the crimes. He also thanked the community, businesses, and government for their assistance and support.

“It is realised that strong partnerships are imperative to ensuring a safe and secure society for our citizens as well as our visitors. The recent successes can be attributed to this,” Farquhar said.

The commissioner nevertheless stressed that residents and visitors must continue to exercise proper precautions and have an awareness of their surroundings, as it is recognised that there are still individuals who will take advantage of situations and persons to further their criminal enterprise.

The police will be initiating a program to work closer with hotel security officers, managers and other tourism related personnel on crime prevention. This is an addition to other special initiatives already in place, which have had positive outcomes.

20130415-104208.jpg

Chance of Oil Find in Bahamas

25-30 percent chance of oil find in Bahamas, says exploration company
Published on April 13, 2013

By Krystel Rolle
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter

NASSAU, Bahamas — There is a 25 percent to 30 percent chance the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) will discover oil in The Bahamas, according to Paul Gucwa, BPC’s chief operating officer.

“What we’re about to do is explore to find out whether there’s oil there or not,” said Gucwa on the Guardian Radio show “Darold Miller Live” on 96.9 FM.

“And as explorationists, I can tell you that our perception is there is a one in three or one in four chance (that there is oil). So it’s not certain that we are going to find oil.”

The government has approved exploratory drilling to determine if the country has commercially viable oil reserves before it holds a referendum on the issue at the end of 2014 or early 2015.

Gucwa said even if BPC does find oil, it will take years before production gets going.

“Should we be fortunate enough to find oil, it will be four to six years before we’re able to put the facilities in place to begin production and that’s the time that we intend to train people to take the jobs in The Bahamas.

“As a company we are committed to hiring Bahamians to fill all the jobs that we can.”

Gucwa called into the radio show to address concerns expressed by Rev. Andrew Stewart and Rev. Wesley Campbell of the National Citizen’s Alliance Coalition (NCAC), who were guests on the show.

As it relates to the offering of BPC shares, Gucwa said, “It’s not an easy task to get it through the Securities Commission and the Central Bank, but we’re putting our best efforts into doing that so that the shares will be available for Bahamians to buy should they want it.”

Kenred Dorsett, minister for the environment and housing, has said a commercial oil find would be “economically transformative”.

However, Prime Minister Perry Christie said last month his government is not counting on the discovery of oil in the country for revenue generation.

“Nobody has discovered oil in commercial quantities in The Bahamas,” he noted.

“I most certainly wouldn’t be counting that now in terms of projections.

“I’m trying to change the taxation model in the country because I can’t work on the premise that there is oil in The Bahamas that I don’t know of.

“That’s still speculative, still well into the future.”

The NCAC wants the government to change a sliding-scale agreement it has with BPC for oil revenue and establish an independent sovereign trust fund.

Under the current agreement, BPC would pay out anywhere from 12.5 percent to 25 percent to the government, depending on how much oil is extracted each day, if oil is discovered.

Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 523 other followers

%d bloggers like this: