From Bahamas Luxury To A Prison Cell For 25 years -Sam Bankman-Fried

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Mar. 28, 2024: From luxury living in the Bahamas to a prison cell for 25 years.

Sam Bankman-Fried, once celebrated as a cryptocurrency guru and co-founder of FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange, now faces a starkly different reality. On Thursday, March 28th, he was sentenced to 25 years behind bars for his role in defrauding users of the now-defunct exchange. The sentencing, handed down by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in a Lower Manhattan federal courtroom, marked the culmination of a dramatic downfall for Bankman-Fried.

Barbara Fried and Allan Joseph Bankman, parents of FTX Co-Founder Sam Bankman-Fried, arriving at federal court on March 28, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

 A big part of Bankman-Fried’s journey to criminal court traces back to the $35 million Bahamian property he shared with nine people. FTX was registered in the Bahamas and the Securities Commission of The Bahamas says it seized $3.5 billion worth of cryptocurrency from collapsed crypto exchange FTX in late 2022. FTX was incorporated in Antigua and Barbuda and headquartered in the Bahamas.

During the proceedings, Judge Kaplan rebuffed the defense’s argument, describing it as misleading, logically flawed, and speculative. He also noted Bankman-Fried’s obstruction of justice and witness tampering as aggravating factors in his sentencing decision.

Dressed in a beige jailhouse jumpsuit, Bankman-Fried expressed remorse, acknowledging his “selfish” decisions while leading FTX and the consequential impact on users. “It haunts me every day,” he admitted.

The sentencing follows Bankman-Fried’s conviction on seven criminal counts in November, which stemmed from FTX’s collapse in 2022. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of up to 50 years, while Bankman-Fried’s defense team advocated for no more than 6½ years.

Throughout the trial, Bankman-Fried’s defense argued for leniency, citing his purported mental health struggles and personal generosity. However, prosecutors highlighted the gravity of the crime, emphasizing the significant losses suffered by victims and Bankman-Fried’s apparent lack of remorse.

In a poignant turn, victims shared testimonies detailing the profound emotional and financial toll inflicted by Bankman-Fried’s actions. One victim recounted the devastation of losing life savings, while another spoke of the impact on family and mental health.

Bankman-Fried’s sentence is notably longer than those typically handed down in white-collar crime cases. Comparatively, Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, received about 11 years, while Bernie Ebbers, the former CEO of WorldCom, received 25 years.

FTX, once valued at over $30 billion, collapsed after revelations of a major cash shortfall. Prosecutors alleged that Bankman-Fried embezzled billions from FTX customers to fund various endeavors, including political initiatives and personal investments.

Despite plans to appeal his conviction, Bankman-Fried’s future remains uncertain as he awaits placement in a federal penitentiary designated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Former US President Pledges Support for Stronger Caribbean Region

News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thurs. Mar. 28, 2024: Former US President, Bill Clinton, advocated for greater unity within the Caribbean region during his keynote address at the United Caribbean Forum held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre in Guyana on March 26th.

Organized by the Dominican Republic (DR) Chamber of Commerce Guyana in collaboration with the Government of Guyana, the forum saw Clinton, as Guest of Honour, stressing the importance of Caribbean nations uniting for collective strength.

Highlighting the potential of partnerships between nations and organizations, Clinton expressed hope that collaborations like the one between the Dominican Republic and Guyana would invigorate the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). He emphasized the power of cooperation, stating, “We are almost always stronger together…we are almost always better emphasizing things that make us feel bigger.”

While the Dominican Republic is not a member of CARICOM, Clinton underscored the importance of regional cooperation, suggesting that closer collaboration could foster progress across the Americas. He offered assistance through the Clinton Global Initiative to support efforts aimed at bridging gaps and promoting unity within the region.

President Irfaan Ali echoed Clinton’s sentiments, highlighting the potential for partnership between Guyana and the Dominican Republic to address critical areas such as technology, human resource development, tourism, and food production. He emphasized the need to leverage the DR’s expertise to narrow existing gaps and propel Guyana towards global leadership in various sectors.

The forum, attended by diplomatic representatives including the DR Ambassador to Guyana, the US Ambassador to Guyana, the European Union’s Ambassador to Guyana, and the British High Commissioner to Guyana, served as a platform for discussions on enhancing cooperation and fostering development across the Caribbean region.

Gladys Knight, Seal For This Caribbean Jazz Fest

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Mar. 28, 2024: Gladys Knight and Seal are coming to the Caribbean this summer.

American singer & songwriter Gladys Knight, seen here performing at the Ryman Auditorium on April 25, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee, is set to perform in Curacao this August. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

The top global entertainers are set to perform at the much-anticipated return of the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival. Set against the picturesque backdrop of Piscadera Bay, this three-day extravaganza is scheduled to kick off on Thursday, August 29, marking a triumphant revival after a five-year hiatus.

Joining the ranks of esteemed headliners like Mark Anthony and Nile Rodgers from the legendary disco band CHIC, Gladys Knight and Seal are poised to deliver unforgettable performances, captivating audiences with their timeless hits. From soulful ballads to infectious rhythms, their presence adds a dynamic dimension to the festival’s diverse musical offerings, which span across genres from R&B to Latin.

Heralded as a celebration of both music and the idyllic destination of Curaçao itself, the event promises an immersive experience for attendees. Against a backdrop of swaying palm trees and pristine beaches, festival-goers will have the opportunity to revel in the magic of live music across three stages, basking in the warm Caribbean breeze as they dance the night away.

“We are thrilled to announce the stellar lineup for the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival,” expressed Hugo Clarinda, Deputy Director of Tourism for the Curaçao Tourist Board. “As we mark the festival’s tenth edition, we invite music enthusiasts and travelers alike to join us for an unforgettable weekend filled with world-class entertainment and the vibrant spirit of Curaçao.”

In addition to the musical extravaganza, attendees can indulge in the island’s rich culinary offerings and explore its cultural treasures, making the festival a truly immersive experience. Ticket sales for the Curaçao North Sea Jazz 2024 Festival will commence on April 1, offering music lovers the opportunity to secure their spot at this eagerly awaited event.

As anticipation builds for the return of this iconic festival, Curaçao says it stands ready to welcome visitors from around the globe for a weekend of unparalleled music, entertainment, and Caribbean hospitality.

Caribbean Airlines Unveils “Caribbean Village Cricket”

News Americas, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Thurs., March 28, 2024: Regional airlines, Caribbean Airlines, is set to launch its latest initiative, the “Caribbean Village Cricket” program, aimed at celebrating the vibrant tapestry of Caribbean culture through the sport of cricket.

The announcement comes alongside the unveiling of the airline’s new Instagram page, @ourcaribbeanexperience, as part of its commitment to highlighting the unique essence of the region.

The “Caribbean Village Cricket” program follows the success of Caribbean Airlines’ recent “Culture in D’Park” event during the Trinidad Carnival and is poised to become a cornerstone of its broader Caribbean Culture program, with further components slated for release later this year.

The inaugural matches of “Caribbean Village Cricket” are scheduled to take place in Trinidad across three iconic locations: the Powergen Penal Sports Club, Santa Cruz Sports Association, and the National Cricket Centre in Couva.

The planned dates for the tournament are as follows:

Trinidad  – March 29 – 31

Kingston, Jamaica – April 20

Georgetown, Guyana – April 28

Finals – Queens Park Oval, Trinidad – May 5

CEO of Caribbean Airlines, Garvin Medera, expressed the significance of village cricket within Caribbean culture, emphasizing its role in fostering community spirit and camaraderie. “In the Caribbean, cricket is more than just a sport; it’s a tradition that unites people of all backgrounds and ages,” stated Medera. “The village cricket matches evoke a sense of home and serve as vibrant social gatherings, where families come together to cheer on their local teams, transcending the boundaries of the cricket field.”

Beyond its athletic dimension, cricket serves as a powerful force for unity, instilling a sense of identity and pride within communities. Whether played on the breezy grounds of Guyana or the lush fields of Jamaica, village cricket encapsulates the rich cultural heritage that defines the Caribbean region.

From Wall Street Trader To Film Executive – This Caribbean American Encourages Women To “Embrace Your Evolution.”

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. March 28, 2024: “Women of color in the 21st century have a unique and unprecedented opportunity to constantly evolve. And we owe it to ourselves, our children– especially our daughters– to take advantage of that as much as we possibly can. Hopefully, I can lead by example.”

These are the words of Caribbean American businesswoman Lisa Franklyn-Zaidi, former Wall Street trader and current Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the award-winning film and production company RFSwolf Entertainment LLC.

Caribbean American businesswoman Lisa Franklyn-Zaidi, former Wall Street trader and current Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the award-winning film and production company RFSwolf Entertainment LLC. (Photo courtesy of Zaharah Zaidi.)

Founded in 2004 by Franklyn-Zaidi’s Trinidadian-born business partner, Emmy nominated television and film producer/director Randy Simon, RFSwolf Entertainment is a film and production entity that produces socially relevant content for non-profits and various corporations. Franklyn-Zaidi joined Simon in 2012, and since then the company has expanded its resume to include television reality shows, feature films, art installations such as New York’s African Burial Ground and an Off Broadway musical.

“If you had told me years ago that in 2024, I, someone with a finance background, would be deeply immersed in the entertainment business, managing the production of film, television, and stage projects and pitching them at major festivals, I would’ve sworn you were joking,” says the Columbia University graduate, who pursued a degree in Economics. “But I think my journey proves that you don’t have to be static– ever. There are always other challenges to attempt. And life is most satisfying when you emancipate yourself from mental boundaries and embrace all your possibilities.”

As strong advocates for human rights, racial equality and justice for women and the LGBTQIA community, Franklyn-Zaidi and Simon see their work as not just a job but a responsibility.

“Randy and I truly believe that we can raise awareness, enlighten minds and change hearts with our projects,” commented Franklyn-Zaidi. “And I think that my financial skills, newly acquired production knowledge, and chatterbox personality can blend together and allow me to contribute in very meaningful ways, especially with the list of everything we have coming up in 2024.”

On that list is a reality show featuring a celebrity dentist, the release and distribution of their independent feature film Third Week and a remounting of their 2023 Off Broadway musical, The Duchess Of Les- An AI Musical from Little Ukraine, which enjoyed its world premiere at the Kraine Theatre in the East Village last fall.

The latter two projects are emblematic of the work that Lisa and Randy are most passionate about, where art is used to present new realities to diverse audiences. 

In Third Week, written and directed by Spanish born auteur Jordi Torrent, a young second generation Caribbean-American man tries to rebuild his life after emerging from a three year prison term, using his prison skills to build a place for himself and his community. The film recently had its European premiere at American Film Fest in Madrid and Barcelona, with possibilities for U.S. distribution in the near future.

The Duchess of LES is an LGBTQIA-friendly musical that follows the story of Simon, a young breakdancer, who falls in love with her psychotic brother’s wife. The musical is described as “encapsulating all the broken dreams and grand hopes that make America the country it is, with music that will transport you back to the dance sounds of the 80s, as imagined by AI.”  It is written by Ukrainian playwright Dennis Woychuk. After a solid reception during its run last fall, Lisa, Randy and their team are in negotiations to remount the production later in 2024.

For the original New Yorker who now resides in North Carolina, and yet still maintains her deep “Trini” roots, it has been a winding and unlikely path that has brought her to her current destination. 

She was born in Manhattan to parents of Trinidadian descent, and partially raised in Trinidad for several years by her maternal grandparents. She was four years old when she and her two siblings returned to the United States where her mother, Jacklyne Cecelia Franklyn, a single parent after her divorce from Lisa’s father, made education a top priority for her children. She made huge sacrifices, as Franklyn puts it, to have her children attend private school, where Lisa and her siblings proved to be gifted and talented students. 

While studying at Columbia University, Franklyn reconnected with her high school friend Azeem “Malik” Zaidi, who later became her husband. After graduating, Franklyn worked as a commodities trader and research analyst on Wall Street at established companies including Firebird Capital, Wyndham Group and UBS Securities, eventually becoming a marketing consultant. And yet, at this precise moment, Franklyn-Zaidi elected to become a stay-at-home mom to her brood of three, which eventually grew to what she affectionately calls her “Fantastic Four”– daughter  Zaharah and sons Arshad, Arman and Azahn.

Reflecting on that part of her life now, she says: “It was a hard decision to make. My thought process however, was that I could always come back to a career later on, but my children will only be children now. So I deferred my dreams to give my children the nurturing they deserved. And I stand by that decision to this day.”

Initially, she worked part-time with Simon at RFSwolf while still raising her young family. She handled accounting before slowly entering the creative sphere as a Production Manager and Coordinator for independent films, commercials and several PSAs sponsored by organizations such as the National Park Service and National Institute of Health.

“It’s not the position I thought I’d be in years ago, but if my story proves anything, it’s that evolution is sometimes a welcome, if unexpected thing. You start in one career and wind up merging it with another. Above all else, this century offers women like me the opportunity to keep becoming. And that,” concluded Franklyn-Zaidi, “is a wonderful thing.”

Former US President Hosted By Guyana President

News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, March 26, 2024: Guyana President Irfaan Ali last evening welcomed former US President Bill Clinton, French Minister of the European Union and Foreign Affairs Stéphane Séjourné, and a delegation from the Dominican Republic to a dinner held at State House.

Former US President Bill Clinton, r, with Guyana President Irfaan Ali. (State House image)

The gathering, as highlighted by the Office of the President, focused on discussions aimed at advancing Guyana’s economic development and growth.

President Ali emphasized the timeliness of these visits, underscoring their significance in addressing key economic priorities. Notably, he acknowledged former President Clinton’s longstanding friendship with Guyana and his advocacy for biodiversity and forest conservation amidst the challenges posed by climate change.

Currently, Clinton is in Guyana as the special guest of the Dominican Republic’s Chamber of Commerce Caribbean Forum, which commenced today. President Ali commended this choice, highlighting its role in strengthening bilateral relations and fostering collaboration between the two countries and their private sectors.

The dinner was attended by a distinguished array of guests, including Prime Minister Mark Phillips, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, various government ministers, private sector leaders, and esteemed diplomats such as US Ambassador Nicole Theriot, EU Ambassador Rene van Nes, and British High Commissioner Jane Miller.

Reggae Boyz Triumph Over Panama To Take Third Place in Concacaf Nations League

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. March 25, 2024: Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz secured third place in the Concacaf Nations League Sunday, defeating Panama 1-0 in the consolation play-offs, thanks to Dexter Lembikisa’s impressive first-half goal.

Dexter Lembikisa #2 of Jamaica moves the ball upfield against Andres Andrade #16 of Panama in the first half of the 3rd Place Match of the CONCACAF Nations League Finals at AT&T Stadium on March 24, 2024 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)

This victory at AT&T Stadium in Texas marks their highest finish in the tournament, bouncing back from a previous defeat against the USA.

Lembikisa, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers to Heart of Midlothian, delivered the decisive goal. Looking forward, the team prepares for Copa America, facing Mexico, Ecuador, and Venezuela in the opening round.

Royal Caribbean Suspends Visits To Haitian Resort

News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Mon. March 24, 2024: In response to heightened violence and unrest in the region, Royal Caribbean has halted visits to Labadee, its private resort on Haiti’s northern coast. The decision comes following a travel advisory issued by the U.S. State Department, urging individuals to avoid travel to Haiti and ranking the country at a Level Four advisory, aligning it with nations like Russia, Syria, and Burkina Faso.

People walk past burned bodies and an armed police officer monitoring a street after gang violence in the neighborhood on the evening of March 21, 2024, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 22, 2024. More than 33,000 people fled Port-au-Prince this month as the Haitian capital was overrun by well-armed gangs triggering political chaos in the impoverished Caribbean nation, the United Nations has said. (Photo by CLARENS SIFFROY/AFP via Getty Images)

In a statement reported by, Royal Caribbean announced the temporary suspension of visits to Labadee across its entire fleet, citing an abundance of caution amidst the evolving situation in Haiti. The company emphasized its ongoing monitoring and assessment of the situation in collaboration with its Global Security & Intelligence Team.

Labadee, Haiti.

Notably, Royal Caribbean clarified that neither passengers nor crew members have encountered violence or threats during previous visits to Labadee.

With several ships scheduled to visit Labadee in the upcoming days, Royal Caribbean has opted for alternative arrangements. Instead of docking at Labadee, ships will either spend an additional day at sea or extend their stay at other destinations, such as Falmouth, Jamaica, Nassau in the Bahamas, or Perfect Day at CocoCay, another resort owned by the company.

Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, which itself is under a Level 2 travel advisory, urging visitors to exercise increased caution.

The decision to suspend visits to Labadee follows previous travel advisories issued for Haiti, including a do-not-travel alert in July 2023. The State Department cited concerns over kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and inadequate healthcare infrastructure. Subsequently, in the same month, the U.S. government ordered the evacuation of family members of U.S. government employees and non-emergency personnel from Haiti. Restrictions were also imposed on the movement of American government personnel within the country, limiting their activities to confined areas around the Embassy and imposing curfews and travel restrictions.

Royal Caribbean’s suspension of visits to Labadee underscores the challenges posed by escalating violence and instability in the region, prompting adjustments to ensure the safety and security of its passengers and crew.

Four Caribbean Nations Unite To Set Citizenship Investment Floor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. March 25, 2024: In a significant move towards cooperation and standardization, the leaders of Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Kitts & Nevis have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to align their Citizenship by Investment Programs (CIPs).

This agreement introduces a uniform minimum investment price of USD 200,000; enhances regulatory collaboration, promotes transparency, and establishes a regional authority for oversight.

The initiative aims for full implementation by June 30, marking a pivotal step towards more coordinated economic strategies in the region. Notably, Saint Lucia did not participate in this agreement, sparking discussions about its implications. For more information, details see the IMI – Investment Migration Insider

Caribbean Businesses Embracing Digital Transformation, PwC Survey Reveals

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. March 25, 2024: A PwC Caribbean Digital Readiness Survey 2024 reveals significant strides in digital transformation among Caribbean businesses, emphasizing the critical role of artificial intelligence in driving change.

Nearly half of the businesses report seeing returns on digital investments, with a focus on customer experiences, decision-making, and brand enhancement.

PwC’s Global Hopes and Fears Survey, which finds that the majority of workers do not appear to have clarity on how their job requirements may change. What’s more, workers whose jobs don’t require specialised training appear the least likely to see change coming.

Only 15% of these respondents say the skills required to do their jobs will change in the next five years, compared with 51% of their counterparts whose jobs are more specialised.
Encouragingly, 68% of Caribbean respondents see their leader as a champion for digital transformation. However, only 59% believe their leadership is sufficiently digitally savvy and helps the workforce think in new ways.

When respondents were asked about the barriers to upskilling their workforce, the top three were: Lack of time (40%), lack of budget (36%) and lack of strategic focus on training (28%).

The survey underscores the importance of CEO leadership in digital transformation, the rise in Digital IQ, and the challenges posed by cyber vulnerabilities and legacy systems. It highlights the need for continued investment in digital tools, skills, and infrastructure to maintain competitive advantage and respond to the fast-evolving digital landscape.

For a comprehensive overview, visit PwC’s website​ (PwC)​.