Local Attorneys Kondwani Williams, Laurina A. Vidal and Dwight Horsford will come face to face with top US prosecutors involved in the investigation of fraudster Pedro Fort Berbel on Monday. Senior Trial Counsel Wilfredo Fernandez of the US Securities and Exchange Commission will be in Dominica in response to a judge's order to attend a hearing in Roseau at 9:30am. Mr. Fernandez will likely be accompanied by his assistants.
We can speculate that the hearing will most certainly center around the US freezing bank accounts belonging to Mr. Berbel held by Messrs. Williams, Vidal and Horsford. Readers are aware that the US initiated this action to protect its citizens from a Ponzi scheme operated by Berbel. Berbel is being sued in Miami Federal Court by the SEC.
MiTC has come to learn that the family of Mr. Williams is extremely concerned about the situation he has found himself in. Our correspondent Lizzy, who is still on island, reported to us that the family is highly agitated and is concerned about the possible ramifications. Ms. Vidal is said to be nervous as well.
Last month, December 22nd, attorney's representing Berbel in Miami filed a Motion to Dismiss the SEC's case on several grounds including the assertion that the court lacks jurisdiction due to the extraterritorial nature of the transactions involved as stated in the Complaint. The government needed to file a response to this Motion today.
This afternoon, the SEC filed a Request to extend the time needed to respond to the Motion to Dismiss. The Request was filed by Mr. Fernandez, citing some constraints he encountered while preparing his response as well as the judge's order from Dominica.
Mr. Fernandez will be heading to Dominica over the weekend and should be in court early Monday morning. We can expect a number of spectators around the court hoping to get a glimpse of the high stakes drama that will be unfolding in Roseau. We do not know which judge is handling the case but we certainly hope that fairness and rule of law takes precedence in the proceedings.
As you can see, MiTC remains in the forefront in bringing you news that is of concern to all of us. We cannot explain the indifference displayed by the Dominica media when it relates to stories such as this. Mr. Williams' accounts have been frozen for quite a while, and this is well known in Dominica. We do not understand, however, why this remains a secret among the country's press corps. Are these media persons keeping silent just so that they can be part of the "boys club"? Are they afraid of losing access? The fact of the matter is that Roosevelt Skerrit has been able to perpetrate much of his high crimes and misdemeanors because of the silence of the press; or is it complicity? I say it's complicity.
A free press should not be afraid to tell the truth; in fact, our democracy depends on it. Former President Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, is quoted as saying; "No government ought to be without sensors; and where the press is not free no one ever will". Our local press, DBS, Dominica Vibes, Dominica News Online, Kairi News, have all let down our democracy. Our media persons, they too have all let down our democracy. They are just as culpable for the malfeasance of Skerrit and his gang as any member of that gangster squad. They have traded our freedoms for access.
"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security deserves neither liberty nor security". This quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, surely applies to us. We know he was not referring to Dominica, but he might as well have.