US extradition of resident sought over flea product fraud

Chief magistrate refuses bail, next mention Feb. 1

Rum Point resident Iain Nigel MacKellar was remanded in custody Wednesday to await a hearing to determine if he will be extradited to the U.S.

Mr. MacKellar was named with three other people on an indictment issued in Texas that alleges fraud involving a veterinary product for fleas. One of the charges relates to “reboxed pet products not manufactured and approved for sale in the United States.”

Defense counsel Ben Tonner shared a document from Mr. MacKellar’s U.S. attorney, who described the central allegation in the case as buying a genuine flea product for sale in a non-U.S. market and then repackaging it in “counterfeit” boxes for the U.S. The product was chemically identical and only the box was different, Mr. Tonner said.

“The consumer would receive the right medicine regardless of who made the box,” he argued.

He suggested that if these acts were prosecuted in Cayman, they would almost certainly fall under the Merchandise Marks Law, for which sentences could be custodial or non-custodial. Mr. MacKellar would be entitled to bail and would get bail, the attorney submitted.

When Mr. MacKellar became aware of the indictment he was not in the U.S. and so he engaged attorneys there, but considered he had not done anything wrong, Mr. Tonner said.

Mr. MacKellar, 60, is a U.K. citizen. Mr. Tonner said the defendant has been a permanent resident in Cayman since 2007. A professional man, he has no previous convictions and had led a law-abiding life here. The attorney said bail conditions could include curfew and an electronic monitor.

Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards objected. She said the offending alleged was on a large-scale, extending from 2008 to the present and generating large amounts of funds. She pointed out that the indictment against Mr. MacKellar included charges of conspiracy, smuggling and obtaining by deception, which in Cayman attracted sentences between five and 20 years.

Mr. MacKellar was arrested at his home on Friday and brought to court on Saturday, when he was represented by another attorney and the matter put over. Mr. MacKellar had stated he would not voluntarily surrender to U.S. authorities, Ms. Richards noted.

Chief Magistrate Nova Hall agreed the defendant had every right to fight the allegations and was not obliged to assist the prosecution. She ruled against bail because she was not persuaded that any conditions would be sufficient to keep him here for an extradition hearing.

The next mention was set for Feb. 1, with counsel for both sides exchanging submissions before then.