Caribbean Roundup

Antigua

Investigators probing the June 10 fire that caused at least US$129 million in losses at regional airline LIAT, say there is a possibility that a battery-powered golf cart, left “unattended to charge” may have caused the blaze.

But the airline in a swift response described the report in the Antigua Observer newspaper as “extremely unfortunate” speculation and stressed that the cause has not yet been determined.

The Daily Observer quoted an unnamed “source close to the probe” as saying a golf cart left charging over the week-end has become “one of the central focuses” of the investigation.

The fire gutted the maintenance hangar, destroying the airline’s longest-serving aircraft, two offices and a motor pool in its headquarters at VC Bird International Airport.

A team of investigators from the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority, the regional civil aviation agency which is based in Antigua, together with fire service investigators, police and Antiguan forensic officers have been questioning airline and airport workers about the incident.

Antigua

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reinitiated its multi-million dollar Standby Arrangement (SBA) with Antigua and Barbuda after suspending it over concern about the use of the funds.

In 2010, the Antigua and Barbuda entered into a US$110.4 million standby arrangement with the Washington-based financial institution. However, the IMF suspended the program last July immediately following a move by the Baldwin Spencer administration to join with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in the takeover of the struggling Antigua and Barbuda Investment Bank.

Barbados

The Barbados government will table legislation aimed at regulating the “cash for gold” phenomenon and the sale of other metals, said Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite.

Speaking at the recent launch of Police Week, Brathwaite said the new legislation would also provide for stiffer penalties for people who engage in the theft of copper.

He said over the past several months, some of the most significant challenges have been associated with property crimes, burglary and theft on the street.

The AG said there is ongoing work to ensure that by the end of this year, the appropriate legislative reform would have taken place to facilitate the more effective regulation of the trade of metals.

Guyana

Divers have so far failed to find the body of a crew member of a cargo ship which recently capsized in the Demerara River.

The missing man has been identified as Gerald Fraser, cook on the Miss Elissa which had been originally bound for Trinidad and Tobago before turning back for Port Georgetown when disaster struck.

The 67 year-old man was reported missing by his six colleagues, who were rescued soon after the vessel overturned in the river.

Haiti

A New Constitution that recently took effect gave two million Haitians living abroad more rights in their homeland, including the ability to run for some posts in government.

The amendments were approved last year but Haitian President Michel Martelly blocked them at the time because of unspecified errors.

The new constitution also paves the way for new Senate elections that would give Martelly a chance to bolster his tiny bloc of supporters in the legislature.

He fired the nine members of a provisional electoral council by decree in December but the new constitution enables him to form a permanent electoral panel.

Martelly signed the amended constitution into law recently at the National Palace with diplomats and lawmakers present.

Haiti

A bus overturned in a rain-swollen river in southern Haiti and officials differed about the number of people who died.

A statement issued by President Martelly’s office said about 60 people were on the bus when the driver attempted to cross the Glace River, It said that local civil protection officials have recovered the bodies of 40 passengers and are still searching the area. The statement said nine people were either rescued from the submerged bus or managed to swim to safety.

But Norman Wiener, an official from the Grand Anse department, said the bus owner who collected money from the passengers said that there were 27 people aboard and that only eight are missing. Wierner said another l9 people survived.

The accident occurred near the town of Pestel on Haiti’s southern peninsula. Police said that the driver apparently ignored warnings not to try to cross the river.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s ruling People’s National Party (PNP) has issued a statement saying it was the organization that received US$1 million from convicted Ponzi scheme operator, David Smith in the run up to the 2007 general election and not PJ Patterson, a former party president and former prime minister of Jamaica.

According to the PNP, its investigation has established that US$1 million was received in an account on its behalf from Smith’s investment firm Olint and spent on the party’s election campaign.

“Though the party has not yet received documentary evidence as to the source of the sum, our information is that it came from Olint,” party chairman Robert Pickersgill said.

Pickersgill also said the party’s investigators confirmed the truth and accuracy of the statement previously released by Patterson that he did not get any money from Olint.

The PNP chairman said in view of these findings, the party will be advising the authorities in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), so that the recipient of the funds is not wrongly identified.

In a Confiscation Order dated April 25, 2012, the TCI Supreme Court ruled that a number of payments made by Smith, a former Jamaican banker, are “tainted and caught by” the Proceeds of Crime Ordinance 2007.

Pickersgill said that the PNP’s attorneys have written to the authorities in the Turks and Caicos Islands to request that they provide the PNP with any relevant information they may assist in the investigations.

Trinidad

Jamaican police are investigating the abduction and murder of Michelle Coudray, 36, daughter of Marlene Coudray, Mayor of the Southern City of San Fernando, Trinidad.

Her burnt remains were recently found in a cane field in Montego Bay and it was only last week that a positive identification was made using the dental records taken to Jamaica by her mother.

Confirmation of the identification came through a press statement issued by the Jamaica Constabulary Communications Network.

Coudray, a mother of three has been working in Jamaica as a school teacher. She was last seen alive getting into a taxi in Montego Bay, St James on the afternoon of June 2. She was reported missing six days later.

Two days before she disappeared, Coudray had returned to Jamaica from Trinidad to take up a teaching job. She previously worked with Air Jamaica.

Police have detained the taxi driver for questioning.

More from Around NYC