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Big Trouble in Little Paradise: the Turks and Caicos Islands takeover

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June 18, 2009

Julian Assange (investigations editor, WikiLeaks)

WikiLeaks has released the full corruption report at the center of UK plans to take control of the Turks & Caicos Islands, a popular Caribbean tourist destination and tax haven.

A British warship on patrol in the Caribbean sea, the HMS Iron Duke, was reported earlier this month to be in a position to support the takeover, come the report's release.[1]

Last year, following corruption allegations made against the Islands' political elite, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) commissioned Sir Robin Auld to head up a Turks & Caicos Islands Commission of Inquiry.

On March this year, after the release of an interim report, the Commission found itself in court with the release of the full findings temporarily injuncted.

As a partial conclusion to that action, yesterday, the Commission released on its website what it called its Redacted Final Report[2]. According to the Commission's accompanying press release, the—

Governor's redaction results from the direction of the Hon Chief Justice Gordon Ward in the current litigation between Mario Hoffmann and Cem Kinay against the Governor and me (and an assurance given by the Hon Attorney General in proceedings brought by Jak Civre).

Yet only hours later, the 266 page report was removed.

WikiLeaks has obtained the full report—and restored the redacted text.

Included in the redactions are the findings relating to former Premier Michael Misick, former Deputy Premier Floyd Hall and former Minister McAllister Hanchell.

Based on the report there does appear to be genuine grounds for the corruption allegations. Yet it is not clear that the corruption discovered in the Turks & Caicos Islands is of an exceptional character. Many British protectorates have leaders surrounded by corruption allegations. This means that the FCO can pick and choose its interventions at whim, something that corrupt but independent leaders in governances such as Bermuda must be noting with alarm.

Whether the leaders of such former colonies choose to stop looting their countries or, instead, choose to placate the U.K. through increased diplomatic submissiveness remains to be seen.

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