More cash recovered in TCI corruption case

| 27/11/2013

(CNS): The team investigating corruption and questionable land deals in the Turks and Caicos Islands have recovered $1.35 million plus interest from Richardson Arthur, a local pilot who was accused of "flipping" crown land. Two civil recovery related court rulings this week handed down by Justice Margaret Ramsey Hale, a supreme court judge there and former chief magistrate in Cayman, were described by acting TCI Attorney General Rhondalee Braithwaite as  “substantial judgments for the civil recovery team”. Arthur reportedly bought a piece of crown land for just $50,000 from government and sold it immediately for a whopping $1.35 million for development.

"We welcome the judge’s finding that McAllister Hanchell, then minister of natural resources, breached his fiduciary duties as minister by directing the use of an out of date valuation in connection with the sale; and that he also exceeded his delegated authority to transfer crown land and abused his position in order to convey the freehold title to Mr Arthur,” Braithwaite stated, referring to justice Ramsey-Hale’s ruling. "We also welcome the finding that Mr Arthur knew that the transfer to him on the beneficial terms that Mr Hanchell directed was wrong.”

Braithwaite said the claim was an important milestone in the civil recovery programme. 

“It demonstrates that a serious abuse occurred in the management of crown land, the Turks and Caicos Islands’ prime asset,” she added. "We are very pleased that this abuse has been dealt with by the courts.  It also adds significantly to the judgments obtained by the Civil Recovery team.”

Since April of this year nearly $4m has been recovered through the courts as well as some 600 acres of land in the corruption scandal first exposed by the Sir Robin Auld enquiry, which has drawn in businessmen, developers and local politicians, including the former leader of the overseas territory, Michael Misick.

"The Civil Recovery team has now obtained cash and judgment orders or agreements to pay totalling over $23.3m, and has recovered nearly 3,100 acres of land, which has been or is being re-registered as crown land,” the AG added.

However, not everything has gone the way of the special investigation team leading the corruption investigations. The team is now reviewing a judgment in connection to a claim against former minister Clyde Robinson and his former wife, Susannah Bishop, in which the authorities have failed in their claim that the couple also flipped land. Clyde Robinson reportedly acquired the piece of crown land adjacent to that acquired by Arthur for $70,000, then transferred it to his wife, who sold it for $1.5m to the same developer as Arthur. 

Welcoming Ramsey-Hale's finding that government minister McAllister Hanchell breached his fiduciary duties by directing the use of an out of date valuation, the AG raised concerns about other findings.

“It is, however surprising that the Judge found that Mr Robinson’s conduct was not unconscionable, nor was it a breach of his own fiduciary duties as a senior government official. We are troubled by those findings and we will be considering the judgment carefully and whether we should appeal,” the TCI government’s lawyer said.

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  1. Anonymous says:

     Cayman fliped crown lsnd too. double standard here?!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is something that definitely needs to be looked at here. XXXX  Also, wasn't it indicated a few years ago that the govenment records were insufficient to provide and inventory of government assets including land.   Sounds like a perfect situation for misuse of government funds/assets.

  3. A NON I MUS says:

    Please Judge Ramsey come back home we need you!

  4. Anonymously says:

    Cayman did not do anything like they did in TCI so no one is afraid.  The West Bay beach land was fair and equitable and so was Dragon Bay.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Must be a few politicians here shaking in their boots now…justice soon come .