Turks and Caicos cabinet denies funding for corruption trial security; governor intervenes

The costs of the ongoing investigations and prosecution of former TCI premier Michael Misick and a number of other former cabinet ministers on various corruption, fraud and money laundering charges by the special investigation and prosecution team (SIPT) appointed by Britain when direct rule was imposed in 2009 has been a bone of contention between local politicians and London.

However, after routinely claiming that the SIPT was costing the people of the TCI $3 million per month, the current Progressive National Party (PNP government has been forced to admit as a result of the latest argument that Britain is in fact paying half of these costs, even though it has no obligation to do so.

“I have been asked by the Foreign Office to write to the premier, which I have done this week, and to make it clear publicly that the UK government has no legal obligation to cover the costs of the SIPT inquiry, including for security. Rather it is the government of TCI which must be responsible for financing its liabilities from its own revenues – which are, of course, continuing to show a healthy increase in recent years,” Governor Peter Beckingham said in a statement on Tuesday.

“UK ministers do not believe that it is appropriate or necessary for the UK to voluntarily finance the SIPT costs. Both Ministers Shapps and Swayne have given instructions to me that, under Section 3(5) of the TCI Chief Financial Officer Ordinance 2012, I should direct the CFO to make arrangements for the Police Commissioner to receive the additional funds requested. I understand the difficulties in meeting these additional costs, but ensuring the police get the resources they need is an important demonstration of good governance as TCI repairs and enhances its international reputation,” he continued.

Beckingham said he is satisfied that the additional funds are necessary to provide security in TCI and went on to outline the effects on the territory and its economy should an act of terrorism occur linked to the corruption trials.

“Were there to be any criminal activity linked to the trial, the impact on overseas tourism, especially from North America, would be catastrophic for the long term economy of Turks and Caicos, the welfare of its citizens, and the confidence of the business community. I have seen for myself, after working in New York and Mumbai, how the threat of terrorism can deflect tourism especially from the US. Similarly, all the citizens of Bangkok and Thailand will suffer because of the acts of terrorism there this month,” he said.

“It would be a cruel blow for TCI if its recent successes were blemished and damaged in the long term by criminal acts of violence around the time of the forthcoming trial,” Beckingham noted. 

According to local residents, the governor’s comments about violent acts of terrorism are new and alarming, leading to speculation that the police or prosecutors may have some intelligence that violence against persons is intended during the trials. 

Beckingham also addressed the issue of delays in the trials, which the defendants have claimed is prejudicial, even though such delays are of their own making.

“Although I recognise that this is an unwelcome, additional cost to a process which has already been expensive and drawn out, the delays were caused as a result of repeated defence applications which have now been judged by the court to be vexatious. I understand that the prosecution was ready to begin the case over 18 months ago,” Beckingham explained.

Leave a Reply

error: Content is protected !!