Let's bear in mind that, with those individuals on trial, the Crown's case comprises mere accusations. And as in all other criminal trials, there is and has to be the presumption of innocence, until proven guilty. Justice – the proper administration of the law, with fair and equitable treatment under the law – is wished for the defendants all.
By now, it is obvious to all that all the alleged misdeeds laid out by the Crown in the ongoing corruption trial, go beyond the premier, his ministers and some family and cronies. Complicit also was the Progressive National Party (PNP). If the "government" – and I use that term reluctantly – was in actuality a mafia; then the PNP was its operations centre and banker; and perhaps what could be best described as a corrupt organization.
Should the mentioned incidences of money laundering through the PNP's bank accounts turn out to be true, could the PNP be de-registered, and in effect banned as a political party? One is left to wonder.
The premier was the party leader, and the deputy premier its treasurer. Certainly all the ministers, if not all the party officials were aware of what was going on within their party. In particular, that millions of allegedly corruptly gained dollars were being laundered and distributed through their party. The party allegedly routinely facilitated, in part, the alleged criminal activity related to development projects. It is being accused that bribery proceeds passed directly through the PNP's bank accounts.
We have seen how Salt Cay was allegedly taken advantage of by the premier, his ministers and their political party, the PNP. What they chose to describe as a "remote island hungry for development", where the developer in question should get whatever he wants, turned out to be one big old ATM, of unbelievable proportions, for them. They were able to milk many millions of dollars from that "remote" little Turks and Caicos island, it is alleged.
But, did our largest island of Middle Caicos fare any better? Or did that island too become another PNP victim? Let us take a look at what Special Prosecutor Helen Garlick and SIPT were able to find out for us. To see what our "government" were hoping to hide from us for eternity. Perhaps with the help of early independence, and a Mugabe-like lifetime premiership.
The Crown starts out by stating that: "Juniper Hole, at a glance, begins with 3 developers competing for the rights to develop. On the face of it, they did not contain any Belonger participation. The winner was able to buy the land at a discount because Belongers – some with knowledge and some without – were put up as participants in the purchase. The result was that the land was discounted by 50%. In fact, the land was bought by a foreign investor. Those Belongers were paid small sums of money, or none at all. The principle beneficiary of the activities in Juniper Hole is Michael Misick."
The three groups bidding to develop Juniper Point were:
1. The Island Group, a group of investors based in New York, USA, and led by George Ennenga, a developer,
2. The Delaney Brothers, an investment group based in Connecticut. Both brothers were high net worth individuals. They were represented by Melbourne Wilson at McLean’s solicitors, and
3. The Arch Properties Group (‘Arch’), initially known as Turtle Head Beach Group, a corporate group based in Miami that included the Sieger-Suarez Architectural Partnership (‘Sieger Suarez’), a firm of architects founded in 1974 by Charles Sieger and joined in 1987 by Jose Suarez.
Prosecutor Mitchell and the Crown posit in their opening statement that eventually it will be apparent that the “winner” of the decision to develop Juniper Point – a significant and very valuable potential development – was not well established or experienced enough to undertake a development of that kind.
Their proposals were as follows:
Proposal Number One: The Island Group goes down:
The Island Group, headed by a Mr George Ennenga, expressed an interest in developing Juniper Hole in the summer of 2004, and on 16 September 2004 made contact with Kingsley Been of TCInvest. Ennenga and Been thereafter discussed the project by telephone on several occasions.
In January 2005, Ennenga met with Premier Michael Misick in New York, where Misick was staying in what was described as a "super-suite" at the Mandarin Hotel. Kingsley Been then attached to the Tourist Board's office in New York, was among those present. It was Ennenga's opinion that he and Misick engaged in positive discussions of a possible development at Juniper Hole.
In March 2005, Michael Misick and Ennenga met again at the Peninsula Hotel. A further positive discussion took place.
On 3 May 2005, as a consequence of these two meetings, Ennenga sent a letter to Kingsley Been, Clyde Robinson [CR] and the late Conrad Higgs about a planning proposal, supplying information about the same.
On 3 June 2005, during a telephone call, Ennenga told Higgs that he intended to develop an area of approximately 550 acres.
On 16 November 2005, Mr Ennenga wrote to Michael Misick. In the letter he set out how he had obtained finance commitment and support from a hotel chain. He was seeking a development agreement in principle.
On 21 December 2005, Ennenga sent an email to Jeffrey Hall, Michael Misick and others. Ennenga had previously written on 17 October and received a short response from Jeffrey Hall.
On 21 December 2005, Clayton Been forwarded an email from Ennenga to Michael Misick. Ennenga was suggesting that he should have received a letter from the government. Been replied informing him that all that could be found was a letter relating to August 2005 seeking due diligence, to which there had been a reply. Ennenga responded in turn stating that he had a great proposal and that the plans were among the best ever submitted to the TCI [government].
On 15 May 2006, Ennenga supplied Higgs with a letter of intent from Credit Suisse Securities [a major international Swiss financial institution] in respect of the development’s finance. (?) asked TC Invest to draft a letter to Ennenga informing him his bid was unsuccessful and that the development would be awarded to a rival.
On 11 June 2006, Ennenga complained to Governor Tauwhare. This complaint was investigated and not upheld.
RIP Proposal Number One. Want to venture a guess why?
Proposal Number Two: The Delaney Brothers, an investment group based in Connecticut. Both brothers were high net worth individuals. They were represented by Melbourne Wilson at McLean’s solicitors.
In January 2006, the Delaney Brothers made a detailed proposal to develop Juniper Hole to TCInvest. The development was to involve three separate resorts over 850 acres, from Juniper Hole Hill and Bottle Creek to the island’s airport. This would involve an investment of $420 million over ten years and provide 150 villas and 400-500 hotel rooms.
On 9 March 2006, they were invited to make a presentation to the government. They attended at the attorney’s firm McCleans. Present at the meeting were Jeffrey Hall, Lillian Boyce, McAllister Hanchell and others. After about 15 minutes the meeting was interrupted when JH received a call. As a result of the call the meeting was brought to an abrupt end. Mr Clayton Been, one of the civil servants from TCInvest, had attended the meeting and reports that he felt personally embarrassed.
On 10 April 2006, Floyd Hall wrote to Melbourne Wilson at McCleans thanking him for his client’s interest and informing him that they had not been successful.
Voila! Another one bites the dust.
Proposal Number Three: The Arch Properties Group (‘Arch’), initially known as Turtle Head Beach Group, a corporate group based in Miami that included the Sieger-Suarez Architectural Partnership (‘Sieger Suarez’), a firm of architects founded in 1974 by Charles Sieger and joined in 1987 by Jose Suarez.
Sieger Suarez – The Arch Properties Group – employed Caleb Taylor, a Turks and Caicos Islands Belonger, and Lenny Gardiner. Taylor believed that Sieger and Suarez should build and develop in the TCI, and had been discussing this with Suarez for some time.
The development at Juniper Hole was discussed in Cabinet on 5 July 2006; and Michael Misick introduced ExCo paper 06/379. Following the paper, it was agreed that: Approval be granted for the Juniper Hold [sic] Development Ltd project and for it to be declared a development enterprise under the Encouragement of Development Ordinance CAP 20.01.
The Crown concluded by saying: That is all we can say about Juniper Hole. There are curiosities around the land, and curiosities around Belongers being named when they didn’t know it. There is the price that the land was bought for, which ends up being a windfall for the bank – they loaned $12.5million and then eventually repossessed the land. What is clear is that TCM received $500,000 from the bank, and we can identify payments going out for the benefit of Michael Misick.
It is worth mention that Edwin Dickenson refused his $25,000 "share" of funny money arising from the Juniper Hole Development Ltd project, where he was unknowingly made a shareholder. According to the supposition of the Crown, the unclaimed $25,000 was eventually equally split between Clayton Green and Thomas C. Misick. Hats off to Mr Dickenson, a son of Salt Cay.
On February 28, 2008, British Caribbean Bank made a loan of $12.5 million to the developers, JHDL; out of that money, $7.5 million went to the government for the land the developer wanted – earlier valued at $24 million by Mr Hoza. The Belonger guarantors – unknowingly – were Warren Madden, Edwin Dickenson, John Grey and Bryan Cyrus. When the bank repossessed the $24 million land for a $12.5 million debt, it actually did quite well. But a huge loss to the people of Middle Caicos, and to the country. (We got our Salt Cay land back.)
It is the Crown's conclusion that "The principle beneficiary of the activities in Juniper Hole is Michael Misick”. And just why did one of the two qualified bidders not get the approval to develop Juniper Point? One must only wonder.