The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

On Tues­day, Jan­uary 26, 2016, An­drew Mitchell Q.C. in con­tin­u­ing his open­ing state­ment in the crim­i­nal trial of for­mer Premier of the Turks & Caicos, Michael Misick and oth­ers, stated that pay­ments were made to Michael Misick by one or more Sandals-re­lated com­pa­nies. It is a fact that those pay­ments were made.

The mat­ter first came to light in the course of in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the US Depart­ment of Jus­tice. This trig­gered a se­ries of in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions by Sandals to de­ter­mine the source of the pay­ment and the re­spon­si­ble par­ties. Tom Scott, a re­tired Fed­eral judge and part­ner in the Florida law firm, Cole, Scott & Kis­sane, was re­tained by Sandals to as­sist with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and a highly rep­utable foren­sic ac­count­ing firm in Wash­ing­ton D.C. was also en­gaged to con­duct an in­depth ac­count­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the af­fair. The re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the foren­sic au­dit re­vealed that some US$1,650,000 had been paid to Pres­ti­gious Prop­er­ties Lim­ited, a real es­tate com­pany in which Michael Misick, Phillip Misick and Wash­ing­ton Misick were the share­hold­ers, and Chalmers Misick & Co., a firm of lawyers in the TCI. All those pay­ments were made with­out the knowl­edge or con­sent of the prin­ci­pals of Sandals.

The unau­tho­rized pay­ments were made by a Se­nior Ex­ec­u­tive and then Trea­surer of Sandals. This cul­mi­nated in the sep­a­ra­tion of the Se­nior Ex­ec­u­tive from the com­pany and was fol­lowed by Sandals fil­ing a law­suit against him in the Ba­hamas to re­cover the unau­tho­rized pay­ments. The dam­age done to the Com­pany by his ac­tions was sub­stan­tial. Not only had he be­trayed the trust which the Chair­man and other Di­rec­tors had re­posed in him but based on the level of his au­thor­ity, the Com­pany was legally bound by his ac­tions and this cul­mi­nated in the Com­pany hav­ing to ab­sorb a fine of US$12M im­posed by the Turks & Caicos au­thor­i­ties.

In con­clud­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion the US Depart­ment of Jus­tice said that Sandals had co­op­er­ated “with the United States au­thor­i­ties to a de­gree that [was] ac­knowl­edged to be both ex­tra­or­di­nary and unique and in­cluded the early and vol­un­tary re­lease of valu­able ev­i­dence that has been shared with the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tion Pros­e­cu­tion Team (“SIPT”).”

Were it not for the Auld en­quiry which fol­lowed Michael Misick’s re­moval from the Premier­ship in the TCI and the DOJ in­ves­ti­ga­tions the il­licit pay­ments might not have come to light.

In­deed, the in­ci­dent trig­gered a Group-wide re­view of the in­ter­nal con­trols with the or­gan­i­sa­tion and dur­ing the course of that ex­er­cise fur­ther in­stances of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties were dis­cov­ered. One such dis­cov­ery cul­mi­nated in the crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion in the Half-Way-Tree Res­i­dent Mag­is­trate’s Court in Ja­maica of Dr. Jef­frey Pyne, for­mer Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Gorstew Lim­ited the Sandals Trea­surer, Pa­trick Lynch and Cather­ine Bar­ber, both for­mer Se­nior Ex­ec­u­tives af­fil­i­ated with the Group, re­gard­ing vi­o­la­tion of the ATL/Sandals Pen­sion Fund, which is still the sub­ject of Court pro­ceed­ings.

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