By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Convicted fraudster, Derek Guise Turner, is set to meet with the Securities Commission of the Bahamas today in a bid to obtain a licence that would allow him to trade his own money, Tribune Business can reveal.
The New Zealand-born Turner, who served an 87-month jail sentence in the US after pleading guilty to federal charges of ‘wire fraud’, was said by sources familiar with developments to be applying for a Proprietary Dealer’s Licence from the Bahamian regulator.
This would only allow him to trade/invest his own money in the markets, not funds belonging to other people, such as retail and institutional investors, Tribune Business understands.
The nature of the application is likely intended to reassure the Securities Commission that Mr Turner will not repeat recent history, but eyebrows would probably be raised - to say the least - if the licence was duly granted given the applicant’s recent history.
Apart from serving jail time in the US, the federal courts in New York also entered a $55 million asset forfeiture Order against Mr Turner, requiring him to surrender cash and other holdings in a bid to compensate clients.
His fraudulent investment scheme was also the subject of a recent Bahamian Court of Appeal ruling, which found that the $8.106 million raised from selling Mr Turner’s former Bahamian assets had been declared the “property” of his local victims - and thus could not be seized by the US Justice Department.
Still, sources close to the matter said the licence application was part of Mr Turner’s efforts to “turn his life around” since being released from US prison and returning to the Bahamas in August 2011.
They added that Mr Turner was trying to fully compensate his victims by repaying 100 per cent of what was owed, and that he was also attempting to recover the Bahamian assets lost subsequent to his conviction in the US courts in 2005-2006.
“He’s trying to turn his life around, and I suppose he’s got to start somewhere,” one source told Tribune Business.
“He’s got this previous conviction in the US, and has got to reassure the Commission, notwithstanding that he’s legitimately trying to turn his life around and deserves a second chance.”
The chances of Mr Turner compensating his victims fully seem slim to non-existent, given that the Australian liquidator for his Turning Group of Companies reported claims of $62.636 million against recovered assets of just $2.769 million - a recovery of just 4.4 cents on the dollar.
Among his Bahamian victims, as previously revealed by Tribune Business, is the family of FNM deputy leader, Loretta Butler-Turner, who are owed $2.75 million by Mr Turner. Another Bahamas-based investor, Peter Davis, is owed $4.7 million.
And Mr Turner will also face a major fight to recover his former Bahamas-based assets. They previously consisted of three properties - Paradise Island Garden Villas A and D, Lot Number 5 Ocean Club Estates, Paradise Island, and Turning House, 700 Bay Street - plus funds held in accounts at Scotiabank (Bahamas).
The three properties have been sold, with the $8.106 million raised currently declared by the Court of Appeal to be the “property” of the Butler family, Mr Davis and other Bahamas-based victims of his earlier scheme.
It is understood, though, that Mr Turner is exploring whether he can reclaim ownership of those properties.
The latter, 700 Bay Street, which was formerly Mohammed Harajchi’s Suisse Security Bank & Trust before Mr Turner acquired it, is now home to Davis & Company, the law firm of Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis.