A former leader of the Turks and Caicos Islands, who is facing trial in the islands’ high court on corruption-related charges along with four of his ex-ministers, is on his way back to the British-dependent territory after losing his bid to stay in Brazil.
Brazil’s courts decided Tuesday to honor the extradition request by the United Kingdom for former Premier Michael Misick, who has been the subject of an ongoing $11-million-a year probe by British investigators with help from the U.S. Department of Justice.
“The decision of the Brazilian courts today to extradite Michael Misick is welcome as it is in the best interests of the TCI that allegations of wrongdoing are thoroughly investigated,” Turks and Caicos Attorney General Huw Shepheard said in a statement. “Michael Misick’s lawyers vigorously opposed his extradition, but after hearing arguments on both sides, the court was unanimous in its decision.”
Misick was first arrested Dec. 7 by Brazilian Federal Police on an international arrest warrant. On Jan. 28, Turks and Caicos prosecutors formally submitted documents requesting his extradition.
Tuesday’s decision comes almost a year after Misick’s former party returned to power in the Turks and Caicos after the British suspended the constitution and fired the government. Retired British Judge Sir Robert Auld, heading the inquiry, concluded there was “a high probability of systematic corruption and/or other serious dishonesty” in the Turks and Caicos. Auld also criticized the high-flying lifestyles of Misick and former government officials.
Last month a judge in the Turks and Caicos high court set a July 7, 2014 trial date for 11 individuals, including four of Misick’s former government ministers. Investigators have combed through tens of thousands of pages of evidence as part of their case against Misick and the others.
Among their findings: suspicious land deals, unpaid government bills and possible fraud, bribery and money laundering. Lawyers also have recovered $20 million in cash and 3,000 acres of ill-gotten land worth $100 million that is owned by the government.
The islands are located 575 miles southeast of Miami and are a popular tourist spot with U.S. celebrities, several of whom own homes there.
Shepheard said that arrangements will be made to return Misick to the Turks and Caicos as soon as possible.