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 (“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.