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Sep 29, 2014

Bahamian Stockbrokers Out on Hundred Thousand Dollars Bail

Bahamians Rohn Knowles and Kelvin Leach, both legally embattled financial advisers, are tonight with their families after posting a hefty sum to secure their freedom.  The duo had been in custody at the Belize Central Prison since September fifteenth when they were detained and arrested pending extradition proceedings. Knowles and Leach, who are wanted in the United States for tax fraud, are employees of Titan International Securities, one of several companies named in a federal indictment in the Eastern District Court of New York.  They are being sought for their alleged complicity in a scheme which saw the laundering of a billion Belize dollars to American investors.  Following an unexpected adjournment last Wednesday, the stockbrokers appeared in the courtroom of Justice Denis Hanomansingh this morning for a bail hearing, in the company of senior counsels Godfrey Smith and Eamon Courtenay.  On the other side of the matter were Solicitor General, Anika Jackson, and former Acting Sol-Gen Nigel Hawke.  The thrust of the defense’s argument was that there was little to no basis for the continued detention of the men since an extradition request is yet to be formalized.  The subsequent failure of the prosecution to put forward a cogent argument for Knowles’ and Leach’s  remand resulted in bonds being offered and met in the amount of a hundred thousand Belize dollars each.

 

Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith, Attorney for Kelvin Leach and Rohn Knowles

“The judge granted bail to the petitioners.  They are to report to the police station twice a week under the usual bail conditions and the reason he did so was that he came to the conclusion, based on our arguments, that the process was defective.  That the government misunderstood their powers under the extradition act, dehn just grabbed di man dehn and sent them off to Kolbe without giving them an opportunity to challenge the basis of the provisional warrant for arrest, to make arguments for bail or any such thing.  So he was obliged to grant bail.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“The sum seems fairly steep, a hundred thousand dollars each.  Can you explain how this was derived?”

 

Godfrey Smith

“It’s a matter for the discretion of the judge.  Yes it’s a steep, steep figure but that apart I suppose the judge had some advertence to the fact that it’s an extradition related matter and so on.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now Mr. Courtenay, in terms of the submissions you made which seem to bolster what Senior Counsel Smith put forward before the court, can you explain some aspects of it to us?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Kelvin Leach and Rohn Knowles

“Well I think, as you probably heard this morning, what we have here is an unfortunately, and I guess the judge upheld it, an application of the treaty completely outside the law.  You cannot pick up people on a warrant that says bring them to me, meaning the Chief Magistrate, and just decide to send them to Kolbe.  So we pointed out to the judge first of all that that was wrong.  Building on that, we made the point to the court that we’re not even sure that these are extraditable offenses and before the magistrate can issue the warrant she has to be satisfied that they are extraditable and that is why a hearing has to take place for that to be done.  That was not given to our clients.  And there was of course the argument that where are these guys going to go?  There are Interpol red alerts for them, they can’t leave Belize.  If they go to The Bahamas there is an extradition treaty there and we pointed out that the evidence from the government did not reveal any risk.  They had no basis to say that here is a risk that these people are going to go somewhere.”

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1 Response for “Bahamian Stockbrokers Out on Hundred Thousand Dollars Bail”

  1. John Mencias says:

    This kind of thing concerns me. Whether or not you feel the gentlemen are complicit in the wrongdoings that they are accused of by the US authorities, due process must be observed and adhered to on our end. For them to have had to spend over two weeks in lock-up in order to prevent them from absconding to where-I-don’t-know so as to give the US time to make their case for extradition is simply not acceptable. If this was not the reason for the lock-up, then what was it? I understand also that persons awaiting extradition (nothing proven against them as yet) are generally kept in maximum security: in worse conditions than those who are actually serving time for crimes committed here in Belize. Again, most unacceptable!!!

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