Turks and Caicos

Ex-premier of Turks and Caicos to stand trial

 

jcharles@MiamiHerald.com

The head investigator in a British government probe of corruption in the Turks and Caicos Islands said Thursday that the tourist-haven’s former premier will stand trial.

Up until now, the Turks and Caicos Special Investigation and Prosecution Team headed by Helen Garlick has said it only wanted former Premier Michael Misick to return for questioning in a criminal investigation of government corruption.

But a statement Thursday by Garlick acknowledged that Misick will have to join 10 others, including four of his cabinet ministers, in defending allegations that they illegally sold government land for a profit and cut other sweetheart deals to enrich themselves during their tenure in office.

British investigators, who are receiving help from the U.S. Department of Justice, have combed through a reported 100,000 pages of evidence uncovering suspicious land deals, unpaid government bills and possible fraud, bribery and money laundering by former leaders.

The Turks and Caicos Islands is a British protectorate located 575 miles southeast of Miami. It is one of two territories where the British are actively probing corruption. The other is the Cayman Islands, where former Premier McKeeva Bush was formally charged last month with corruption.

Misick was first elected as chief minister in 2003 but resigned in 2009 during his second term amid the corruption allegations. He gained international notoriety when he married U.S. actress LisaRaye McCoy in a lavish hilltop ceremony. But McCoy later testified against her estranged husband during a 2008 British government commission of enquiry.

He is currently in Brazil where he was arrested this week after the South American nation rejected his claim for political asylum. Misick is now subject to extradition proceedings by the British.

The corruption probe is going into its fourth year. A law firm hired to recover the land recently reported to the governor that it had recovered about 2,500 acres of land valued at about $100 million.

Garlick said there are currently 10 defendants awaiting trial. The trials could take place as early as September pending further appeals to the Privy Council by defendants.

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