A Victory for Michael Prest….

In a landmark court ruling Honorable Justice Patrick Thompson Jr on Friday 10th February, handed down a ruling in favour of Michael Prest, which has sent seismic shock in the financial services industry in the Caribbean Island of Nevis. In Claim No: NEVHCV2021/0099, Justice Thompson awarded Prest an Order for certiorari quashing the decision of the Regulator of International Banking to issue the letter dated June 23rd 2021 seeking to restrict Prest and ordered that Prest was entitled to a declaration that the Regulator of International Banking had no authority to restrict the activities of Prest’s company, Petrodel.

Thus Prest was successful in his claim for Judicial Review
Prest, described by Businessweek as one of “The Rich Boys” , was a protégée of the late King of Oil, Marc Rich. He has had a home in Nevis since 1996. He is the owner of Bank of Nevis International Limited(“BONI”) and one of the largest employers of the small Idyllic Caribbean Island.

In June 2021, the Island’s Regulator Heidi Lynn Sutton and it’s Regulator of International Banking, Phil Jones sought to weaponize their position by serving Prest with a Cease & Desist Order and imposed fines on BONI.
Lawyers for Prest argued that neither the Regulator and or Regulator of International Banking had such powers. They were acting with impunity.

“All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely” – Lord Acton
An August 14 2021 article written about Prest reported “ You can tell that his brain is always working. Every action and everything that he says; every move is well thought out and well calibrated. He does more observing and listening than speaking. The toughest negotiator the oil industry produced.

You go up against him, and when you think that he has backed off, is when he comes on like a ton of bricks. He grinds his opponents into submission. He goes quiet on you, behaving as though he has a hundred years to spare, then out of the blue, he attacks,”
It seems the Regulators may have missed that article.

People feel Prest felt had no choice but to stand up to Public Officers acting with impunity.

A source says Prest feels the judgement is a victory for everyone who’s ever been set upon by a baying mob or pushed around but didn’t have the means to defend themselves.

Investors Business and investment has a choice. If Public Officers decide not to follow the Rule of Law and or Due Process, it augurs very bad for small Islands states seeking international investors and investment.

Investors want to feel that they are protected, that their investment is protected and there is respect for Due Process and the sanctity of commercial contracts entered into freely by consenting parties.

Fit & Proper
It remains unclear, in light of Honourable Justice Thompson Judgment, whether Miss Sutton or Mr Jones can retain their jobs. Can we be sure they can meet the standard benchmark of being fit & proper?

“They’ve clearly lost all credibility and I can’t imagine them going to international conferences to represent Nevis financial services sector without other banking professionals and service providers, calling them out” a source said. The decision on whether they stay, will be determined by Premier Mark Brantley. Whether they can represent what’s good in St Kitts & Nevis (and there is a lot) is a matter for new Prime Minister Dr Drew.

Prest and BONI were represented by Tim Prudhoe and Jackie Hunkins Taylor.

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