Beginning in the first session of the first day of the Commission of Inquiry, Alex Milne - Counsel to the Inquiry – sought to press a forensic case against the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, The Hon. Dr. Michael E. Misick, MP concerning his personal finances. Milne pressed The Premier first on the number of bank accounts he had, the nature of each of them, detailing by question Misick’s relation to particular accounts, co-signatories, and origins of funds, balances and purposes for specific transactions.
Mr. Milne raised the issue of an account at Belize Bank, here in Turks and Caicos. The aim and substance of these questions was to establish a pattern of financial transactions between 2003 and 2008. The critical question on this account came with changes to the Belize Bank account from being registered in the name of Michael Misick (spelled with one ‘s’) as the sole signatory, over a period of 8 months when the names on the $30,000 fixed deposit account changed to Michael Missick (spelled with two ‘S’s) and was joined by a new signatory, one Miss Vanessa Hutchinson.
Misick explained that these transactions occurred before he was Chief Minister – as the Premier was then called – and additionally or alternatively, that he wrote to the bank to correct the account signatories, since Miss Hutchinson was a girlfriend. This occurred well before his marriage. In May 2002, Miss Hutchison was removed.
The next account was with a new signatory Mr. C. Williams – as revealed by Mr. Milne. The Premier explained that that was a loan account to purchase Grace Bay Plaza on Grace Bay Road in Providenciales. He expanded by saying that though, as Mr. Milne pointed out, the account statement was titled “Current Account”, supported by his counsel, Edward Fitzgerald QC, Misick presented documentary evidence on the point, the account was in fact a loan account. However, the matter did not pass serenely. The revelation of The Permier’s ownership of this very prominent property raised a gasp in the crowd. Ms. LisaRaye McCoy, formerly Misick, could be seen scribbling away in the front row on the announcement of these facts.
Milne turned his attention to a bank account at HSBC in Beverley Hills, California, jointly in The Premier and Ms. LisaRaye McCoy’s names. On this score, Milne became quite pointed and the intensity of his questions and tone of voice became more ominous. He demanded to know the meaning of a series of transactions ($125,000; two transfers of $80,000 and three transfers of $50,000 each), all transferred by Mr. Chal Misick – The Premier’s brother and a lawyer – to Ms. LisaRaye McCoy-Misick, as she then was.
Asked to explain these transactions, The Premier answered that the funds were to support his wife’s “lifestyle”. The audience laughed at this. But the next round of questions left them transfixed with anticipation. In almost lasso fashion, Mr. Milne (Counsel to the Inquiry) threw out a relentless series of questions:
“Mr. Premier, can you explain why these funds were paid to your wife”? “Can you tell us why they were paid to a joint account with you as co-signatory”? “The Commission asked you to report and provide records of all income. Can you explain the origins of these funds, since they do not appear to come from any recorded or reported employment”? “Can you say why it is the Mr. Chal Misick is acting in this capacity”?
At this point, The Premier held his hand up, as if to say, give me a chance to answer. He explained that the sums were to take care of his wife. Milne asked, Misick whether his wife had other income through a company named for her daughter. “Yes”, he replied. “As I understand it, she has a promotions contract with The Player’s Club” (a local casino and professional poker and gambling entertainment house), The sum paid to Mrs. LisaRaye McCoy, formerly Misick was said to be $60,000. Having confirmed that income, Mr. Milne demanded to know why a deposit of $250,000 was made to the joint account. “Why”, he asked, “if she is making the sort of money The Player’s Club is paying her, do you need to send her that sum of money for her lifestyle”? Misick’s response was, “we are from the islands, we take care of our families”.
Unfazed by that reply, Mr. Milne unleahed a riot of accusations that led to a ‘cat n’ mouse’ with The Premier. Milne asked The Premier – now half hidden behind a pile of briefing books from the Commission and his lawyers – “what is My Way Productions II Ltd?”. “It’s a company”, The Premier replied. “what can you tell me of this company?” “I have disclosed information about it”, Misick answered. Milne then read out the disclosure: “Company owned jointly by Michael E. Misick and LisaRaye McCoy-Misick. Income to the company: None. Value of the Company: None. Sales: None. Liabilities: None. Profits: None. This company”, Milne intoned, “has the look of a shell company, does it not Mr. Premier”? “No”, Misick replied. “You are a lawyer, a Real Estate man, you sit on the boards of companies, form companies, buy and sell companies and you do not recognize this as a shell company”? “No”, Misick answered. “Then perhaps you can explain these transactions: $200,000 to your HSBC joint account in Beverley Hills with Mrs. McCoy-Misick, transactions of $60,000 then $90,000 from the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board to this joint account through My Way Productions II Ltd., or how My Productions purchased or came to own Hip Hop Global Media in the US, another company or how My Way paid $362,000 for a company called TUC or how it paid over $800,000 for another magazine Hip Hop Weekly or why Caicos Construction and Development Ltd. Paid $100,000 into your wife’s account at My Way”?
The audience seemed to ‘oooooh’ and ‘ahhhh’ at every revelation. At this point Misick seemed unperturbed. He argued that there are no campaign finance laws in the Turks and Caicos and “political contributions in the Caribbean”, he said, “are often mixed with personal funds”. “I have an overdraft in my name for my party for $1.5million dollars. In the Caribbean politicians are expected to spend money on campaigns, and to help their constituents. Sometimes you spend your own money and use contributions to replace it.” Milne asked: “What did Caicos Construction and Development get for its contribution?” “Nothing” said Misick.
There was no reply to the variety of companies related to My Way Productions II, a company linked or associated to an American company of the same name (My Way Productions I Ltd) owned by Mrs. LisaRaye McCoy-Misick, as she then was. Milne ended by asking: What is the difference between a contribution and a bribe? Misick replied: “a bribe is illegal”.