Caribbean RoundUp

Recaptured inmates are led by police outside the Croix-des-Bouquets Civil Prison after an attempted breakout, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. At least seven people were killed on Thursday after several inmates tried to escape from the prison, eyewitnesses told The Associated Press.
Associated Press/Dieu Nalio Chery

Antigua

Former chief executive officer of Antigua and Barbuda’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC), Leroy King was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Texas for his role in connection with a US$7 billion Ponzi scheme executed by disgraced financier Allen Stanford.

King, 74, was the last defendant to be sentenced for his involvement in the fraud that was executed through the Antigua-based Stanford International Bank (SIB).

King, a dual citizen of the US and Antigua and Barbuda, was extradited to the US in November 2019. He pleaded guilty on Jan. 30, 2020, to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, for his role in obstructing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation into the SIB.

King, was responsible for the twin-island nation’s regulatory oversight of Stanford International Bank Ltd. (SIBL) investment portfolio, including reports and responses to requests by foreign regulators, including the SEC, for information and documents about SIBL’s operations.

He admitted that Stanford gave him US$520,963.97 in cash payments over the course of the conspiracy.

The Texan businessman provided him among other incentives with repeated flights on private jets that he or Stanford Financial Group (SFG) entities owned.

Around 2005, the SEC began investigating Stanford and the Stanford Financial Group and made official inquiries with the FSRC regarding the value and content of SIBL’s purported investments.

However, King denied the SEC’s request for help.

Five others were also convicted for their roles in the scheme and received sentences ranging from three to 20 years in federal prison.

A federal grand jury found Stanford guilty in June 2012 for his role in orchestrating a 20-year investment fraud scheme in which he misappropriated US$7 billion from SIB to finance his personal business. He is serving a 110-year prison sentence.

 

Barbados

The Barbados government will soon launch a National Investment Fund (NIF) to secure the next batch of COVID-19 vaccines for residents.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley in making the announcement said that more than 29,000 people had already received the vaccine.

While the first 100,000 doses of the Oxford-Astra-Zeneca vaccine were a gift from the government of India, Mottley said the next shipment would come at a cost but did not go into details.

In an address to the nation recently to provide an update on the COVID-19 situation and the vaccination roll out, the prime minister said the government would not be charging people for the next round of vaccines it intends to purchase, but would be appealing at the individual and corporate levels to help ease the “stress’ by contributing to the fund when it is established.

Mottley reported that about 14 percent of the island’s population had already been vaccinated. She said just over 29,000 vaccinations were administered in just over two weeks from India, which arrived recently in Barbados.

 

Grenada

Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell said there will be no carnival celebrations this year, even if 60 percent of the population get the COVID-19 vaccine.

This will be the second consecutive year carnival celebrations in the Spice Island has been canceled due to the pandemic.

The island’s immunization rollout began on Feb. 12 and health officials are working towards having 60 percent of the island’s population of 110,000 vaccinated.
During an interview with journalists Dr. Mitchell said, “we will not be able to achieve 60 percent by July, but even if we did, I think it will be a mistake to go and have a mass event because you will still have 40 percent of the people who will not have been vaccinated.”

Grenada’s carnival climaxes in August annually. There were no celebrations in 2020 because of measures enforced to control and contain the spread of COVID-19.

 

Guyana

President Irfaan Ali has announced a new national award to be bestowed on those who defended Guyana’s democracy following last year’s election.

In a statement issued on the first anniversary of the controversial March 2, 2020, vote, Ali said the names of those to be vested with the Order of Democracy will be announced later this year.

He said although Guyanese people went out to vote peacefully and orderly, there was a devious plot to subvert the democratic will of the people after the counting of the votes.

The president said he has taken a decision to institute a national award, the Order of Democracy, in recognition of the contributions of those individuals and organizations who defied the riggers and defended our democracy.

 

Jamaica:

Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced new and stricter Covid-19 measures- including a ban on funerals and burials, a work-from-home order for the public sector employees and the extension of the island-wide curfew.

He said the government had been forced to shift policy efforts in order to preserve lives and livelihoods, amid an increase in Covid-19 positive cases and hospitalization.

COVID-19 facilities are currently at capacity or nearly full, with 225 people in hospital for treatment.

“We have to take these drastic actions because citizens are not displaying the level of responsibility and compliance necessary, Holness said as he announced that the 8pm to 5am curfew will be in place until March 23.

As of last week, a strict work-from-home arrangement will be in place for the public sector. Only employees who work in critical service delivery should be in the physical office locations.

 

Haiti

One of Haiti’s most powerful gang leader, Arnel Joseph, was recently killed – a day after dozens of other inmates escaped in a prison breakout that left at least eight people dead, including the prison director, authorities said.

Police said Joseph was riding on a motorcycle through the Artibone area in the town of L’Estere when he was spotted by a police checkpoint.

It is reported that Joseph pulled out a gun and exchanged gunfire with the police and when the smoke was cleared, he was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

He had been Haiti’s most wanted fugitive until his arrest in 2019.

He was reportedly one of the inmates who escaped during the jailbreak.

 

Trinidad:

Trinidad and Tobago is to receive a significantly increase supply of COVID-19 vaccines from the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP).

T&T was initially set to get 226,000 doses, which will have a near doubling of this allocation to 426,000 from the AMSP.

The 426,000 doses are in addition to 108,000 doses that T&T is scheduled to receive this week via the United States-backed COVAX alliance mechanism.

Minister of  Health, Terrence Deyalsingh said 108,000 doses were expected to arrive by the end of March.

He said that was the deadline given to T&T by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

The AMSP, a single-source platform designed to achieve faster, more transparent and cost-effective access to COVID-19 supplies, has pre-ordered vaccines for 55 African Union member  states.

CARICOM member states, which have been squeezed out of the international market because of their relatively small demands, sought vaccines through the AMSP.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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