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Sep 15, 2014

Indicted Bahamians granted bail, but are immediately rearrested for extradition proceedings

Tonight, two Bahamian nationals are behind bars pending proceedings for an extradition request by the United States government. Rohn Knowles and Kelvin Leach are accused in a Belize billion dollar securities fraud and money laundering scheme. The two were named among six defendants indicted by US federal prosecutors in a New York court last week. But on Friday, after receiving confirmation that they could leave the country, Knowles and Leach were detained by police at the Philip Goldson International Airport for failing to declare the prescribed amount of cash they were each carrying. The duo was kept in custody over the weekend and this morning, while they were granted bail in the Magistrate’s Court, the duo was kept in court because of the extradition request. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The arraignment of Bahamian nationals Rohn Knowles and Kelvin Leach, before Magistrate Dale Cayetano this morning, succeeds their detention on Friday whilst attempting to leave Belize for their home country.  The pair was nabbed at the Phillip Goldson International Airport in the early afternoon, moments before their scheduled departure via private charter.  They were promptly whisked over to the Ladyville Police substation where a thorough search was conducted in the presence of Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith.

 

Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith, Attorney for Rohn Knowles & Kelvin Leach

“On Friday, after we had cleared with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that there was no request pending for their expedition because these gentlemen did not intend to flee or they’re not running away.  They are prepared to face whatever comes.  But we went to the extent of finding out clearly whether there was any impediment to their travel, which is why they went very openly to the Phillip Goldson to fly because there was no warrant for their arrest either locally or through extradition proceedings.”

 

Their effort to leave, however, came to an abrupt halt when they were held at the PGIA and subsequently found to have been carrying above the prescribed limit in currency.

 

Godfrey Smith

“Before they were given any chance to declare anything, remember now the charge is that they failed to declare, before they were given any form to declare; in fact, there is no form to declare.  Before they were given the opportunity to approach any authority and say, “look, we have certain cash,” they were grabbed, detained for a long process of searching, where the money was found.  But the money wasn’t being hidden, they were told right away that they had the money.  And, of course, as I said, that was a stalling tactic to buy time to get their extradition request in.”

 

The episode began several weeks ago on Wall Street, where penny stock in a little-known company called CYNK Technology Corp. suddenly soared through the roof.  In just one hour the company’s market value climbed to six billion U.S. dollars, catching the attention of traders in the stock market.  Since then an indictment against Knowles, Leach and four others, including Belizean businessman Andrew Godfrey and American national Robert Bandfield, owners and operators of Titan International Securities, has been filed in a U.S. federal court.  The charges against all six are related to securities fraud after being named in a five hundred million U.S. dollars investment scheme.

 

While Knowles and Leach have been jointly charged for failure to declare a little over six thousand dollars in U.S. currency each, they were individually granted bail in the sum of seven thousand Belize dollars today.  Before they could be set free however, they were once again detained pending extradition proceedings.

 

Godfrey Smith

“Not surprisingly, right after we successfully applied for bail and the magistrate granted bail on the usual conditions that they present themselves once a week, we were presented with a warrant for their apprehension under extradition proceedings.  What we were granted bail for, what we got bail for this morning was the trumped up charge of failing to declare currency over a certain amount, which we always maintained was a stalling tactic to buy time for their extradition request to come.  So as soon as they were granted bail, the warrant for their apprehension, signed by the magistrate was issued, based on the request for extradition.”

 

Despite being granted bail under the condition that they surrender all travel documents, in this case both passports were seized by the Financial Intelligence Unit on Friday, Knowles, a stockbroker by profession, and Leach are in detention at the Belize Central Prison.

 

Godfrey Smith

“In relation to the charges that are currently in place against them, that they have been charged with, as I said earlier, I believe there is no basis for that and we are very confident that we will be able to dispose of that.  In relation to the extradition proceedings, we haven’t see any details of that yet.  When we do I would be able to speak to that.”

 

Knowles and Leach are scheduled to return before Magistrate Dale Cayetano for the aforesaid non-indictable offense on September twenty-fourth. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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1 Response for “Indicted Bahamians granted bail, but are immediately rearrested for extradition proceedings”

  1. kmh says:

    Very disingenous of their attorney. No doubt it is harder for US to extradite from Bahamas which is why they were trying to get there. This will be another disgrace for Belize if we don’t hand them over.

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