BELIZE CITY–Two Bahamian offshore bankers, Kevin Leach, 34, and Rohn Knowles, 29, who have been named in a United States federal indictment and who were remanded to the Belize Central Prison on a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) charge, were supposed to appear in court today for a bail application filed by their attorneys.
The men were scheduled to appear before Supreme Court Justice Dennis Hanomansingh, but when the court convened shortly before 10:00 a.m., only their attorneys and the government Solicitor General were in court.
Justice Dennis Hanomansingh inquired about the two men’s whereabouts, but no one in court could give a satisfactory answer.
Hanomansingh said, “It is their application. They need to be in court to hear it.”
The absence of the bail applicants prompted the judge to adjourn the hearing for a few minutes, so that the court could determine the whereabouts of the men, who were supposed to have been brought from prison.
As it turned out, there was some confusion surrounding the removal order that mandated the transfer of the men from the prison to court, and they were never brought to the courtroom, which was filled with reporters and members of the men’s families.
Outside the court, attorney Godfrey Smith, S.C., explained to reporters what had transpired.
Smith said that the matter was adjourned until Monday, September 29, because, in addition to the fact that neither of the two men had been brought from the Kolbe-managed prison, “the other side asked for more time to be able to respond to [the defense’s] written submissions.”
When asked if there has been a formal extradition request from the U.S. for his clients, Smith said, “Our information from government council is that no formal application for extradition has been made to the Government of Belize.”
On the question of the possibility of the men absconding from the jurisdiction once they are granted bail, attorney Eamon Courtneay, S.C., said, “Our instructions are very clear that our clients have no intention of leaving this jurisdiction or intention of fleeing. In order to deny them their freedom, I think there has to be sufficient evidence of a risk of absconding.”
On Friday, September 12, Levin Leach and Rhon Knowles were spotted at the Philip Goldson International Airport about to board a chartered plane bound for Cancun, Mexico.
They were apprehended and the FIU booked them on a charge of failure to declare funds when leaving Belize.
The following Monday, they appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano, who granted them bail. Before they could access the bail and leave the courtroom, however, police detained them on the ground that there was a pending extradition request for them from the U.S.
The two former offshore bankers have been accused by U.S. authorities of being involved in a scheme which enabled approximately 100 US clients to defraud the US government of around $500 million in taxes. The men were employed at the offshore company Titan International Securities, which was located on the 5th floor of the Matalon Building on Coney Drive, in Belize City.