TURKS & CAICOS -- 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 in-depth 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
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.