|Published on July 30, 201 in TCI WEEKLY NEWS|
Progressive National Party (PNP) leader Dr Rufus Ewing (L) and Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) leader Oswald Skippings
|Lack of oversight in Turks and Caicos spotlighted at UN|
|Published on July 21, 2012|
By Caribbean News Now contributor
NEW YORK, USA — The United Nations Committee of 24 held hearings late last month dealing with issues affecting dependent territories that are controlled by colonial powers including Britain and the USA, the majority of these being island territories that are isolated from their mother countries.
Representing the situation in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) was Alpha Gibbs. He and an associate, Ben Roberts, also a native TC Islander who lives, as does Gibbs, in the US, had approached the United Nations on behalf of the TCI before.
The Gibbs UN presentation spoke at length about the lack of oversight on the part of previous British governors. This would have included Governor Posten (now deceased) Governor Tauwhare, and possibly Governor Wetherell. These three governors held office during the period when the Progressive National Party (PNP) was in power.
Posten, Tauwhare and Wetherell were all appointed by Britain’s Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) during the British Labour Party’s term of office under prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown
The last Labour government appointed minister with responsibility for Britain’s overseas territories was Chris Bryant but possibly the best known minister of this era was Meg Munn, who visited the TCI in early 2008 and met with then governor Tauwhare and premier Michael Misick. Coming out of that meeting, Munn famously told the media that there was no evidence of serious corruption. This was almost immediately disputed by a mission from the British Foreign Affairs Committee. Munn was soon dismissed and Tauwhare was refused a one year extension of his appointment. He left in late June 2008, just 90 days later.
The Gibbs presentation at the United Nations also chided the British interim administration, which has been running the affairs of the TCI since August 2009 and which has failed adequately to resolve the economic issues remaining in the wake of the period Gibbs says oversight was missing. Since the August 2009 imposition of direct rule by Britain, a balanced budget has not been achieved and the private sector economy of the TCI has contracted significantly. However, tourism has increased and, through many newly imposed taxes and raised fees, the government has increased its income.
The interim administration, while due to hand over the reins of government to an elected government in November of this year, has announced that they will continue to control the finances of the TCI via a British-appointed financial officer. The most recent proclamation on this issue is that finances will not be handed over to local government until a $260 million loan guarantee by Britain has been discharged.
This loan, as well as the new and increased taxes and fees, have assisted in the pay-down of hundreds of millions in debts left by the previous elected government and the continuing deficit budgets of the interim government. The loan was guaranteed by Britain and put in place to avoid a TCI bankruptcy.
n July 2008 The Governor of Turks and Caicos – representing the UK Government – appointed a Commission to conduct an Inquiry into “possible corruption or other dishonesty” in Turks and Caicos Government with Premier Michael Misick and his ministers.
Hearings were held – presided over by His Lordship, Mr. Justice Sir Robin Auld – in January of 2009, concluding in February of the same year.
In August 2009, His Excellency, then the Governor of the Turks and Caicos islands, Gordon Wetherell brought into force an Order in Council suspending portions of the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution. Under this move Ministerial Government, and the House of Assembly – which is the only means of representing the people – was dissolved and all representative seats were vacated, with the promise of elections in 24 months. Amongst the astounding changes was that the basic right in the European Declaration of Human Rights to a Trial by Jury was also suspended, and confirmed recently by law. The sole political power in the Turks and Caicos Islands is now the Governor, appointed by the British government. He has appointed an Advisory Council and a Consultative Forum. However, as the appointment documents make clear, the Governor has no obligation to follow or regard their recommendations. This undemocratic move, which is totally inconsistent with Article I of the United Nation’s Charter on the Right to Self-Determination, is still the case in Turks and Caicos, and still, now nearly 3 years later.
My involvement in the Turks and Caicos dates from early 2005. In June of that year we purchased a private island called Dellis Cay, to develop a USD$1 billion project with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and villas with world famous architects – including Zaha Hadid, David Chipperfield, Kengo Kuma, Shigeru Ban, Piero Lissoni and Carl Ettenspenger. The development proceeded in an unremarkable fashion, with usual succession of planning permits, from the start construction date of June 2008 to October 2009. A mixture of funds from my own resources, sales of residential units and loans from the Trinidad & Tobago Unit Trust Corporation funded the development.
In June of 2008, we bought a second island, Joe Grant Cay, from the Crown (The government of Turks and Caicos), presented the deal structure to the British Governor of Turks and Caicos – who was then His Excellency Richard Tauwhare – with the development agreement signed in November of 2008 by the new Governor, His Excellency Gordon Wetherell, with the objective of developing a resort with Bulgari Hotel and Villas.
In January 2009, in the course of hearings by the Commission of Inquiry, the Premier of Turks and Caicos disclosed political contributions by several businessperson and companies toward his party’s elections, two years before, in 2007. He disclosed a political contribution made by our company as well; which is normal all over the world, including in Britain.
Neither the Inquiry, nor the Judge, nor the Governor made any request of me or my representatives to provide answers about these contributions. Yet, our actions were remarked upon adversely in the Commission’s report.
In June 2009, we asked the High Court of Turks and Caicos Islands to undertake a Judicial Review of the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry, with the result that the Supreme Court called for the removal of any and all adverse references to my or our companies. In his ruling the Chief Justice agreed with us, that there was a “Clear and almost total failure by the Commission to follow its own procedures”. His Lordship stated further that I had not been given a fair hearing, and said that if any adverse statements were included in the Final Report, they should not be published.
It must be understood that even though this court is in Turks and Caicos, it is an English court, applying English law and procedures. Yet, four (4) weeks later, in July of 2009, the Final Report was published, with text unredacted, so that the adverse statements made about me and my companies, which were judged to have been unfair and unlawful, were made public; even after the Chief Justice ruled they should not be published.
Despite my attempts to cooperate and assist the lending bank for our projects to understand the issues relating to the Commission of Inquiry and their unlawful published reports, it was no longer possible to avoid the entrance into Receivership of the Dellis Cay project in favour of the Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation in October 2009.
This failure of the Commission to follow the law has therefore done me harm because I provided personal guarantee to the Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation.
Since that time – January 2010 – the bank has obtained a worldwide freezing order against me. The Attorney General of Turks and Caicos issued a Writ and Statement of Claim regarding Joe Grant Cay in July 2010.
I have appealed both actions.
After three (3) years, in October 2011, I was finally able to explain my side of the allegations of bribery for the political contributions above. In the meantime, my assets in Dellis Cay and the assets of buyers in that development have been destroyed; even though I have never bribed anyone in Turks and Caicos, or anywhere else.
Now after 10 months of this voluntary statement in Istanbul the Prosecution Team (SIPT) obtained an arrest warrant and a Red Notice through Interpol.
I am innocent.I did not received any benefits for any of my political donations.
I have been made a victim of the politics of Turks and Caicos. In English law, the saying is that “justice must not only be done, but it must be…seen to be done”. I speak now to warn that this is not the case in Turks and Caicos and to say that human rights, and property rights, democracy and justice are under threat in Turks and Caicos.
Nelson Mandela is 94 years old.
Hon.Governor Wetherell on the day of signing DA of Joe Grant together with Michel Neutelings,Director of Joe Grant companies and Deputy AG
I have no info,where now Hon.Governor Wetherell is living.He is most possible enjoying the immunity for his doings in Turks and Caicos Islands and most probably ,he is aware which lives he already destroyed through his doings,when he was Governor in Turks and Caicos Islands.
I can only hope,that he is reading this article too
During his years he was only seen,when he was in TCI TV’s.He was never feeling as a part of TCI community .
TCI People will never forget him,because he brought TCI in the most difficult times of the history.
TCI is still after 3 years looking to go back in democracy .
He is responsible for economical disaster in the history of TCI too.
In compare to Hon.Wetherell ,Hon.Governor Todd is pushing back the business in TCI and trying to support every new investor,coming in the country to start with the projects again,which were held during time of Wetherell.
Hon.Governor Wetherell acted unlawful and unfair in the case of Cem Kinay.The courts in Tci already decided this in June 2009.He published unlawful the Commission of Inquiry Report in July 2009 and caused through the allegations the halt of the project.
The same Hon.Wetherell approved and signed the Development Agreement of Joe Grant in November 2008!!
Now I will be accused for possible bribe to Premier Misick for an agreement which has been signed and approved by Hon.Wetherell.
Very strange story.
I invited Hon.Gov.Todd to publish all DA ‘s in TCI in the last 20 years.He can still do it.
I am now publishing the DA of Joe Grant approved and signed by Governor Wetherell in November 2008.
one of the victims of Hon.Gov.Wetherell
Democracy is in danger in Turks and Caicos Islands.
In August 2009 Hon.Governor Whetherell brought into force an Order in Council suspending TCI constitution.House of Assembly was dissolved and all representative seats vacated.
Amongst the astounding changes was that the basic right in the European Declaration of Human Rights to a Trial by JURY was also suspended
The sole political power is now Governors,appointed by UK Government.
I have been made a victim of politics of Turks and Caicos.In English law,the saying is that “justice must not only be done,but it must be seen to be done”.