In the UK, he was a major donor to and Treasurer of the Conservative Party from 1998 to 2001, under William Hague. His tenure was marked by a number of controversies. In December 2005, he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.
THU 19 NOV 2009 It has long been suggested that Ashcroft helped to build Misick a palatial beachfront mansion in exchange, it is alleged, for awarding contracts to build two state-of-the-art hospital complexes on the struggling UK dependency to a company indirectly linked to Ashcroft.
Now the Independent claims Lord Ashcroft's British Caribbean Bank (BCB), which is run locally by his son Andrew, advanced a $5m (£3m) loan to Misick, who was forced to resign in April after a UK royal commission found evidence of a culture of "political amorality" on the islands. The constitution suspended, the islands are now under FCO administration.
Ashcroft's dealings in Turks and Caicos have remained obscure. He is a ‘Belonger’, or naturalised citizen of the islands, and his bank apparently underwrote more a third of a billion dollars in development funds during Misick's rule
Ashcroft, who recently accompanied a shadow government delegation to high-level meetings in Washington, and his son Andrew, who runs the island's Nikki Beach nightclub and resort, have organised several visits to the islands for members of the shadow cabinet. One of those invited in 2007 was the shadow foreign secretary, William Hague.
According to the Independent, Misick build his mansion on land he bought from Lord Ashcroft's company Leeward, negotiating with the head of the peer's former construction company, Johnston International. Misick received a $5m loan from BCB in spring 2007 as he was building his mansion, on top of a $4.7m loan from a company he said was associated with Johnston which he used to pay for the construction.
When questioned over the precise relationships of the companies and individuals involved in the deal, Misick demurred.
"You are premier of this overseas territory. Did you not wish to know who it was you were doing business with?” pressed QC Alex Milne.
Misick’s former wife, LisaRaye McCoy, was more forthcoming, saying Ashcroft would "make provision" for the former premier at the bank. "He has been to the house several times and we have been out to eat and we have met at Nikki Beach," she said.
Ashcroft has close business and other connections with the Commonwealth country of Belize, and served as the country's ambassador to the United Nations between 1998 and 2000.
In 2009, the Prime Minister of Belize Dean Barrow told its parliament: Ashcroft is an extremely powerful man. His net worth may well be equal to Belize's entire GDP. He is nobody to cross.
In 1984 Ashcroft formed Belize Holdings (BHI), which became the vehicle for an acquisition spree during the 1980s. By the late 1980s, BHI had become one of the largest holding companies in Belize, with direct interests in or holdings via main operating company Stargate Ltd, ranging from telecommunications, property, the Belize shipping register, and citrus fruits. In 1987, BHI led the formation of Belize Bank Holdings (BBH), which took control of Belize Bank from the Royal Bank of Canada. Belize Bank has become the country's largest financial institution, controlling some 50 percent of the market.
In 2005, under pressure from the Belize Government to bring transparency to its Belize based financial interests, BBH restructured, demerging its interests in England and Ireland into a separate company, Carlisle Group Ltd. BBH then renamed itself BCB Holdings.
Mario Hoffman, the controversial Slovakian owner of Salt Cay DevCo, the development company hoping [ still? ] to do a massive resort development encompassing most of the historic and pristine island of Salt Cay, has filed a motion in the Courts of the Turks and Caicos Islands in reference to the forth coming Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry.
A contributor to the TCI Journal went to the courthouse in Providenciales on Monday May 18, 2009, to learn the particulars and hear the arguments of the case, only to learn that the attorneys for Mr. Hoffman, Johnathan Katan of the local firm Miller, Simons, O'Sullivan and some of the attorneys from London requested that the hearing be held in camera (behind closed doors). That request was granted.
Also, contrary to reports in the TCI Net News, the initial recent attempt to shut down, or otherwise effect the publishing of the Journal following its reporting of the hearings came from Lord Michael Ashcroft, the owner of Belize Bank, and not from Mario Hoffman.
Respectfully, Editors@TCIJournal.com May 19, 2009