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Jamaican born customs officer dies suddenly

Jamaican born customs officer dies suddenly

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Sep. 13, CMC  – The police have announced plans to probe circumstances that may have led to the sudden death of a  51 year old customs officer earlier this week.

The police report that Lloyd “Silah” Francis, originally from the eastern parish of St. Thomas in Jamaica, was found dead at his home on Monday.

According to the Antigua Observer, officials from the Strategic Communications Office said  they are awaiting the outcome of an autopsy before determining the course of their investigation.

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Kidnapped wife of businessman rescued, no ransom paid

Kidnapped wife of businessman rescued, no ransom paid

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Sept 11, CMC – The 47-year-old wife of a businessman was rescued by police on Monday night four days after she was kidnapped while returning from a gym in southern Trinidad.

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith told a news conference late Monday night that no ransom had been paid for the Natalie Pollonais, a mother of three and the wife of Jason Pollonais, a director of Inland and Offshore Contractors Ltd.

Natalie Pollonais

Three people, including two police officers have been taken into custody as a result of the rescue operation

Natalie Pollonais is with us. She has been extracted, she’s alive and well. This was a clinical operation that took place for the last four days and nights. Mrs Pollonais was brought straight to the Police Admin Building. I spoke to her and she’s in good condition. She is unharmed and no ransom was paid,” Griffith told reporters, flanked by National Security Minister Stuart Young and Attorney general Faris Al Rawi.

“This was kidnapping for ransom. I am not going into the specifics. We were able to pinpoint and target the area. It was immense work,” Griffith said, adding that a number of tactical units were involved in the search and rescue mission, including the Anti-Kidnapping Unit (AKU), Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit (OCIU), Special Branch, Strategic Services Agency (SSA) and the Tactical Unit.

“The whole operation was totally intelligence driven. We worked hand-in-hand. It was a co-ordinated effort (which) we never saw in a while,” said Griffith, adding that “until we apprehend all of the individuals involved in this situation”, the area where the woman was rescued would not be made known.

“This sends a signal to all criminal elements…it is not business as usual,” said Griffith, who was recently appointed to the post four years after Canadian Dwayne Gibbs resigned.

We can never have a crime-free country. What we would do is continue to provide the deterrent, with the assistance of the State, for us to ensure the safety and security of this country,” Griffith said.

Young told reporters that the Keith Rowley government’s position is that “we will continue to support our law enforcement agencies and authorities.

“Today we can breathe a sigh of relief. We just chalk this one up to a lot of hard work and a bit of luck,” Young said.

Posted in CARICOM, International, Local, News, Police, Regional1 Comment

UK Foreign Office Minister for Overseas Territories to visit BVI

UK Foreign Office Minister for Overseas Territories to visit BVI

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jul. 29,   CMC – The United Kingdom (UK) Foreign Office Minister for the Overseas Territories, Lord Tariq Ahmad, of Wimbledon will visit the territory between July 31 and August 1 to discuss hurricane preparedness and view progress on recovery.

Lord Tariq Ahmad

As part of his two-day visit, the government  says that Lord Ahmad and Premier Dr.   Orlando Smith will visit a number of public sites affected by last year’s hurricanes.

During his visit, Lord Ahmad will be updated on the how the UK’s support is helping recovery efforts and will officially hand over the new purpose-built temporary Court House to the Government.

This court house will allow the Supreme Court and Magistrates’ Court to “function fully while a permanent building is constructed,” the statement said.

  Lord Ahmad will also visit the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Mounts Bay, which will remain in the region throughout the hurricane season to provide rapid assistance to islands, if needed.

RFA is a civilian-manned fleet owned by the UK’s Ministry of Defense, whose purpose is to support the Royal Navy to maintain operations around the world.

The BVI Government said Lord Ahmad will meet with the Board of the Recovery and Development Agency “to be updated on their progress and efforts to deliver the six-month accelerated plan ahead of endorsement of the longer term Recovery and Development Plan by the House of Assembly.”

“The UK has played a critical role in assisting the region to recover from last year’s unprecedented and devastating hurricanes, providing aid and support to help British Overseas Territories,” said Lord (Tariq) Ahmad, ahead of the BVI visit. “However, I know there is still more to be done before the islands are fully recovered, and the UK stands ready to help.

“We are already working with partners across the Caribbean to make sure plans are being put in place to prepare for future hurricanes, so we do not see a repeat of last year’s destruction,” he added.

The BVI Government said Lord Ahmad will also “seek to address concerns about the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act when he meets with Premier Smith and the Cabinet.”

In addition, Lord Ahmad will meet with members of the financial services industry, and business and tourism representatives.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Hurricane, International, Local, Police, Regional0 Comments

US Customs officers nab passenger with cocaine on flight from Trinidad and Tobago

US Customs officers nab passenger with cocaine on flight from Trinidad and Tobago

NEW YORK, Jul 27,   CMC –  The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency says officers have arrested a woman who was found with cocaine her luggage when she arrived at the John F. Kennedy airport on a flight from Trinidad and Tobago earlier this week.

According to the CBP, on Monday, officers stopped Diamonaire Smith, a United States citizen and during the baggage inspection officers noticed that the sides of the suitcase felt “unusually thick.”

“The CBP officers, thereafter, probed the suitcase, which revealed a white powdery substance. The white powdery substance field-tested positive for cocaine.”

Smith was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to the US Homeland Security Investigations for investigation. 

The total weight of cocaine seized was about five pounds, with an estimated street value of US$85,000.

Smith now faces US federal narcotics smuggling charges and will be prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office in the US Eastern District Court of New York. 

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Court, Crime, International, Local, News, Police, Travel0 Comments

UN chief appeals to CARICOM states to pay mandatory contributions ‘on time and in full’

UN chief appeals to CARICOM states to pay mandatory contributions ‘on time and in full’

UNITED NATIONS, Jul. 27,  CMC – United Nations Secretary General Secretary-General António Guterres has urged Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and other member states to pay their mandatory contributions “on time and in full,” warning that the global body is “at risk of running out of cash”.

In a letter to UN staff,  Guterres  on Thursday said that he had “written to member states regarding the troubling financial situation facing the United Nations”.

António Guterres – UN Secretary General

The UN chief said it was necessary for the world body to continue delivering on its key mandates.

“Caused primarily by the delayed contributions of Member States to the Regular Budget, this new cash shortfall is unlike those we have experienced previously”, he wrote.

“Our cash flow has never been this low so early in the calendar year, and the broader trend is also concerning:  we are running out of cash sooner and staying in the red longer,” he added.

At the end of June this year, the UN said the amount of money paid by member states for the 2018 assessment stood at around US$1.49 billion. 

At the same time last year, the amount paid to the regular budget was just over US$1.70 billion.

In a table complementing the report, the UN said that, as of Wednesday, 112 member-states have paid their regular budget assessments in full, with only five of the 14-member CARICOM states having done so.

They are –  Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica and St. Lucia.

“I have appealed to member states to pay their assessments on time and in full, and highlighted the risk the current situation poses to the delivery of mandates and to the reputation of our organization,”. Guterres noted.

Speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters here, his spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said  the UN fully understands that some member states operate on different fiscal timetables, “but, unlike in previous years, the cash flow has never been this low, so early in the calendar year.”

He also said the UN does not have much financial flexibility “and relies on member states to pay their dues on time and in full.”

Dujarric said  the UN Secretariat would now be looking into ways of reducing expenses, “with a focus on non-staff costs.”

Posted in CARICOM, International, Local, News, Police0 Comments


More marijuana fields discovered and destroyed

During a visit to the RAF Mounts Bay on Wednesday, July 25 the ship’s captain Peter Selby told the local press that the ship’s helicopter conducted its usual search reconnaissance flight around the volcano and over the mountains and hills of Montserrat that it uncovered new marijuana fields.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Charles

The next day Deputy Commissioner of Police Charles, Acting Commissioner informed that “with the assistance of members from the RAF Mounts Bay the police were able to uproot a field of one thousand one hundred (1,100) marijuana plants yesterday. They also were able to utilise our drone technology…”


Portrait of Captain Peter Selby RFA
Portrait of Captain Selby RFA, Taken aboard the bridge on RFA Mounts Bay

Thompson boasted, “of course its showing we’re utilising equipment that we would have gotten, and we want to say thanks to the Governor’s office, Captain and members of RAF Mounts Bay.”


The DCoP also offered “special thanks to the Minister of Communications and Works and his team who were able to assist us in acquiring the drone,” saying also, “I personally want to say thank you to my staff, the police officers who would have gone out and run the operation.

Over the past several years these fields have been sought out by helicopter from visiting UK RFA navy ships. Just less than a year ago RFA Mounts Bay visited between August 7-10 and carried out a similar find which found its way in the UK newspapers.

Posted in Crime, International, Local, News, Police, Regional1 Comment

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Same Sex Marriage debate: Lord Ahmad rejects imposing on the OTs

UK Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad rejects suggestions of imposing same sex marriages on Overseas Territories like Cayman.
The issue was raised in the House of Lords on Monday (23 July) after a question was posed on the issue. Legislators accused the UK Government of double standards. They said the government imposed beneficial ownership registries on Cayman and other overseas territories yet refuse to do the same for the human rights of the LGBTQ community.Lord Ahmad said the impositon of the registries was “the will of the other place was such that the will of Parliament was upheld by the Government.”

“We would rather not have been in that position. On this issue, we continue to respect the autonomy. However, at the same time, I assure the noble Baroness that we work very progressively. We have seen in recent developments in places such as Bermuda how the courts domestically are reacting to the importance of progressing this issue,” said Lord Ahmad.

Now the UK government made the same vow not to impose public registries, But that changed earlier this year when it came to amending the Sanctions and Anti-Money laundering law. We reached out to the Premier’s Office for comment on this issue. We are yet to hear back.

Posted in International, Legal, Local, News, Police0 Comments

CIP Unit confirms billionaire fugitive mehul Choksi has Antigua passport

CIP Unit confirms billionaire fugitive mehul Choksi has Antigua passport

Mehul Choksi

The Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) has this afternoon confirmed to OBSERVER that, Mehul Choksi, an Indian billionaire businessman wanted for alleged fraud in India, was granted Antiguan and Barbudan citizenship in November 2017.

Several reports surfaced online this week, stating that the wanted man was in Antigua presently prompting this media house to reach out to the CIU.

In its response, the CIU stated that “after extensive vetting, Mehul Choksi was granted citizenship by registration in November 2017.” The statement added that his application was “subject to robust due diligence international investigation” and that “the 2017 investigation revealed no derogatory information.

“The CIU also confirmed that after being granted citizenship in November last year, Choksi swore the Oath of Allegiance in Antigua on January 15, 2018.

One widely circulating article on the Times of India online dated July 24, 2018 and headlined, ‘Mehul Choksi has moved to Antigua, taken local passport’ states that Indian law enforcement have been informed by official sources in Antigua and Barbuda that the wanted man arrived here this month but OBSERVER has not confirmed this.

Interpol is also reportedly involved in the investigation according to several online sources.

Mehul Choksi is a diamond tycoon who is wanted for a US $2.1 billion fraud scandal in India known as the Punjab National Bank Fraud Case.

Choksi is 59-years-old and is the owner of the Gitanjali Group, a retail jewellery company with 4,000 stores in India.

OBSERVER emailed the CIU, the government’s Chief of Staff, Lionel “Max” Hurst, the Office of Strategic Communications (STRATCOM) of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda, and the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) this morning requesting statements in regard to the Choksi development but the only response so far has come from the CIU.

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Prime Minister Mark Brantley

Premier Mark Brantley sets the record straight



Nevis Premier Mark Brantley

Monday, July 16, 2018 — The Premier and Minister of Finance of Nevis, the Honourable Mark Brantley, has expressed deep concern about a misleading and grossly inaccurate article carried in the UK’s Guardian newspaper on 12th July under the byline of one Oliver Bullough which is obviously calculated to damage the reputation of Nevis as a reputable and well regulated International Financial Centre.

Premier Brantley points out that contrary to the false and misleading allegations made by Bullough in The Guardian article, Nevis and indeed the Federation of St Kitts & Nevis, has been consistently reviewed by the leading international regulatory agencies and has recently been graded as Largely Compliant by the OECD. This grading clearly demonstrates the country’s continuing commitment to meeting high standards of regulatory compliance in all its operations.  Both the OECD and the FATF have assessed the jurisdiction’s compliance status as being largely in line with international requirements as to disclosure and maintenance of adequate records that would identify beneficial owners by competent authorities making the appropriate enquiries.  The Island’s Premier and Finance Minister added that

“while the important right to privacy continues to be pejoratively interpreted by certain elements of the Media as being deliberately secretive, the truth is that there are adequate measures for disclosing the identity of beneficial owners of companies registered in Nevis and such information can be disclosed in circumstances where legitimate enquiries are being made by the relevant authorities of jurisdictions that are parties to the several information exchange treaties and agreements to which the Federation of St Kitts & Nevis is a party.”

Disclosure of information is permitted for the purpose of pursuing allegations of wrongdoing by the competent authorities under enabling legislation. Disclosure of information is also entirely permissible through Court proceedings to compel disclosure where a right to disclosure arises. 

The Financial Services Regulatory Commission confirms that under the laws of Nevis there exist “various mechanisms in place for sharing information with treaty, law enforcement and regulatory counterparts and several provisions in our legislation exist to sanction any entity incorporated in Nevis which is proven by local or foreign law enforcement to be involved in criminal or illicit activity”.  Information held on a Nevis entity by the Nevis Regulator or by any licensed service provider in Nevis may not be disseminated to any person not legitimately connected to that entity except in the context of wrongdoing being asserted by competent local or foreign authorities or pursuant to Court order.  “Mr Bullough is not a competent or foreign regulatory authority as defined in the treaties or any relevant legislation in force in Nevis. He could not therefore sensibly expect to simply pop up in Nevis and demand information to which he is not entitled” said the Premier.  

The Premier and Minister of Finance makes it clear that Nevis is a well managed and properly regulated jurisdiction. As part of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis, the island has seen the continual update of its legislative and regulatory framework to ensure its compliance with international standards. Such legislative updates include but are not limited to the various tax and information exchange arrangements with foreign countries, mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with foreign countries, FATCA obligations with the United States of America, Common Reporting Standards, and joining the OECD’s BEPS (base erosion and profit shifting) initiative approved by the G20. 

Nevis is a small island and no doubt perceived by powerful international Media outlets as an easy target for highly defamatory and misleading allegations. The Premier condemns this irresponsible approach to journalism and the very real harm it can cause to the reputation and economy of the island of Nevis. Nevis will continue to ensure that it is a well managed and properly regulated International Financial Centre and shall continue to comply with all international regulatory standards. 

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Megan Cerullo

‘Upskirt’ pervert foiled as shoe camera explodes before he can take video in Wisconsin

'Upskirt' pervert foiled as shoe camera explodes before he can take video in Wisconsin
  (Cassio_Henrique/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
How and why he walked free (act was not carried out) – such dispicable intention…

A Wisconsin man’s perverted plan to shoot videos up women’s skirts went awry when the battery in his shoe camera exploded, Madison Police said.

He was testing the camera at home when it flared up, preventing him from obtaining any illicit footage.

He injured his foot and suffered minor burns, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

The man, 32, decided to turn himself into police after conferring with his mentor, a clergyman, about what had happened.

He wasn’t arrested because he hadn’t taken any videos, according to police.

“He said he had purchased a shoe camera that he intended to use to take upskirt videos of females, but the camera battery exploded prior to obtaining any video,” police chief Mike Koval wrote in his daily report.

“The subject was counseled on his actions and released, as no illicit video had been taken,” Koval said.

He was allowed to walk away despite a 2015 Wisconsin law banning people from knowingly installing devices to record under other people’s clothing without their consent.

The offense carries a sentence of up to 3 1/2 years of combined prison time and extended supervision and a fine of $10,000.

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