The SIPT case was one of the biggest wastes of time and money in TCI.
Part 1 of the Special Investigation Prosecution Team (SIPT) case concluded on September 25th, 2023. Personally, I am relieved it is over for the mere fact of the amount of time involved and the amount of money that the taxpayers have paid so far in this case. Based on my calculations, we have spent more than $100million on this case. This does not include the capital expenditure we spent on transforming the former Myrtle Rigby Clinic into a court room just for this case.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, if any of the defendants have done anything wrong, they should face the justice system but at the same time, the amount of money we have spent on this case should be considered as to how long should we have continued with this case. Of course, Part 2 of the case with three other defendants has yet to start and so it means more money and more time.
A commissioner of inquiry was conducted from July 2008 to May 2009 after Governor Tauwhare dropped a bombshell of alleged corruption and dishonesty of past parliamentarians.
The Commissioner Hon. Robin Auld, KC, that there was high level of alleged systematic corruption and recommended criminal investigation and as a result SIPT was set up in March 2010. Even though the trial by judge case did not commence December 8th, 2015, payments were still being made to the SIPT team from 2010.
The judge who presided over the cased died in February 2021 and the DPP brought new charges against the defendants.
The Chief Justice divided the case into two parts, part 1 involving Floyd Hall (FH), Jeffrey Hall (JH), Clayton Green (CG) and Melbourne Wilson (MW). Part 2 will involve Michael Misick, McAllister Hanchell and Chal Misick.
Count 1 (FH) – Conspiracy to defraud the Crown in the Water Cay land deal.
Count 2 (FH, JH, MW) – Conspiracy to defraud the Crown in the Northwest Point Land Deal
Count 3 (FH) – Bribery involving Richard Padgett and related and connected entities. This charge basically involved $155,000 which is $105,000 given to Floyd Hall as finders fee and then $50,000 given to Floyd Hall from the $200,000 that was given to the PNP party for donations.
Count 4 (FH) – Conspiracy to defraud the Crown in the West Caicos Land Deal
Count 5 (CG) – Concealing the proceeds of criminal conduct.
All the defendants (JH, MW, and FH) that were charged on counts 1, 2 and 4 were found not guilty. FH was found guilty on count 3 and CG was found guilty on count 5.
The main purpose why this case was done was that the Commissioner of Inquiry and the former Governor believed there was corruption in the distribution and sale of crown land, however, the Prosecution failed to convince the judge and so the judge found them not guilty. Therefore, this case basically boiled down to the guilty charges of bribery and concealment and so we spent over $100million for a bribery and concealment charge of $155k.
A waste of time
Based on the verdict, this part 1 of SIPT case was a waste of time, time that we could have used for something else. Of course, some may argue that it was not a waste of time for justice has been served.
Do you know what we could have accomplished with this time? It is alleged that there is a backlog of cases yet to be heard. We could have used that time to hear many of these backlog cases.
Our constitution and perhaps the best constitution we have had so far was taken away from us because of the alleged corruption. Now that these individuals were found not guilty, will we get our constitution back. The British wasted our time. The Courts wasted our time.
We cannot go back in time but our democratic right to vote for our candidates was taken away from us for three years and run by the Governor. I was a member of the Consultative Forum and I resigned because I realized it was a waste of time.
No investment was taken place during the interim administration whether it was deliberate or not, I don’t know but I know it was a waste of time.
TC Invest was eliminated. It was a loss of opportunity for our locals but thankfully, we have been able to establish Invest TCI.
The distribution of crown land was taken away from our elected members. Will this be restored now that the members have been found not guilty. What a waste of time!
A waste of money
To date, we have spent more than $100m on SIPT and civil and criminal recovery. The only people that benefited were the lawyers. I am convinced this was a business deal like the liquidation of TCI Bank.
Do you know what we could have done with $100m? We could have connected the Caicos Islands with a spine link for $100m.
We could have used that $100m and built new roads and highways that we desperately need.
We could have used that $100m and build a modern College and University.
We could have used that $100m and increase our scholarship funds so that there will be adequate funds for every qualified Turks and Caicos Islander.
We could have increased the funding to Invest TCI with that $100m.
With that $100m, we could have built community and youth centres throughout the TCI. These centres are needed for such a time as this.
We should not have paid for this case. The UK Government should have funded this case. I called on the UK to reimburse TCI with the amount of money we spent on this case. Even the original lead SIPT person, Ms Helen Garlick thought it was wrong for us to have to pay large sums of money for this case.
I am not saying that the defendants should not have a court case, I am saying consideration should have been given about the continuation of the case based on the money that we have spent so far.