Interview about Joe Grant in Turks and Caicos Islands

  • Dr Kinay, for this interview is the subject Joe Grant Cay in Turks and Caicos Islands. This Cay is one of the less known cays, and its story came up to the attention of the TCIlanders because of bribe allegations in Turks and Caicos. Dr Kinay, What is Joe Grant Cay?

 

Joe Grant’s Cay is a beautiful but remote, uninhabited 712 acres cay located in a remote section of the archipelago between Middle Caicos and Easy Caicos. It is accessible only by sea. The last time I took a boat to visit it, it took me 2 hours from Providenciales to get there. This Cay has no dock, no road, no electricity, no water neither any form of other infrastructure. It is inhabited like East Caicos. The cay is composed mainly of consolidated rock with the ocean frontages consisting of either sand or “iron shore”.   The elevation is low and the shallow water depths at some parts of the island for do not allow visitors to access other areas. These difficulties do not discourage us, as at the end, when properly developed, this Cay is a beauty.

 

We have bought 200 Acres of this island on June 20, 2008 from the Crown through a transfer of title executed by the former Governor., Hon Richard Tauwaree and on November 7, 2008, the former Governor, Hon. Whetherwell has executed a Development Agreement with us for the development of the whole island.

 

  • What is the role of you in this project?

 

When I first came to Turks and Caicos Islands in 2005, I had already my development company O Property Collection in Austria. This company is where I, and my partner Oguz Serim offer our development advice to projects. O Property Collection has, from the first days of this project, ,is acting as “developer” bringing its expertise, in construction, sales, marketing. The center of any development is people. Community is very important. My company’s vision is to create design driven projects. God has already placed a beautiful design for Dellis and Joe Grant, it is now up to us, with respect, to treat these beauties with the best architecture and standards there is.

 

  • What do you want to develop on this island?

 

We want to develop the island with an environmentally friendly Hotel and then Villas in the natural surroundings. We have retained top environmental engineers from Florida, and we already started the process of Environment Impact Assessment. We designed our project with a high class architect from italy, and have signed a brand and management Indent with a very famous brand. The most important consideration though is that this will be a low density and green development.

 

  • When you first heard of Joe Grant Cay? How did you get involved?

 

I first got interested in Joe Grant Cay In December 2006 when I was informed that negotiations with some developers for a proposed project on Joe Grant’s Cay had run into difficulties and I was asked whether I could be interested to take this development further. The Government already had a price for sale on the Cay, US$5 million according to a formal offer that the former Government had placed before the previous developers in November 2006. My initial views for the Cay was that it was a remote location, no infrastructure and it involved Crown Land, and that meant the need of a Belonger Partner. I was not familiar with this process as my first investment Dellis Cay, is a private transaction and does not involve any Crown Land.

 

  • Did you know any of the previous developers?

I understand form the discussions in the past months that there were a number of developers who wanted to take this Cay prior to my involvement in early 2007. I do not know and have never done any business with the gentleman named at the discussions at the Commission of Inquire,. whether in relation to Joe Grant’s Cay or otherwise.

 

  • Who is you local/belonger partner?

 

I was already heavily engaged in our Dellis Cay project, and having regard to the Crown land policy (of which I was then aware), I thought it sensible to have a belonger partner in the development. In that respect, a company called Oceanic Development Ltd owned by Don Gardiner became my partner. I respected Don very much whom I already knew socially. As you may recall he was the President of the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourism Board. I understood that Don was involved in the development prospects of Joe Grant Cay with the previous developers so he was very familiar with it. We have executed a Joint Venture Agreement with Don’s company in January 2007, and became partners in a company called Caicos Platinum Ltd, a company that was the recipient of the first formal offer of US$5 million from the Government back in November 2006.

 

 

  • When did you buy Joe Grant Cay.

 

See, that has never happened. We did not buy Joe Grant Cay. We bought the freehold of the 200 acres of Joe Grant Cay, and the rest (512 acres) is provided to us by a Conditional Purchase Lease through a development Agreement. I am not sure whether you followed it, but this island was first offered at US$5 million to Caicos Platinum Ltd, when that company was owned by previous developers. Then, 200 Acres of it (approximately 30%) was offered to us at $2 million in early June 2008, by the decision of Cabinet, led by His Excellency the Governor Richard Tauwaree. At the specific instance of the Government (and with some reluctance on our part given the risk to which we were thus being exposed in advance of the conclusion of a development agreement), we were asked to close the purchase of the 200 acres hotel parcel on an urgent basis, apparently because of very low cash flow issues at Government level. Having agreed to do so, the Governor again changed its mind, obtained a new valuation by a third party QS and informed us on June 19th, 2008 that the price of the hotel parcel had been increased to $3.2 million. We paid that price for 200 Acres and bought a portion of Joe Grant Cay on June 20th, 2008 on de day of Groundbreaking Ceromonie of Dellis Cay.Governor Tauwaree came in the afternoon to this Ceromonie,was very happy,that Joe Grant deal was finally closed after 1,5 years of negotiations.He congratulated me on the day,the funds of the transaction was in the account of government.

 

 

  • What about the Development Agreement?

 

You know, it took us almost 2 years from the first discussions, but 5 months after our acquisition of the 200 Acre parcel, in November 2008 to get a Development Agreement. I am not sure whether you re know but The Governor executes all major agreements on behalf of the Government. So, our that time new Governor HE Gordon Wetherell, Attorney General Hon.Rhondalee Braithwaite and our CEO, Director, Michel Neutelings have met for the execution of the Development Agreement.

 

  • Dr, Is there anything special in the Agreement?

 

All development agreements in Turks and Caicos Islands, usually have more or less the same provisions. However, we have an additional obligation on our part to pay 15% on the gross amount on the sale of villa lots in the development to the Crown. I am not privy to all development agreements in TCI but I am not personally aware of any other development agreement which contains an obligation of that nature. From the standpoint of the public, it is clear that if my partners and I make a major investment on Joe Grant’s Cay such that the price which a buyer might pay for a villa lot is greatly enhanced, the Government receives a corresponding benefit without any of the business risks undertaken by the developer. Joe Grant Cay was going to be a new source of income for the TCI Government and TCI islanders. This remote and unhabited island was going to be the home for a new hospitality project providing new jobs and opportunities for everyone. I would imagine that most of the ex middle caicos residents would returned to their home from their present endeavors in Providenciales. In summary, this project had a very important social aspect. I have on many occasions discussed these aspects with both Honorable Governors Tauwahare and Whetherel.

 

  • There was a discussions about the valuation? What you have to say on it?

Look, I am a developer, a businessmen. I got interested in this deal as the 712 Acres was available at US$5 million to a number of developers who apparently did not perform. I wanted to buy at this price. At the end, I have negotiated more than 18 months to get 30% of this cay at US$3.2 million. I took a significant risk by paying that price and closing that purchase without having a signed development agreement with TCIG, with no guarantee that we could carry out our development plan or acquire the rest of the Cay.

 

Now coming to the valuations, I understand from the Inquiry that under the leadership of the HE Governor Tauwaree himself, the Cabinet has sought a number of conflicting valuations both from their own valuation department and from a private commercial appraiser on June 2008. They have as the Cabinet, together with HE the Governor, have decided to take the valuation of the commercial appraiser as it reflected the market value.

 

Now, the question is why did they not picked the high value but the low value?

 

My answer is that the valuation of the land is obviously a matter for the Crown and for experts in that field. That is why I I have hired some of the leading experts in this field to assist me. What they say is simple: the Valuation officer has attempted to value this property by direct comparison to couple at Ambergris Cay, and sale listings from marketing brochures (and not actual transactions) at North Caicos Marina and Middle Caicos. I am told that those comparables do not come near being appropriate for the purposes of valuing Joe Grant Cay.

 

At Ambergris Cay, for example, lot sizes of between 0.32 – 1.85 acres each are compared to our project of 700 acres.   In addition, Ambergris Cay forms part of an established luxury brand, and considerable expenditure has been undertaken on the extensive infrastructure. I do not know if you know but Ambergis Cay has all its utilities underground, electricity and water, It is the only island in this country which has an underground sewer system. Everything is self-generated on the island, water making, the treatment of the sewer system. It has even an uncompleted marina that is not completed but obviously a port facility) including the inclusion of the biggest private runway (6,000 feet) in the Caribbean. Overall Ambergis Cay it is a self-sufficient island that has all of the amenities and can function, unlike North and Middle Caicos which has to have power on the sea cable from Providenciales. North Caicos Yacht Club is also a developed property, so no parallels to undeveloped land neither. We also understand that the valuer has used “sales brochure prices” in 2008. The Middle Caicos comparative is based on a sales listing as well, which was withdrawn from the market after 22 months listing period and not sold.

 

Now, that is what experts say. These will all come out soon. Now if you ask me what I personally think. To me, the real valuation is what I paid. I paid US$18 million to Dellis Cay, a 500 acres island, of which 200 Acre is private land. Dellis Cay is only 20 minutes from Leeward Highway, it had PPC Electricity cable in it, for plenty of electricity, and it is next to world renowned Parrot Cay. I think that we have paid for the 200 Acres at Joe Grant Cay reflects the fair market price at its present state and that is “undeveloped” land at a remote location for commercial use. That is what it is.

 

Later on, we have asked both local and international professional valuation firms to conduct a full analysis and report an official valuation of this island. All these reports have confirmed the value that we have paid to Joe Grant Cay’s 200 acres and the lease agreements that we have entered with the TCI Government. In any case, after the World Economical Crisis starting in November 2008 and onwards land values have significantly eroded all around the world and especially the Caribbean.

 

  • But Dr Kinay what is the benefit of this Project to the TCIslanders? What do they get?

 

Look, The government did not simply sell a piece of land, they entered into a development agreement for the development of that land. If I can not develop it on time, and spend the money that the Government wants me to spend on it, than they will get back. It is in the Agreement. It is ours as long as we spend money on it. You know how much? My Development Agreement says I need to spend US$120 million on this cay in a fixed period of time. We estimated that the construction will take 2 years and create at least 150 new local jobs. Once the island is fully operational it will require at least 70 locals to manage it. As I have already mentioned, in addition to the purchase price of the land of the hotel site, we will pay 15% of our Villa sales on the 300 Acre Villa Lots and this goes straight to the Government’s budget. Not to mention, the usual development agreement obligations such as the Annual Scholarship payments, duties, work permit fees, the rents paid under the leases, stamp duty benefits accruing to TCIG arising out of sales in the development and the boost to the tourism economy of TCI.

 

  • Dr Kinay, you lost a court case concerning Joe Grant Cay? What will happen now?

 

I received the Turks and Caicos Islands Court’s judgment concerning Joe Grant Cay. I also received TCIG’s Press Release. The judgement is grossly unfair and Joe Grant Cay development companies are currently appealing it. I could not afford lawyers as Turks and Caicos Islands Courts have frozen all my worldwide assets not allowing me to spend any funds towards my right to defend myself and my companies. Looking at the Judgment, in essence, His Hon. Justice G W Martin has concluded in connection with the political donation of $500,000 made by Dellis Cay’s parent company Turks Development LP (the Court states the donation was from ‘Dr Kinay’) to Michael Misick on 9 January 2007, the Judge found (paragraph 33) “there to be a very strong probability that the money was paid as a bribe in order to ensure that the Defendant companies obtained the benefit of the proposed development” disregarding the facts that the Defendant companies did not even exist at that time, and that the donation was made by Turks Development LP, a company developing Dellis Cay, not related in any way to Joe Grant Cay . His Hon Judge further observed (paragraph 41): “I emphasise that this judgment should not be treated as a conclusive finding that any individual has acted corruptly.  Nobody should be declared corrupt if he has not had the opportunity to defend himself at trial, and that has not happened in this case.’ These statements did not make the Judgment just and fair, the basic principle of law.

 

On the matter of Joe Grant Cay’s valuation, His Hon Justice completely ignored the Government’s valuation report obtained from BCQS, an independent commercial appraiser who valued 200 acres of Joe Grant Cay, at USD 3.2 million for commercial use, exactly the amount of money asked by the Government in June 2008, which the development companies have paid in full. His Hon Judge ruled (Para 36, The Judgement) ‘When instructing BCQS to give an alternative valuation, McAllister Hanchell did not tell them of the proposed development, so that their valuation made no allowance for the intended use of the land.’. The Learned Chief Justice has failed to recognize that BCQS valuation report specifically stated on Page 7 Item 3.5 ‘It is assumed that planning permission is available for the subdivision of the land for residential plots or for a commercial use.’ By ignoring BCQS’s clear statement specifying that Joe Grant Cay valuation report is prepared for “commercial use”, The Hon. Chief Justice presented an unbalanced approach for the benefit of the Plaintiff. The Court’s omission of BCQS’s written representations in their valuation report is not something that I can live with and we will be pursuing the reasons for this material error.

 

First, the Commission of Inquiry’s publication of unredacted Final Report despite the TCI Supreme Court’s Order not to publish the unredacted Final Report cost Dellis Cay its business and caused the funders to pull their finances, now Joe Grant Cay Development companies are striped of their rightfully obtained assets.

 

It is clear to me that there is a set political agenda which is geared to restructure the political landscape at the Turks and Caicos Islands and we are chosen as the main victims. I repeat categorically that I reject all accusations, and state that we are innocent

 

For those who doubt that the Development of Joe Grant Cay is not innocent, I have only one question: Had the alleged privileges, favors or better conditions been present in the acquisition of 200 acres of this island, or in the Development Agreement, why both Hon. Governor Tauwhare, and the present Hon. Governor Whetherell would have executed these on behalf of the Crown? Both Hon Governors are experienced public officials, with history of making land transactions, and executing Development Agreements on behalf of the Crown. Why did they approve these transactions if the preferential treatment was all over the documents that they have signed?

 

All these contracts, and 200 acres land sale were approved by the Attorney General, TCI Invest, Ministers, the Premier, and executed by 2 Hon. Governors. The Government and both Hon. Governors had 2 years to conduct due diligence. Do you really believe that they were all ‘deceived’? and did not know what they were selling? That is the real question the Turks and Caicos Public must ask.

 

I have faith in the law, and I will look for justice until I find it.

 

  • What are your long term goals?

 

I did not come to Turks and Caicos Islands, to do few projects and go back to anywhere. I will stay and work here for many years. When Dellis Cay and Joe Grant Cay will one time open, my children, together with the young generation of Turks and Caicos Islands, will be proud of having these developments, in remote locations and will have fun.TCI er will be proud about it too.

 

STATEMENT OF DR CEM KINAY WITH RESPECT TO THE JOE GRANT SALE.THE TRUTH.

20131219-154901.jpg

Statement of Dr Cem Kinay with respect to the Joe Grant Cay’s Sale

Istanbul, Turkey 18 December 2013

I understand from Turks and Caicos Islands media sources that a 200 acre parcel of Joe Grant Cay has been sold for $4.04m in October 2013 in a transaction that was never made public.

I was sure that one day, the truth about Joe Grant Cay’s true value will come to the light, Today, is my day. For the past 6 years, I have been living stripped of my basic human rights and assets just because the TCI Courts have concluded in connection with a political donation made to Michael Misick on 9 January 2007 “there to be a very strong probability that the money was paid as a bribe in order to ensure that the Defendant companies obtained the benefit of the proposed (Joe Grant Cay) development” disregarding the fact that there was in reality no benefit at all, as we have paid the true and accurate value of this land which was USD 3.2 million for the same 200 acres parcel back in 2008.

More specifically, on the matter of Joe Grant Cay’s valuation, His Hon Justice completely ignored the Government’s valuation report obtained from BCQS, an independent commercial appraiser who valued 200 acres parcel of Joe Grant Cay, at USD 3.2 million for commercial use, exactly the amount of money asked by the Government in June 2008, which my development companies have paid in full.

What is more astonishing was the fact that His Hon Judge ruled (Para 36, The Judgement) ‘When instructing BCQS to give an alternative valuation, McAllister Hanchell did not tell them of the proposed development, so that their valuation made no allowance for the intended use of the land.’. The Learned Chief Justice has failed to recognize that BCQS valuation report specifically stated on Page 7 Item 3.5 ‘It is assumed that planning permission is available for the subdivision of the land for residential plots or for a commercial use.’ By omitting BCQS’s clear statement specifying “commercial use” in its report, The Hon. Chief Justice violated our right to a fair trial, and unfairly favored the Turks and Caicos Islands Government by omitting what the true valuation report states. Instead, the Hon. Chief Justice relied on a series of valuation reports prepared by the Turks and Caicos Island’s own employee Mr. Hoza, which are at best confused. Mr. Hoza’s valuation reports valued the 200 acre parcel at a whopping 45 million for commercial use!

For those who doubt that the Development of Joe Grant Cay is not innocent, I have only one question: We have paid 3.2 million in 2008 for this 200 acre land, and today, 6 years later, the same land has been sold for 4.04 million in an open market transaction ! I ask you what happened to the alleged tens of millions of dollars that the Government and some of our opponents claimed that this land was supposed to be worth?

I have the answer: The alleged valuation of this island was a big lie ! Joe Grant Cay’s 200 acre was never valued more than what we paid for. That was the exact reason why many internationally repute valuation companies as well as all the local valuation companies have valued it at the exact value that we paid for it. That is why both Hon. Governor Tauwhare, and later on Hon. Governor Whetherell have approved and executed the sale of this 200 Acre land to us for USD 3.2 million, and that was why the sale was approved by the Attorney General, TCI Invest, Ministers, and the Premier.

In fact, there was no “favor” from anyone for Joe Grant Cay. In fact, we have paid the true value of this land, and the shameless dark forces took away from us alleging the “undervalue” sale. The evidence is before you, the same land is now sold for USD 4.04 million after 6 years.

In the past five years, I have been victimized by politics. My assets were frozen and hundreds of people lost their jobs. I could have developed Joe Grant Cay and create much needed jobs, and further tourism income for Turks and Caicos Islands. I was denied my fundamental right to a fair trial in TCI, a red notice application has been filed with the Interpol for my arrest. I am calling upon the TCI Government and the Attorney General to end these groundless accusations against me, return my assets, and clear my name as I have done nothing wrong.

God Bless

Joe Grant Cay Land Sells For $4m

20131217-004409.jpg

Joe Grant Cay Land Sells For $4m

Joe Grant Cay is home to 18th century ruins, a protected harbour and some of the country’s finest vistas
A LARGE plot of Crown land on the remote island of Joe Grant Cay was sold for $4.04m in October in a transaction that was never made public, the Weekly News can reveal.

This week Sotheby’s, the real estate company dealing with the sale, told the newspaper that a commercial developer purchased the 200 acre plot – once valued at $50 million – months ago.

TCI mortgage providers Temple Financial Group pushed through the sale of the land in order to recoup millions of dollars in outstanding Government debts.

The debt was originally created five years ago when the company awarded a $2.4 million mortgage to a prominent developer to purchase the sizable plot on the cay.

But he was later accused of corruption and following a lengthy civil recovery case the Government took back possession of the land – along with responsibility for the mortgage and the growing interest.

Temple gave the Government an opportunity to sell the land themselves to repay the debt and it was advertised on the Sotheby’s website for sale at $6.9 million.

But after a year and a half without a bite the company obtained ‘power of sale’ and finally offloaded the land for $2.8 million below its advertised price.

Power of sale gives the creditor the authority, upon default in the payment of a debt, to advertise and sell the property at public auction, without resorting to a court for authorisation.

Following a request for information, Sotheby’s broker Joe Zahm sent the Weekly News an email that explained: “Lot 25 ONLY sold for $4,040,000 in October. The rest of the island remains in TCIG control.”

The cash will pay off the Government’s debt with Temple Financial Group and any remaining will be put into the Government’s coffers.

However it is currently uncertain how much interest the mortgage accrued and if there is likely to be any money left over from the payment.

Minister of Finance Washington Misick told the Weekly News on Thursday (December 12) that he had not been briefed on the sale.

He explained that just months ago Temple Mortgage would have obtained “power of sale”.

But Misick added that he was unaware of any further details including whether the $4.04 million was more or less than the amount owed to Temple.

Meanwhile when asked why the transaction was not made public Premier Rufus Ewing on Thursday told the newspaper that the sale had “nothing to do with” the Government.

“A great portion of Joe Grant Cay is still owned by Government but the part sold is not a part of the Crown land there,” he said.

The development of remote Joe Grant Cay, located just east of Middle Caicos, was announced in mid-2008, shortly before the worldwide recession tightened its grip on the Islands.

Home to 18th century ruins, a protected harbour and some of the country’s finest vistas, the 710-acre cay was tipped to provide abundant job opportunities for local residents.

However Turkish-born developer Cem Kinay, who also headed the massive development at Dellis Cay, attracted a wealth of scrutiny during the 2008 Commission of Inquiry.

It was claimed that he purchased Joe Grant Cay for $7.7 million after it was valued at $178 million in June 2008.

This followed the payment of a $500,000 political donation to the PNP just a year earlier.

On June 24, 2010, the development agreement between the Kinay’s Star Platinum firms and the Government was terminated.

And that July civil recovery lawyers fought to have land on the tiny cay returned to the Crown along with damages and costs.

After initially filing a full defence, the Star Platinum companies then defaulted on court orders.

They were asked to provide further and better particulars of their defence, but did not do so in time, and the defence was struck out.

As a result, the Government opted for trial by evidence or admissions which took place in June 2011 at Providenciales Supreme Court.

Following lengthy civil recovery proceedings the recently resigned Attorney General Huw Shepheard released his judgement in TCI’s first major civil recovery case.

He said that there was “no satisfactory explanation” for a $500,000 political donation made by Dr Kinay to former Premier Michael Misick on January 9, 2007.

The judge added that there was “a very strong probability that the money was paid as a bribe in order to ensure that the defendant companies obtained the benefit of the proposed development”.

However, because the defendant did not show up to court to offer his evidence, Shepheard stressed that “nobody should be declared corrupt”.

Dr Kinay – bestowed with Belonger status by Misick’s former Government – has always denied allegations of corruption.

He also previously vowed to recoup all losses incurred by his firms as a result of the civil recovery team’s work.

The court ordered the return of the whole of Joe Grant Cay previously bought for $7.7 million to the TCI Government.

However one 200 acre parcel of land, which Kinay bought for just $3.2 million, was subject to a charge in favour of Temple Financial Group.

Star Platinum companies had borrowed $2.4 million from the company’s operating division Temple Mortgage and granted it a charge over the land as security.

TCIG “reluctantly concluded” that it had no choice but to sell the parcel of land in order to pay off what was owed.

In May 2012 Sothebys, instructed to act for the Government, placed parcel 30101/25 on the market for sale.

Earlier this year Temple forced through the sale of the land in order to repay the Government’s outstanding debts.

David Knight, chief executive officer of Temple Financial Group, was unavailable for comment .
Published in TCI Weekly News

20131217-004545.jpg

JOE GRANT SCANDAL IN TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

20131216-232507.jpg

The below article ,published in June 2012 in SUN

By Royal S. Robinson, MBE
The Interim Administration continues to try to have its cake and eat it as well as to operate in a very non-transparent way. When you take into consideration the premise on which they took over the country from the duly elected local representatives, the actions so far have not been to show you how best to get the job done, but how best to carry on the process by which cronyism is the hallmark of the day and picking winners of your own choosing is the best was in which to do business.
The British Government, FOC, DFID, SIPT and the Civil Recovery team declared that the original sale of land by the TCI government to Platinum was a corrupt transaction and as such should be recovered and redound to the benefit of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Steps were taken through the Court system to have the land returned to the Crown and the court agreed that the land should be returned. No sooner than this exercise was completed (Platinum seem not to take an interest in appealing the court’s decision), there seems to be a concerted effort being made to now ensure that the Turks and Caicos Islands’ people do not benefit effective from the return of that land.
The first part of the deception and deceit started with the decision to sell the land to satisfy a mortgage that had been placed on the property by Temple as a result of Platinum borrowing some $2M and using the property as collateral. My understanding of the legal system is that if a leaf of the fig tree is tainted, then the whole tree is tainted. As it relates to this particular transaction, if it was corrupt for Platinum to obtain the land in the first instance, then any subsequent transaction had to be corrupt also.
So why was there a rush on behalf of the Interim Administration to satisfy Temple Mortgage? There can be one inference to be drawn and that is that someone in the Administration or very close to the Administration had something to be gained by the sale of the land by the government to satisfy the debt to Temple!
According to all previous pronouncements by the Interim Administration, all of the land that had been reacquired as a result of some fraudulent activity would be kept in the land bank for future generations to benefit from. So what is the real rush to dispose of this land at this time? Something smells fishy here.
Now in the proper scheme of things, if the Interim Administration had a real reason to dispose of the land for the benefit of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the first thing it should have done was to specifically say so. Following on from that, it should have issued a Request for Proposals. If as they like to claim they are operating in an open and transparent manner, and they want to get the best value for money, that is what would have happen. But they have decided to pick winners from “their side of the ledger”. What is that called? Is it Insider trading? Or is it nepotism? I thought those were the common faults and flaws identified by Sir Robin Auld as being part of the systemic weakness and corruption in the previous political administration that had to be rooted out. But like Courtney Missick likes to say, corruption has only changed its colour, from black to white!
Now let us look at the local firm that got to market and sell the 200 acres of land on Joe Grant Cay. It is Sotheby’s and its local affiliate is Connolly-Zahm! Is it just coincidental that one of the principals of Connolly-Zahm if Mrs. Josephine Connolly, the wife of Advisory Council member Joseph (Joe) Connolly? As Ernie Clarke likes to say “I have the documents”. I will definitely like to see the documents showing that there is no nexus at all!
The old Finance and Audit Ordinance and Financial Instructions, followed by the now brand new Public Finance Management Ordinance, all speak to a transparent process with respect to the procurement of services by government.
As I have indicated before, there should have been a tendering process set up and the firm with the best proposal selected to carry out the work. The worst case scenario would have been to short-list say six of the local real estate firm that have international connections and ask them to submit proposals, I could live with that. I would have thought that that would have given me some piece of mind that I would have been getting value for money.
What I still cannot fathom is how the governor fixed his mouth to call the initial land transaction of Joe Grant cay corrupt and it had to be returned to the people, but no sooner was that done, he is out there secretly trying to sell that asset. Something untoward must be afoot here. I just cannot for the life of me understand the amount of double standard that is being used by this Interim Administration, save to say that a concerted effort is being made dispose of everything of value that belong to us, in a manner that they feel and say that it is in our best interest so to do.
I have never seen so many thing done in my best interest, that am totally opposed to as is happening with these bumbling idiots at the helm. As time progresses, everyone is seeing that the Emperor has on no clothes and is operating in a clueless manner.
How the Interim Administration hopes to be able to get away with such blatant disregards for the rules that they say they came here specifically to enforce and demonstrate the ethics of doing things in the proper manner?
However, what they have and are demonstrating to us is that what we were doing was child’s play and they are certainly showing us how bad business should operate. That does not give us faith and comfort in these operators. That is why on the streets there is now total skepticism as to the real reason the intervention took place.
We must by now be in a position to determine for ourselves that what is currently being done to us is neither right nor fair! The reset button has now been pushed by the setting of the date for elections. We should all go out and get registered so that we can send a clear and unambiguous message to the Interim Administration that business as usual will not be the order of the day. Joe Grant Cay has not been sold as yet and it is not too late to restart the process on a proper footing.
There cannot be a rush as there is a surplus budget proposed, so the money from the sale is not critical to our financial position except that the Interim Administration is hell bent of getting from under the loan guarantee as quickly as possible and to hell with whatever adverse consequence to the Turks and Caicos Islands people!

published in Sun TCI

British Developer Pleads Guilty in Turks and Caicos Islands Corruption Case

British developer pleads guilty in Turks and Caicos corruption case
Published on June 3, 2013

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — British developer Richard Padgett pleaded guilty in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) on Friday to charges of bribery and conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice by agreeing to present false or forged documents to a Commission of Inquiry.

At a plea and directions hearing on April 15, Mr Justice Harrison agreed that Padgett should be allowed to enter his pleas at the first reasonable opportunity. His case was adjourned to May 31, this being the next most convenient date for the judge to return to the TCI.

Padgett is currently suffering from ill health and in the opinion of his doctor is not fit to travel to the TCI, it was therefore agreed by the court that his pleas be entered from England, by a video link to the Supreme Court.

Padgett and the Crown were represented in both jurisdictions by counsel.

After his pleas of guilty were entered, the case was adjourned to September16 for mention as to the appropriate date of sentence.

Padgett, who has been on bail throughout the proceedings, remains on bail.

The TCI government also announced on Friday that it has settled all civil claims and proceedings against Padgett and his companies. That includes civil claims arising from the Third Turtle Development referred to in the report of the Commission of Inquiry, and a separate civil claim arising in relation to Crown land on East Caicos acquired by a company controlled by Padgett.

Under the settlement, Padgett has transferred to the government land valued at approximately US$7 million, and has made a cash contribution of $75,000 to the costs of investigating the claims.

This takes total land recoveries made by the civil recovery team to 3,058 acres, in addition to $19.6 million in cash paid or to be paid to the government.

Attorney General Huw Shepheard commented: “We are pleased that these disputes have now been settled with the transfer to TCIG of a substantial amount of further land of significant value. This settlement brings to a successful conclusion the civil claims brought in relation to the major developments referred to in the report of the Commission of Inquiry. As reported, other claims and investigations continue to be progressed by the Edwards Wildman civil recovery team.”

20130603-092600.jpg

New Governor for Turks and Caicos Islands:Peter Beckingham

He will succeed Mr Ric Todd, who will be transferring to another Diplomatic Service appointment. Mr Beckingham will take up his appointment during October 2013.

Mr Beckingham is currently Deputy High Commissioner in India, heading the Mumbai –Western Indian offices. His previous appointments overseas include Ambassador to the Philippines (and non-resident Ambassador to Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands), Consul-General and Director-General of Trade and Investment Sydney, and Director British Information Services New York. He was a Director of the Joint FCO/DTI Export Promotion Directorate in London, ran the commercial section of the Embassy in Stockholm, and had a short-term secondment to Cadbury-Schweppes.

On his appointment as Governor of Turks and Caicos Islands, Mr Beckingham has said:

I am honoured and delighted to have been appointed Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands. I look forward to working with the elected government there to strengthen the Islands’ prosperity, and helping to support, with my wife, their rich culture, world-class environment and important relationship with the UK.

Curriculum vitae
Personal details
Full name: Peter Beckingham
Married to: Jill Mary Beckingham
Children: Two daughters

2010 – present Mumbai, Deputy High Commissioner
2005 – 2009 Manila, Ambassador
1999 – 2004 Sydney, Director-General of Trade & Investment, and Consul-General
1996 – 1999 FCO/DTI, Director, Joint Export Promotion Directorate
1992 – 1996 Canberra, Head of Political Section
1988 – 1992 Stockholm, Head of Commercial Section
1986 – 1988 FCO, Head, Horn of Africa Section, East African Department
1984 – 1986 FCO, Energy, Science and Space Department
1984 FCO, News Department (G7 Summit)
1979 – 1983 New York, Director, British Information Services
1974 – 1979 DTI, British Overseas Trade Board
1970 – 1974 Decca Record Company, Argo Division

20130530-103304.jpg

PREMIER SUPPORTS DOLPHINARIUM IN TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

Premier now supports dolphinarium
Published on May 17, 2013

At Wednesday’s House of Assembly meeting, Premier Rufus Ewing was asked about his position on the approval of captured dolphin sites for Providenciales and Grand Turk. Ewing responded that he would support whatever the people decided.

During recent consultations in Grand Turk, which were well attended, the possibility of a “swim with the dolphins” site in a fenced off area of North Creek met with general approval by residents.

However, it was revealed during the House session that there is no existing application for Grand Turk, only for Provo. To this Ewing said that, since it appeared Grand Turk would approve the captured dolphin site, the approval would apply to all islands. This then could put a site in Provo against the wishes of the people and environmentalists who previously rejected the idea.

When asked about dredging of the Leeward Channel, Ewing deflected this to the Planning Department, which has already rejected the dredging. However, just 48 hours earlier, Ewing said in a public statement that he will make sure that all decisions made by civil servants must be approved by government ministers before action is taken.

20130517-132350.jpg

TURKS AND CAICOS GOVERNANCE PRINCIPLES ISSUED

TCI governance principles issued
Published on May 9, 2013

In accordance with the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution Order 2011 section 28 the Secretary of State has issued a Statement of Governance Principles. This will be published in the Gazette on Friday 10 May.

The text of the statement is below:

TCI: Statement of Governance Principles – April 2013

In the exercise of their functions, all organs of government in the Turks and Caicos Islands have a duty to give effect to the following principles.

1. All Government action shall be taken in a manner designed to safeguard the fundamental rights and freedoms of every person in the Islands, as set out in the Constitution.

2. The government of the Islands should involve the participation of the people. The Government shall serve and take account of the interests of all the people in the Islands. In particular, where consultation is mandated by law, the Governor is required to be assured that the consultation process undertaken by Government was accessible and meaningful before assenting to any outcome following consultation.

3. All ordinances, regulations, policies and actions must be fair, proportionate, and capable of being implemented impartially. In particular, decision making required by law shall be objective, and the granting of discretionary powers shall be limited to those that are necessary for good government.

4. All decisions of government, whether by Ministers, elected representatives or public officials, shall be lawful, rational, proportionate and procedurally fair.

5. The Government shall maintain and publish a broad and long-term perspective on the sustainable development of the Islands, and shall encourage lawful business and economic activity. The Governor may require the Cabinet to produce a development plan for the islands at regular intervals, not longer than every four years.

6. The Government shall take steps to protect the environment in accordance with the Constitution and shall promote the protection thereof.

7. The implementation of government policy by the TCI public service shall be in accordance with the rule of law and internationally accepted standards. The Government shall respect the integrity and impartiality of the Public Service, shall engage with officials only through appropriate channels, and the Public Service shall be protected from partisan interference.

8. All public appointments shall be based on merit, and all public officials shall be treated fairly. All Government and public service officers shall comply with the Code of Conduct for Persons in Public Life.

9. All government bodies shall, in order to build confidence in their operations and effectiveness, be accountable and transparent to the public.

10. Government processes, institutions and information shall be directly accessible and transparent to those concerned with them as provided by law, and enough information provided to understand and monitor them. The Government shall keep and use information in line with applicable law. Decision-makers shall provide written reasons for decisions and advise applicants of their procedural rights.

11. The Government shall cooperate with and support the effective operation and independence of the institutions protecting good governance established by the Constitution and other oversight, regulatory and investigatory institutions.

12. Subject to the Constitutional provisions permitting the preferential treatment of TC Islanders the Government shall act in good faith and a fair manner that is non-discriminatory, for the benefit of all people in the Islands irrespective of race, national or social origin, political or other opinion, colour, religion, language, creed, association with a national minority, property, sex, sexual orientation, birth or other status. Services shall be made available on an equal basis, free of preference based on family ties, political allegiance, friendship or personal gain.

13. The Government shall at all times respect the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the impartial administration of justice.

14. The Government shall comply with international obligations applicable to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

15. The Government shall administer Crown Land and other Government assets in a lawful, transparent and equitable manner.

16. The Government shall manage public finances according to established principles of value for money, affordability, propriety and regularity, and in the interests of securing the sustained long term prosperity of the people of the Islands. In doing so, the Government shall also observe the principles set out in any framework document on public financial management made in accordance with the Constitution.

17. The Government shall ensure that financial decisions are made within the context of a medium-term plan which aims to achieve and sustain an annual budget surplus. The Government shall take action to mitigate fiscal risks, and ensure that liabilities, including debts, are sustainable and fully taken into account when setting and implementing budgets.

18. The Government shall ensure that a budget is approved which secures the effective operation of Government and which is in accordance with all relevant laws and standards.

20130511-122942.jpg

TREAT TOURISTS LIKE GOLD,SAYS OPPOSITION LEADER IN TURKS AND CAICOS

Treat tourists like gold, says opposition leader
Published on May 10, 2013

“We need to realize what we are doing and look at our visitors as very important, they need to be welcomed and when they encounter a problem we need to treat them like gold,” said opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright Robinson, when she was asked at a recent Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) press conference on how she felt about the treatment of two departing American tourists, who just one day apart were each found with a single unfired bullet in their luggage.

One, an 80-year-old retired neurosurgeon from Florida, was held in jail with a man accused of murder, where he was fed spicy grits and hot dogs.

“I will never look at a hot dog the same,” Horace Norrell told an American reporter interviewing him.

After spending the weekend in jail, because no judge would stay late on a Friday to hear his bail application, the senior citizen was reunited with his wife, who waited on him in the TCI. He was released on $4,000 bail and returned to the US.

Just one day earlier, a 60-year-old Texas woman, accompanied by her husband, was also found to have a single bullet in her luggage. In the woman’s case, the court remained open and granted her $4,000 dollars.

Meanwhile, neither the premier nor the minister for border control has addressed the issue, which is threatening the territory’s tourism industry. Americans are up in arms and are contacting their government about the incident. Many are reportedly cancelling planned visits to the TCI, some through fear that a similar fate could befall them and others in protest over the treatment of the two US visitors.

TCI Governor Ric Todd has said only that the law must be followed.

It is widely accepted locally that the bullets were planted in the visitors’ bags, but the identity of the perpetrators and their motive remains a mystery. There is, however, some speculation that this is yet another attempt to hold the TCI’s fragile tourism industry hostage to promote a political agenda.

The local tourism industry was directly attacked on two previous occasions by members of the ruling Progressive National Party (PNP) when they shut down the Providenciales international airport, once by a public demonstration that closed down access to the airport and the second by a strike of airport firefighters orchestrated by current Premier Rufus Ewing.

Meanwhile, the fragility of the territory’s principal source of revenue is illustrated by continuing media reports and commentary in the US – especially in the Herald Tribune in Sarasota, Horace Norrell’s home town in Florida.

On Wednesday, columnist Tom Lyons warned potential Turks and Caicos visitors to beware: “Your stay could be much longer than planned, with accommodations well below par.”

“Who knows what police were thinking as they hauled a 60-year-old Texas woman to jail for alleged possession of a bullet that she said she knew nothing about, but even the dimmest police administrator surely could have smelled a rat the next day when a second tourist was found to have exactly one bullet in his luggage, too. Sherlock Holmes has not even a distant relative in the Royal Turks and Caicos Island Police, it seems,” he continued.

“It is hard to imagine the degree of incompetence required when a police administrator or prosecutor is unable to deduce these must be false charges based on planted items designed to appear like evidence of what would be an absurd crime,” he said.

In accurately describing Governor Todd as an appointed career British diplomat, Lyons wrote, “There is no mention of him being a total twit, so it seemed reasonable at first to expect him to be as outraged as the average reader who encounters this story. After all, publicity over this visitor-targeted scam could seriously harm tourism, which is the Turks and Caicos only major industry if you don’t count the enabling of drug smuggling and money laundering.”

Lyons said that Todd has responded to an onslaught of public questions mainly by expressing his determination not to get involved.

“I don’t normally do travel advisories, but in my places-to-go ranking, Turks and Caicos just took a spot not far above North Korea,” Lyons concluded.

20130510-103417.jpg

UK CHANCELLOR WELCOMES COMMITMENTS FROM CARIBBEAN TERRITORIES

UK Chancellor welcomes commitments from Caribbean territories to enhance transparency
Published on May 3, 2013

LONDON, England — Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has welcomed news that all those British Overseas Territories with significant financial centres have signed up to the UK government’s strategy on global tax transparency – marking a turning point in the fight against tax evasion and illicit finance.

Following the recent leadership shown by the Cayman Islands, the other Overseas Territories — Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands — have agreed to much greater levels of transparency of accounts held in those jurisdictions.

They have agreed to automatically share information bilaterally with the UK and multilaterally with the G5 — the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Under this agreement, much greater levels of information about bank accounts will be exchanged on a multilateral basis as part of a move to a new global standard.

The agreement will mean that the UK, along with other countries involved in the pilot, will be automatically provided with much greater levels of information about bank accounts held by their taxpayers in these jurisdictions, including names, addresses, dates of birth, account numbers, account balances and details of payments made into those accounts. This also includes information on certain accounts held by entities, such as trusts.

The Isle of Man – the first non-US jurisdiction to agree to greater exchange of information with the UK – has also agreed to join the multilateral initiative. Guernsey too has also expressed a clear interest.

These jurisdictions have, as well as this, committed to taking action to ensure they are at the forefront of transparency on company ownership. The British government is working closely with them ahead of the UK’s presidency of the G8. Earlier this year Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron identified tax transparency as a key priority for the summit.

This represents a step change in the level of international transparency and will make it much harder for people to escape paying taxes by hiding their money overseas.

Osborne has urged others to join this growing initiative.

He said, “This represents a significant step forward in tackling illicit finance and sets the global standard in the fight against tax evasion. I now hope others follow these governments’ lead and enter into similar commitments to this new level of transparency, removing the hiding places for those who seek to evade tax and hide their assets.”

These agreements builds on those the UK reached with Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey to exchange tax information automatically based on the automatic information exchange agreement with the US to implement the US FATCA law to tackle tax evasion. The British government sees this as setting a new standard in international tax transparency.

20130503-090821.jpg