BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Wednesday May 15, 2019 – The Greek billionaire who is heir to the Coca Cola fortune yesterday left St Kitts and Nevis where he is facing drug charges, but not before warning Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris that he and his government would be slapped with a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit over the arrest.
Alkiviades ‘Alki’ David flew out of the twin-island federation after paying the EC$300,000 (US$111,010) bail imposed on him when he appeared in court yesterday, charged with possession, intent to supply, and importation of $1.3 million worth of cannabis.
The charges were laid after an investigation into the discovery of cannabis on his private jet when he arrived at the Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw International Airport last Tuesday, along with American businessman Chase Ergen with whom he is in a cannabis business venture. Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers and his family had also been travelling with David and Ergen.
The 51-year-old billionaire was arrested by members of the Anti-Narcotics Unit at the airport when he tried to leave last Thursday, and he was subsequently charged. He was initially granted EC$30,000 (US$11,101) bail and ordered to surrender all travel documents and report to the police station daily.
When David appeared in court yesterday, the bail amount was increased to the EC$300,000 (US$111,010) but his travel documents were returned to him and he was free to leave the country. He must return for another court appearance on September 23.
Before his court appearance yesterday, David had gone on a profanity-laced social media tirade. In one of the videos he posted, he shook a clenched fist and, in a comment directed at the Prime Minister, said: “Mr Harris, PM, you’re going to get a fisting, baby. Literally a legal fisting like no other. Stand by.”
He is insisting that the plants he had on his plane were hemp and were related to his plans for a new legal cannabis business in St Kitts and other parts of the region. He and Ergen had announced last month that they had formed a consortium which specializes in cannabidiol (CBD) medicines and they hoped to develop the legal cannabis market in Eastern Caribbean countries including St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda.
In the press release on April 30 when the formation of the consortium was announced, it was stated that the first plane load of hemp seed for a designated parcel of land totaling 300 acres would arrive on Thursday, May 2.
On Monday, at a press conference at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort where he used strong and sometimes foul language, David said the plants and seeds had been declared to Customs and other relevant government agencies prior to his arrival, in accordance with local procedure, and he insisted that after exhaustive testing nothing illegal was found.
And he made clear his intention to take legal action, as he suggested that Prime Minister Harris was behind his arrest, following a meeting he had with him on Sunday at the Park Hyatt Hotel.
“It was a very civil meeting, very polite meeting, I sat down opposite him. It was very, very nice; we sat and talked for 15 minutes. I left. I was being asked to do something I didn’t want to do, so I left. Chase [Ergen] went in and started having conversation with him. A bunch of witnesses who work there saw his guards pick Chase up and take him out, and the next thing you know he’s being arrested for drugs, for cocaine, which is Ketamine, which is his medicine that has been taken away from him and he’s now languishing in jail,” David said on Monday. Ergen was subsequently released without charge.
“So let me tell you, Mr Harris, what’s gonna go down. There are three lawyers here from the UK and they’re gonna take you down, Sir; you don’t do that to me or to my friend.”
“What he’s done is illegal, it’s wrong and it’s unconscionable. I took on four of the biggest companies in the United States and I beat them after seven years of lawsuits, just out of principle, nothing else, because they called me a liar. Mr Harris here has a whole new thing coming at him,” David added.
A statement from David’s company, Swissx – a cannabis and CBD business based in Gstaad, Switzerland – said the lawsuits against Harris and the government would be filed in St Kitts this week.
Asked to elaborate on his claim that talks with Harris broke down after the Prime Minister asked him to do something he did not wish to do, David declined to do so at the advice of members of his legal team who were in the back of the room where the press conference was being held.
When David and Ergen announced the formation of their consortium last month, they said their plans included purchasing agricultural land and partnering with farmers to create a cooperative entity modelled after the ones in Switzerland. At that time they said the consortium had already had its first meetings with business and government leaders across the region and would be expanding its outreach this month.
They added that the consortium would create thousands of jobs and also tap into the rich cultural history and cannabis know-how of the strengthening Rastafarian movement in the region.
“The Eastern Caribbean is in perfect position as cannabis shifts from being an illegal $400 billion business globally to a legal one worth ten times that. It will be the Silicon Valley of cannabis, the Wall Street, the Hollywood,” David had said. “Ultimately we are bringing cannabis back to its birthplace.”
Ergen had added: “St. Kitts-Nevis and its neighbours are ideally situated to produce the highest quality CBD in the world. We have no doubt we will be able to double their GDPs within a matter of years as the region takes its rightful place in a market that is literally changing people’s lives.”