Caribbean RoundUp

Antigua

The Antiguan government has received a request from the Indian government for the extradition of Indian billionaire businessman Mehul Choksi, who is wanted by law enforcement authorities in his homeland on fraud charges.

The government issued a statement, saying that Ambassador Manreept Vohra was dispatched by the Indian government to Antigua and Barbuda, to follow up on the extradition request for Choksi. During a meeting with Foreign Minister Chet Greene and his team, Ambassador Vohra presented him with the formal documentation. Greene said the government of Antigua and Barbuda will be a responsible actor and will cooperate with the government of India in this matter.

Choski, who became a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda under the island’s Citizenship by Investment (CIP) program, is wanted for questioning as one of the alleged masterminds behind a US$2 billion scam at the state-run Punjab National Bank in India. He has denied any involvement in the fraud in his country.

Barbados

The Barbados government has announced the establishment of a National Cruise Development Commission to focus on the state of the island’s struggling cruise tourism sector.

This was disclosed by Tourism Minister Kerrie Symmonds, who said the island’s cruise sector is said to be in “a state of deep crisis” and if immediate action is not taken the “ship is doomed to sink.”

He told reporters at a recent press conference that the findings of a recent situational analysis and reports found that despite seeing an increase in arrival numbers, the cruise ship sector was floundering.

Symmonds said the situational analysis has been completed and now he is in a position to reveal that the cruise ship industry in Barbados is in a state of very deep crisis. He said unless imminent and immediate fundamental alternatives are put in place, “we are confronting ourselves with catastrophic failure.”

The Tourism minister listed port size constraints, inefficient passenger infrastructure, low interest on onshore activities and undesirably poor customer service as some of the issues which could cripple the local cruise industry.

He said the 15-member commission will meet at the beginning of September and hold talks with stakeholders over a three-month period before handing a report on its findings to Cabinet.

Guyana

Guyana, which has one of the highest suicides rates globally, has launched an anti-suicide campaign aimed at raising awareness of the situation.

The Anti-suicide, Anti-Violence Campaign is being organized by Caribbean Voice, in collaboration with Voices Against Violence.

The month-long campaign is aimed at raising awareness on the issue of suicide and is set to end with candlelight vigils across the country on the eve of Sept. 10, which is internationally observed as World Suicide Prevention Day.

Minister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton has encouraged “fellow Guyanese to get on board with this initiative” and collaborate with not only Caribbean Voice but other bodies” working towards end suicide and violence altogether.”

He said it is important to unite against all forms of social ills and observing these vigils will be a great start.

The minister said Guyana was one of the countries which “moved aggressively to develop a suicide prevention plan” which has resulted in the drastic decline of the country’s suicide rate.

A 2012 World Health Organization report indicated that Guyana had a suicide rate of 44.2 per 100,000 and that for every single female suicide, there were 3.2 male suicides.

Jamaica

The Jamaica government says it has suspended the no-sleeveless policy after reviewing the long-standing practice of prohibiting women wearing sleeveless attire from entry into government buildings.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness in a statement said he has formally given instructions for the suspension of the no-sleeveless policy and instructed a full review of government dress code practice. He said it has been found that the practice exists to prohibit persons who wear sleeveless garments from entering government buildings through “dress codes” established within particular ministries, department policy on which these practices are based will be changed.

The statement said that the Cabinet has taken note of the concerns expressed by members of the public and empathizes with the unfortunate experiences shared primarily by women in both extreme and everyday circumstances.

Holness said he has instructed the Cabinet secretary to write to ministries, departments and agencies to make them aware that they are not to deny access or services to persons, based on their sleeveless attire, as this is not the policy of the government.

St. Kitts

St. Kitts and Nevis officials say that phase one of the Taiwanese-funded closed-circuit television (CCTV) initiative has contributed to not only a reduction in criminal activity in and around the capital Basseterre, but has helped law enforcement solve crimes in areas where cameras have been placed.

A total of 345 cameras, covering Basseterre and its environs, were installed in phase one of the Cities and Broadways Surveillance System CTV Project which came on stream last year.

A final report on the first phase of the project, according to a statement issued by the government recently, found that the cameras have played a key role in crime-fighting “due to their high evidentiary value and deterrent factor.”

The report attributed the decrease in serious crimes to the EC$5.25 million project.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has defended his government’s decision to impose visa restrictions, insisting that the move was not politically motivated.

He told reporters that the visa impositions were “strictly on a security basis” and that he had held talks with officials in Caracas, Venezuela, where consensus had been reached on the need to strengthen the borders of both countries. The prime minister said his primary responsibility is the safety of the citizens of St. Lucia.

Chastanet claimed that Venezuelans have been involved in the shipment of arms and drugs to St. Lucia and throughout the Caribbean as a result of the economic situation confronting them.

He said by putting restrictions on Venezuelans allows “us to have greater amounts of control.”

Recently, the main Opposition St. Lucia Labor Party (SLP) questioned the decision of the government to impose visa restrictions, saying the prime minister had linked the 60 murders recorded in St. Lucia as well as most of the guns coming into the island as a result of mass movement of Venezuelans fleeing the South American country where opposition and other groups are engaged in protest actions to remove President Nicholas Maduro’s government.

Trinidad

The Financial Investigations Branch (FIB) of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has charged 18 people in relation to laundering more than TT$20 million over the past seven years.

The unit also successfully forfeited TT$418, 387, 40, US$138,620 and EC$28,000 from money launderers.

The statistics were revealed by ASP Terrence Pierre, while speaking at the weekly police press briefing, at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain recently.

Pierre said that between March and last month, the unit charged one man with laundering US$693,040 and made an application before the courts for the seizure of $600,889 and US$1,022.

He said that the unit is expected to increase its workload after being assigned 17 new investigators in May.

Pierre said the FBI dealt exclusively with investigating money laundering and terrorism financing, while the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau (ACIB) and Fraud Squad pursue money laundering investigations in cases where it results from corruption or fraud.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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