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Jan 5, 2018

Andrew Bennett Gets Reprieve, but Not for Long

Andrew Bennett

The ceremonial opening of the Supreme Court on Monday will possibly buy Andrew Bennett additional time to lawyer up and prepare a defense ahead of extradition proceedings.  That is if Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington endorses paperwork compiled by the Attorney General’s office on behalf of the U.S. State Department.  Bennett is wanted by U.S. authorities on money laundering charges after being indicted by a grand jury in Puerto Rico several years ago.  Those charges stem from an undercover operation in which the attorney reportedly accepted a large sum of cash in U.S. currency to transact on behalf of a drug trafficking organization.  As we reported on Thursday, Solicitor General Nigel Hawke has completed form-filling related to the extradition request; however, those documents are yet to be delivered to the foreign minister’s office.  According to Elrington, he is aware of the application and is anticipating that the dossier will be sent over sometime by the middle of next week.

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“Yesterday I spoke to Mr. Hawke, who is the Solicitor General actually, on another matter and I think during the course of that discussion he indicated to me that they in fact intended to have documents presented to me in connection with the Andrew Bennett matter.  But that is as far as in fact we have [gotten].”

 

Aaron Humes

“So that document has not reached you as yet?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“No I haven’t seen any documents in relation to him.”

 

Aaron Humes

“Okay, I am not sure how much you can comment until you do but certainly if the allegations that are being made are true and are sufficient to warrant his extradition it would be the first such move against an attorney, one; two, the origin of the complaint is based on an informant’s suggestion that both high-ranking bankers in Belize and political figures in Belize were allegedly laundering money for drug cartels and that sort of thing and the DEA supposed to have followed up on that.  Your thoughts on that?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“I have no information on it whatsoever.  It may well be that it’s the first time that an application for an extradition order for a member of the bar association is being made, or an attorney at law, but I am not aware of the details and I try not to get myself involved in speculation or to speak on matters that I don’t have definite information on.”

 

Aaron Humes

“Okay, so are you expecting those documents at some point today or…”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“I think the suggestion was that they will come to me but there is some delay because of the imminent opening of the Supreme Court on Monday, I think, and that was an explanation given for the delay…  So I don’t expect to get anything on that before Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.”

 

Should the documents be signed, the Chief Magistrate is then expected to proceed with a provisional warrant for Bennett’s arrest.

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