The ongoing corruption case against former Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick, which has been underway for the past four years, took another turn this past week when Misick was arrested by police in Brazil, where he had been living high for months.
Misick, who became known in the United States during his short marriage to actress Lisa Raye that ended in ugly accusations of assault and biting, is accused of masterminding the largest corruption scheme in the history of the Caribbean region. He reportedly made millions selling British land in a scheme that also involved other ex-ministers. Because the corruption was so systemic, the British government came in and imposed direct rule in 2009 and had to issue a $260 million loan to prop up the islands’ economy. Self-government was returned to the islands with last month’s election.
While Missick, 46, has denied any wrongdoing, he fled the islands in 2009 and sought political asylum in Brazil, but his request was rejected last month. Earlier this year, when it was still unclear where he was living, he told the Miami Herald he was not a fugitive.
“Let’s be clear. I am not a fugitive, and will never be a fugitive,” he said. “I have applied for political asylum from another country and I am merely seeking protection from political persecution.”
According to Rio de Janeiro Interpol chief Orlando Nunes, Misick had been living in Rio de Janeiro for months.
He moved around the city’s most exclusive areas, such as Ipanema and Leblon, and lived a “sophisticated life,” Nunes told the BBC.
Misick had been given official papers allowing him to work in the country, but was arrested on an international warrant issued by the British, which now wants him extradited to the Turks and Caicos islands for questioning by a Special Investigation and Prosecution Team.
Turks and Caicos islands are known as a tax haven because of its lenient rules. During Misick’s term as chief minister from 2003 to 2006 and as its first Premier from 2006 to 2009, there was an explosion of resort building. Misick’s brother Washington is a former Chief Minister and is currently Deputy Chief Minister following the elections last month.
Misick’s marriage to LisaRaye ended in 2008 amidst rumors of infidelity. LisaRaye was not a popular figure on the islands during the marriage. Misick also had a rape charge involving unidentified woman who was reportedly a friend of LisaRaye’s.