By Caribbean News Now contributor,02.04.2012
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — The appearance in the public domain of witness statements by former Turks and Caicos Islands MP Karen Delancy and former politician Shaun Malcolm has provided considerable insight into local political events of recent years.
The Delancy statement was recently reviewed here, with the benefit of access to a complete copy of the actual statement. In contrast, Malcolm’s statement is notable for its extensive blacked out redactions.
Nevertheless, it has been learned that former Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) leader Floyd Seymour was angered when he saw the statement because, according to Seymour, much of it is fabricated and only reflects the disappointments experienced by Malcolm in his political career. Seymour declined comment but he did say that he wished Malcolm well and was praying for him.
The statement does, however, provide insight into the operations of the PDM and the Progressive National Party (PNP) from Malcolm’s perspective. In the last ten years, Malcolm has had a foothold in both camps and at one time attempted to orchestrate a takeover of the PDM, with a view to getting himself appointed to parliament and then to become a PDM candidate for office.
Malcolm was also a leading contributor to the TCI Journal weblog; however, the Journal has indicated that Malcolm has not submitted any articles for over a year.
What has brought Malcolm’s activities to light is the sudden appearance of his 16-page witness statement dated October 2010, apparently for the use of the special investigation and prosecution team (SIPT).
The source for the apparent leak of the statement has yet to be identified; however, attorney general Huw Shepheard has threatened to bring legal proceedings against those responsible for disclosing the documents to the media, effectively confirming that the documents in question are in fact genuine.
According to local sources, physical copies of both statements are reported to have first surfaced during a meeting at “Gillys Restaurant” at the Provo Airport, which is owned by former premier Galmo Williams.
In his statement, Malcolm claims to be a politician and also a “civic leader”, and goes on to describe how, as a member of a singing group that performed at political functions, he became acquainted with various politicians from both political parties in the TCI.
This, he says, caused him to choose to become active in the PNP in 1997, becoming chairman of the Provo Branch of the PNP until 1999, when he ran for office as a PNP candidate but was unsuccessful. Records indicate that, as a candidate, he received a minimal number of votes.
At that election, the Derek Taylor-led PDM government was returned to a second term, after having defeated the Washington Misick PNP administration, which served one term beginning in 1995.
Despite his defeat, Malcolm says he remained active as a PNP member until 2002. This was approximately one year before the 2003 election. In the Malcolm statement he reports that the reason for his leaving the PNP was the coming to power within the party of Michael Misick. Malcolm says he forecast Misick to be self serving political leader.
Malcolm goes on to say that the PDM (then led by Taylor) approached him in 2002, the same year he left the PNP, asking his advice on how to counter Michael Misick as the opposition leader. Malcolm says he then joined the PDM and was appointed by the Taylor-led party as national campaign manager for the 2003 election.
While the PDM party headed by Derek Taylor was based in Grand Turk, they did have a successful member of parliament at that time in Clarence Selver of North Caicos (Michael Misick’s home island) and former MP Sam Harvey of adjacent Middle Caicos.
In the 2003 election, the eight-year-old PDM administration lost, due to marginal wins and the reversal of two election districts during a by-election. The by-election resulted from witnesses saying they were offered bribes by a PDM operative for their votes.
Malcolm says in his statement that, during his tenure as campaign manager, one campaign donation alone from Jack Civre of Seven Stars resort amounted to $400,000. It has long been held maintained by then PDM leader Derek Taylor that the witnesses who claimed they were offered bribes were themselves bribed by the PNP to give false testimony. However, they were never investigated or charged with perjury and it is not known why Taylor maintains this position.
Malcolm continues his statement saying he became the Provo Branch chairman of the PDM in 2003 and PDM national chairman in 2004 serving until the June 2008 convention. During this period, the Taylor-led opposition, despite allegations of corrupt activities within the PNP government, was unable to unseat Michael Misick.
By 2006, the PDM opposition was being led by Floyd Seymour.
Malcolm then refers to a November 2007 trip to London taken by the PDM executive group, which called on the British Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), carrying evidence to support their claim that the Misick-led government was not operating according to well established policies, was breaking the law and engaging in corrupt practices.
In a public announcement, the FAC in late 2007 indicated they had received more information complaining about the PNP led administration than the other 13 overseas territories combined.
In 2007, the FAC undertook its ten-year review of the governance of all 14 British overseas territories.
In fact, the evidence received when the announcement was made in November 2007 was arriving so fast and in such a quantity that the FAC extended the deadline for submitting more evidence until January 31, 2008. Normally the deadline would have been December 2007.
In the Malcolm statement he suggests the PDM group was shunned by the FAC, “We were told to go away.”
Malcolm goes on to say the FAC wanted the information formalized and this assignment fell on then leader Floyd Seymour, who as leader would have headed the mission to London.
According to law, the opposition leader Seymour (a CPA and financial planner as well as a real estate agent) headed the Public Accounts Committee, which reviews all the invoicing and payments made by the incumbent (PNP) government. While serving in this capacity, Seymour called 33 meetings, summoning the PNP administrators to bring their records for review. A number of these meetings ended up being canceled due to non-attendance by members of the PNP government. However the majority of the meetings went forward and Seymour was in a position to use the records as evidence of malfeasance in office.
All of the meetings were recorded on audio tape and submitted to the then parliamentary clerk Ruth Blackman for transcription to writing. Blackman, who failed to perform this assignment, is now retired and has been announced to replace Robert Hall as the host of the radio show Expressions. However, the audio tapes remain to document the meetings.
At the June 2008 PDM convention, Seymour presented to approximately 100 delegates a copy of the massive bound report of his findings, which he had sent to the FAC months earlier.
The Malcolm statement then reports that while visiting London in May on other business, he became aware that the evidence had not reached the FAC from Seymour at that late date.
Malcolm claims that further evidence of Seymour alleged failing to submit the formalized evidence was when FAC members Sir John Stanley, accompanied by British MPs Greg Pope and Paul Keetch, visited TCI in March 2008 on the heels of a visit days just earlier by Labour MP and Overseas Territories Minister Meg Munn and then Director of Overseas Territories Leigh Turner. However, the way events played out it appears the opposite is true.
At that earlier meeting Munn met with then governor Richard Tauwhare and premier Michael Misick. The Munn report coming out of the meeting was “no findings of serious corruption.” This appears to have been one reason behind the FAC official visit, which happened shortly thereafter. In fact, after a very brief visit and before leaving TCI, Stanley told the media that his information varied widely from Munn’s report.
It has always been assumed that it was the evidence sent to the FAC months earlier, joined with the Seymour evidence, would have brought both the visit and the results of the Stanley visit. Numerous people, including Seymour, had reported that when they attempted to send evidence to Munn she shunned the submissions with the message to direct the information to then Governor Tauwhare.
Within days of returning to London, during a public hearing the FAC had the FCO on the spot for the FCO failure to recognize what was going on in the TCI. Shortly after this hearing in April 2008, Munn was replaced as overseas territories minister and Turner was reassigned to the Ukraine.
Shortly after the PDM convention that confirmed Seymour’s leadership, Governor Tauwhare stunned the TCI with an announcement that he himself had called for a Commission of Inquiry shortly after his arrival in 2006. However, Tauwhare himself allowed the Misick government to lease him an upscale condo in Provo for the balance of his tenure (until July 1, 2008). Tauwhare asked the FCO to have his tenure extended but was refused.
According to local sources, this portion of the Malcolm statement appears to be a fabrication. In fact, in May and June 2008, when Malcolm was planning to attempt a move from national chairman to leader of the PDM, he visited several convention delegates, telling an entirely different story.
At that time, he reportedly told the delegates that the singular purpose of his May 2008 trip was to deliver copies of the evidence collected and compiled (apparently by Seymour). Malcolm told the delegates in face to face meetings that he received a “message from God to travel to London for this purpose.”
The Malcolm story was delivered during a campaign around the islands by Malcolm, accompanied by attorney Finbar Grant.
Malcolm and Grant announced they were planning to contest the party’s leadership and deputy leadership at the June 2008 convention which was then only weeks away. The pair nominated each other at the convention but only received three votes each. Seymour was reconfirmed as leader at this convention.
In fact, on page six of his October 2010 witness statement, Malcolm claims that he has never seen a formal copy of the Seymour report. This, of course, cannot be true because the report was brought to the June 2008 convention by Seymour and presented for review by the approximately 100 people in attendance, including Malcolm himself.
Malcolm’s statement claims that he was nominated to return to the post of national chairman but he refused the nomination. He fails to mention the nomination came from his associate Finbar Grant.
Malcolm left that convention after being soundly defeated for party leader and says in his statement he never returned to party functions.
Malcolm then takes up the issue of a 2007 election candidacy, which he claims was changed. Cheryl Astwood Tull had been selected as a PDM candidate for the February 2007 election. According to Malcolm’s statement, as national chairman, he was asked to offer a bribe to Tull to step down so he could run. Other sources in the PDM confirm that Tull did indeed step down from her candidacy because now treasurer of the PDM Dwayne Taylor had the desire to run in Tull’s assigned district, Provo’s Cheshire Hall.
The payment to Tull is said to have been compensation for campaign paraphernalia, tee shirts, banners, advertisements and the like, for which Tull presented invoices. Dwayne Taylor did run in Cheshire Hall and lost the seat for PDM. Dwayne Taylor’s former seat in West Road (Grand Turk) was also lost to the PDM, being captured by Samuel Been, former husband of Lillian Boyce. Only Seymour and Arthur Robinson won seats in the 2007 Michael Misick landslide victory
Malcolm, then PDM national chairman, claims in his statement that he did not know where the money came from to satisfy Tull’s claims. He then states he was told by Arthur Robinson the contribution in the 2007 election coming from Jack Civre was only $20,000. Malcolm contends he was told by another it was $100,000. A recent review of the PDM accounts by then treasurer Sharlene Gardiner reveals that the donation was in actuality $25,000 not $100,000.
Further, Shaun Malcolm claims that Tull and himself were both slated by the PDM executive to be the party’s appointed member of parliament after the PDM lost the 2007 election in the PNP landslide victory. Malcolm bemoans the fact that Douglas Parnell, then president of the Provo Chamber of Commerce, eventually received the appointment. Such appointments are controlled by the party
According to the delegate from North Caicos that actually nominated Parnell as the PDM’s appointed member, Parnell was known to be a lifetime supporter of the PDM, and he hailed from North Caicos, which would provide some balance, as the other elected PDM members of parliament held seats in Grand Turk.
The Malcolm statement then turns back to the PNP, where he complains that, after being awarded Crown land in the Chalk Sound area, his lease was not upheld and it was given to a PNP supporter.