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Sep 24, 2014

Bail Hearings for Bahamian Nationals Adjourned

Incarcerated stockbrokers, Kelvin Leach and Rohn Knowles, were scheduled to appear in Supreme Court this morning where bail applications were to have been made before Justice Denis Hanomansingh. But there was a hitch and it appears the duo will be spending far more time behind bars.  The Bahamian nationals, wanted by U.S. authorities for their purported roles in a money laundering scheme which netted investors over a billion Belize dollars, were charged on September fifteenth for failure to declare a sum of money beyond the prescribed limit.  Those charges were brought by the Financial Intelligence Unit after the pair was nabbed upon arrival at the Phillip Goldson International Airport on September twelfth.  A chartered flight had been booked to transport the executives back to their home country when local law enforcement closed in.  Following their arrest, Leach and Knowles were escorted to the Ladyville Police Substation where FIU representatives found them to be in possession of a little over six thousand U.S. dollars each.  After spending the weekend on lockdown, both employees of Titan International Securities appeared in Magistrate’s court where they were read charges for the non-indictable offense.  Upon being granted bail however, they were once again detained pending an extradition request by the United States government.  Senior counsels Godfrey Smith and Eamon Courtenay spoke to the media when it was evident that Leach and Knowles would not have been brought to court. They said that the pair can lawfully be held for a period of sixty days.

 

Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith, Attorney for Rohn Knowles & Kelvin Leach

“The non-event was that today was scheduled to be the bail application for the two petitioners Leach and Knowles. We got here only to be informed or the judge when we were ready to start the case, we were informed that neither of the two gentlemen had been brought down from the Kolbe facility and as a result…well in addition to that the other side asked for some more time to be able to respond to our written submissions. The position is adjourned until Monday the twenty ninth, next week.”

 

Reporter

“At this point has an extradition request been formally entered requesting your clients?”

 

Godfrey Smith

“Our information from government counsel is that no formal application for extradition has been made to the government of Belize.”

 

Reporter

“So then how long can they justifiably remain remanded if there is no such extradition request forthcoming?”

 

Godfrey Smith

“Under the treaty, sixty days from the time that they were apprehended.”

 

Reporter

“Now any rational have they reached a conclusion, because these gentlemen are Bahamians, were them to receive bail, they gone because obviously America is trying to hammer then. Is that a legitimate risk without trying the case in advance?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Rohn Knowles & Kelvin Leach

“Well I think the first thing to say is that our instructions are very clear that our clients have no intentions of leaving this jurisdiction, no intention to flee. In order to deny them their freedom I think there has to be sufficient evidence. The government so far has not provided any evidence, they have given leave by the court to file evidence to file any risk that they may perceive and that risk has to be rare. So as we stand here we are aware of no evidence and no reason to believe that these gentlemen are intending to or likely to flee Belize.”

 

Reporter

“Does it count that they have been wrongfully caught at the airport once already?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“They weren’t caught at the airport at all and I think that’s a mistake. These gentlemen were assured by the commissioner of police and the ministry of foreign affair at the highest level that they were free to leave this jurisdiction. Unfortunately they were stopped by someone at the airport who was not aware that they were given permission being granted and then a search was effected. Interestingly as you know a charge was then presented against the, for which they were given bail. It was immediately then after that the US authorities sprung into action and made the request for the provisional arrest of our clients. All of that to say is that my client and Mr. Smith’s client had no intention of fleeing, still have no intention of fleeing, what they were doing was in the open, you cannot flee in the open from an international airport.”

 

Godfrey Smith

“Can I say just one more thing on that to support what Mr. Courtenay said, anecdotally a lot of people have said, “buoy why the man they neva gaan through the border dah night, Chetumal border or Melchor.” The simple fact is that obviously if they wanted to flee they would have chosen that route. But they were bent on ensuring that they were in compliance with all laws at all times and only after clearing with the relevant authority there was nothing prohibiting them going to their home country where they would have preferred to face any extradition, did they attempt to do so openly. Now, they are aware that that is not possible and they are preparing to deal with the situation here.”         

 

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