Victory for Michael Prest in  Nevis

Azuka Ogujiuba

In a landmark ruling on February 10, Justice Patrick Thompson Jr in the Caribbean Island of Nevis cleared businessman Michael Prest (brother of former beauty queen, Helen Prest) of all allegations of wrongdoings in the running of his bank.

In Claim No: NEVHCV2021/0099, Justice Thompson quashed the decision of the Nevis’s Regulator of International Banking restricting the activities of Prest’s bank called BONI.

Thus, Prest was successful in his claim for Judicial Review.

Prest, described by Businessweek as one of “The Rich Boys”, also owns Petrodel. He is a protégée of the late King of Oil, Marc Rich.

Prest 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 its Regulator of International Banking, Phil Jones sought to weaponize their position by serving Prest with a Cease and Desist Order and imposed fines on BONI.

Lawyers for Prest argued that neither the Regulator and or Regulator of International Banking had such powers and that they were acting with impunity.

People feel Prest 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.

Another source privy to Prest’s case in Nevis said: “Business and investment have 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.

“It remains unclear, in light of Justice Thompson’s Judgment, whether Miss Sutton or Mr Jones can retain their jobs. Can we be sure they can meet the standard benchmark of being fit and 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.” 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 in the trial by Tim Prudhoe and Jackie Hunkins Taylor.

An August 14 2021 article written about Prest in Nevis stated: “The 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 tonne of brick. 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.

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