The Turks and Caicos Islands – Historical Perspective – Trouble in paradise – C.B.

the “local lawyer” referenced below is me:-

Trouble in paradise

Charles Laurence lifts the lid on the shady politics of a British- owned sunshine isle in the Caribbean

BY Charles Laurence LAST UPDATED AT 01:00 ON Mon 5 May 2008

There is mischief afoot in one of our Caribbean colonies. The Turks and Caicos Islands are seething with allegations of gross corruption, arson, and looted money. A local lawyer was beaten up on a beach after representing underpaid Chinese labourers on strike against Russian resort developers, and the islands’ Premier, Dr Michael “Iron Mike” Misick, has been accused of raping a stripper.

The islands, southeast of the Bahamas, are British overseas territories. Their sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II; their Governor a Woking-born Foreign Office man called Richard Tauwhare. He is above the Premier in the islands’ political hierarchy.

After a previous premier, Norman Saunders, was arrested in 1986 with a suitcase full of cocaine in a Miami motel, and it emerged that he had built a refuelling station on an island airstrip for planes as a way station for the cocaine trade, Whitehall set about promoting tourism as a more orderly route to economic progress.

Since then the Turks and Caicos have flourished, and tourists have poured billions into the coffers. The island of Providenciales has been turned into a thicket of luxury resorts and condominiums worth millions. The hot business now is in private islands like Parrot Cay where Paul McCartney, Keith Richards and Bruce Willis have villas.

Some of the money is coming from the gangster capitalists of the old Soviet Union and its satellites. Locals allege that investors deal directly with Misick, circumventing planning rules, taxes and all else, while making large contributions to ministers’ personal accounts.

Meanwhile in the UK, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has declared itself “shocked and appalled” by what is going on after a group, led by Margaret Thatcher’s one-time Parliamentary Private Secretary, Conservative MP Sir John Stanley, had been sent to look into how the islands were being governed. Now the Commons is expected to announce a Commission of Inquiry into these goings-on by the end of July. The suspicion is that Governor Tauwhare, who has been roundly criticised by the locals and is soon to leave his sun-blessed posting, has not been doing his job with sufficient vigour.

According to the former opposition political consultant Anthony Hall, only a British commission would have the authority to conduct the forensic examination of bank accounts, sales of Crown Lands and business transactions. He says there’s a general feeling that “Misick and his cabinet ministers are ruling over us like African kleptomaniacs”.

Misick has adopted a bling-bling lifestyle modelled on ‘gangsta’ rappers. His second wife Lisa Raye is a former American soap opera actress who wears diamonds and dresses slashed to the waist. Her photograph was used in Vanity Fair magazine to promote a millionaires’ enclave at Dellis Cay and it was she who invited her ‘friend’ from America to perform as a stripper for a gala opening of the Nikki Beach Resort and Spa. When that friend then reported Misick’s alleged rape to the local police, they did nothing. So she grabbed the sheets for Monica Lewinsky-style evidence, flew back to America and contacted the FBI, which is now investigating.

Whether or not Misick is ever put on trial or found guilty, his time as Premier has shown how loose Britain’s control of this colony is. Its attempts to promote tourism and devolve responsibility have come at the expense of good governance, and the islanders resent it. · 

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