Governor to take charge of TCI

(BBC) – The British Govern-ment looks set to suspend the constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands after a damning report into allegations of corruption.

The House of Commons has been told that an investigation into the administration of the Turks and Caicos Islands found a “high probability of systemic corruption or serious dishonesty”.

Minister responsible for overseas territories Gillian Merron told MPs in a written statement: “The government has formed the view that parts of the constitution will need to be suspended and has decided to take steps to enable it to do so.”

Under London’s proposals the islands’ House of Assembly, Cabinet and ministerial powers would be suspended, with functions transferring to the territory’s Governor.

Former TCI Governor Richard Tauwhare created the investigative panel in July last year after a British parliamentary report found complaints of rampant corruption on the islands.

Government ministers, who have all denied any wrongdoing, are alleged to have sold off Crown land to property developers for their own personal gain.

The interim report, by sole commissioner Sir Robin Auld, a retired British judge, was published yesterday.

It said there are “clear signs of political amorality and immaturity and of a general administrative incompetence” in the TCI.

A draft order will be submitted to Her Majesty in Council, a group of advisers to the Queen, at a meeting tomorrow and then put to parliament.

If it goes ahead, which seems highly likely, it will remove the government and House of Assembly of the Turks and Caicos and put power in the hands of the Governor.

Merron said: “This would be an act of constitutional significance in order to restore the principles of good governance.”

Public hearings by Sir Robin concluded 11 February in the eight-island British dependency.

The finances and actions of outgoing Premier, Michael Misick, were closely scrutinised by the commission.

During the hearings, Misick’s estranged wife, actress LisaRaye McCoy, testified that she used a government-leased jet to vacation in Africa, visit her daughter in Switzerland and commute from Los Angeles.

The couple also leased a Rolls-Royce and spent more than $1 million on the interior design of their home.

The premier had said he would step down at the end of the month after fellow MPs said they no longer had confidence in him.

Misick said last month that his government “may have made mistakes,” but he is confident no laws were broken.

He has denied abusing public funds and complained that his critics were jealous of the economic progress of the islands under his watch.

The 43-year-old London-educated lawyer and realty broker was elected in 2003 to lead the islands after eight years in the opposition.

In 2007, he was sworn in for a second four-year term after leading his party to a sweeping victory, capturing all but two of 15 parliamentary seats.

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