Trouble in the Turks & Caicos

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Fresh after last week's condemnation of financial regulation in the Turks & Caicos comes more new from a place that would like to suggest it's the next best thing to paradise. The First Post reports that:

The Turks and Caicos Islands are seething with allegations of gross corruption, arson, and looted money. A local lawyer was beaten up on a beach after representing underpaid Chinese labourers on strike against Russian resort developers, and the islands' Premier, Dr Michael "Iron Mike" Misick, has been accused of raping a stripper.

The islands, southeast of the Bahamas, are British overseas territories. Their sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II; their Governor a Woking-born Foreign Office man called Richard Tauwhare. He is above the Premier in the islands' political hierarchy.

But as the web site notes:

Some of the money {arriving in the Tusk & Caicos] is coming from the gangster capitalists of the old Soviet Union and its satellites. Locals allege that investors deal directly with Misick, circumventing planning rules, taxes and all else, while making large contributions to ministers' personal accounts.

And as it notes the result is that the:

[House of] Commons is expected to announce a Commission of Inquiry into these goings-on by the end of July. The suspicion is that Governor Tauwhare, who has been roundly criticised by the locals and is soon to leave his sun-blessed posting, has not been doing his job with sufficient vigour. According to opposition political consultant Richard Hall, only a British commission would have the authority to conduct the forensic examination of bank accounts, sales of Crown Lands and business transactions. He says there's a general feeling that "Misick and his cabinet ministers are ruling over us like African kleptomaniacs".

Whether or not Misick is ever put on trial or found guilty, his time as Premier has shown how loose Britain's control of this colony is. Its attempts to promote tourism and devolve responsibility have come at the expense of good governance, and the islanders resent it.

All of which adds up to another disaster for British foreign policy, British tax haven policy and even surer indication that many tax havens will cease to operate sometime soon because local people no longer want them and the UK will not longer be able to suffer the embarrassment of running them.

It's time for the UK to face this fact, now, and deal with it.

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