The rise and sudden fall of a playboy premier

He was in charge of one of the most picturesque spots on the planet, a Caribbean paradise of 40 sun-drenched islands just an hour's flight from Florida.

And as premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British overseas territory where the Union flag still flies, Michael Misick enjoyed a lifestyle every bit as glamorous as his fiefdom's numerous celebrity guests.

Noted for his penchant for pinstripe suits, dark glasses and private jets, he cut a colourful figure on the islands, where the pristine white beaches have proved a draw for A-listers from Rolling Stone Keith Richards through to actors Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas.

Yet his playboy lifestyle proved to be a facade hiding an unsavoury reality: following the outcome of a massive corruption inquiry in 2009, Misick abruptly left the island amid claims that he had illegally profited from multimillion-dollar sell-offs of Crown land. So serious were the problems in his administration that the British government took the unusual step of restoring direct rule to the islands, after declaring corruption to be "endemic".

Then, having slipped away, Misick, 47, resurfaced 18 months ago in another tropical spot famous for harbouring fugitives from British justice: the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, where he moved into a luxury apartment near Ipanema Beach.

Misick's time on the run has proved short-lived. Knowing that he was in Brazil, Britain's Foreign Office moved to discreetly close a loophole in their extradition treaty with the country. In December he was seized and put in custody, and now he faces being flown back home to the Turks and Caicos islands for a trial after a Brazilian court refused a claim for political asylum.

Misick denies the allegations, describing himself as a "political prisoner" who is being framed. But Brazilian police have used the case to banish the notion that their country is a place where fugitives can rest easy.

Misick made a big impact during his six-year tenure in the Turks and Caicos islands, which he ran from 2003 to 2009, overseeing a significant rise in high-end tourism on the islands. But the Misick years also had a darker side: a web of public corruption that was first highlighted by a delegation of British MPs in 2008.

When a team of British lawyers and government officials arrived to investigate, their attention was quickly drawn to Misick, who had declared assets of only US$50,000 ($59,000) when elected in 2003. Five years later he appeared to be living the life of a multi-millionaire, with a mansion on the islands believed to be worth US$16 million and cash flowing in from a large resort development.

A commission convened on the island by Sir Robin Auld, a former British High Court judge, later heard allegations that Misick and other ministers had financed lavish lifestyles by selling Crown land to developers.

Some of the commission's most striking testimony came from Lisa-Raye McCoy, Misick's former wife, an American model. She claimed she was given up to US$200,000 a month for new clothes and was paid US$300,000 by the tourism board - which also came under Misick's remit - to pose in a swimsuit for an advertising campaign. She also alleged that the couple maintained an US$8 million mansion and jetted around the world in a private plane. The marriage later turned sour after it emerged that a Rolls-Royce Phantom he gave her as a birthday present had been hired through her own company, leaving her liable for US$6900 a month in rent.

The corruption scandal - the biggest in Turks and Caicos history - is believed to have left the islands, which have a population of just 31,000, on the verge of bankruptcy, with the British government forced to provide US$260 million in loan guarantees.

After Sir Robin delivered a stinging interim report in 2009, Misick resigned and was last seen on the islands the next year.

With a British-led criminal investigation under way in the Turks and Caicos, his assets had already been frozen. But he still continued to live a "luxurious" life with a new girlfriend in Rio, paid for with a large number of credit cards, sources close to the British investigating team said.

Misick was arrested in December and taken to Rio's notorious Ary Franco prison to await a court hearing. The jail is considered awful, even by Brazilian standards. A UN report described it as "dark, dirty, steamy and cockroach-infested", and recommended its immediate closure.

Misick was briefly bailed in February after a mix-up delayed Britain's extradition application. But he was rearrested last month in Sao Paulo, and is being held at a police station in the city.

When he is eventually returned to his homeland he can expect to face a trial alongside 10 other defendants, mostly other state officials. He faces accusations of embezzling more than US$16 million, corruption and conspiracy.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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