Lord Ashcroft’s reputation may be at risk after his daughter-in-law, Jasmine Hartin, was taken in for questioning by Belize law enforcement agents. The British multibillionaire is a huge name, and although local officials insist his influence will not factor into the investigation of Henry Jemmott’s death, his status does raise several red flags.
Michael Ashcroft is a businessman, politician, and staunch supporter of the U.K.’s conservative party. He served as the Treasurer and Deputy Chairman of the party for years, while simultaneously climbing the financial ranks within the U.K. He is currently one of the top 100 richest people in the U.K. with an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion.
Ashcroft’s claim to fame is his purchasing and subsequent flipping of numerous companies including the home security company ADT. Having purchased a majority share in the company in 1987, the tycoon flipped the business a decade later for $6.7 billion, those proceeds accounting for a majority of his current fortune.
Lord Ashcroft uses a sizeable chunk of that fortune to invest in Belize, a nation on the eastern coast of Central America. He served as the Belizean Ambassador to the United Nations from 1998 to 2000 and has demonstrated a keen interest in the political and social structure of the country. He holds dual citizenship in both Britain and Belize, with strong ties to local businesses within the commonwealth country.
In his 2005 biography, Michael Ashcroft admitted that Belize is of great interest to him and his fortune, especially because he has been “exempt from certain taxes for 30 years.” It’s no surprise that his connection with Belize has raised eyebrows, especially since his daughter-in-law, the current wife of his son, Andrew Ashcroft, is suspected of killing a local law enforcement official.
What most people worry about is that Ashcroft’s wealth is currently greater than the entire GDP of Belize, marking him as a difficult opponent. Spectators are wondering whether Jasmine Hartin will receive a fair trial, or whether Ashcroft’s influence will affect the honest outcome of the investigation.
Though new information is scarce, the shocking Belize arrest has left many unsettled. Superintendent Henry Jemmott was a high-ranking police official in Belize, and both he and Hartin were fraternizing the night of his death. A single shot rang out shortly after Hartin and Jemmott were seen walking together on a pier in San Pedro, and police have yet to rule out any possibility, including suicide, accident, or even murder.
Hartin is currently being held by law enforcement agents, and she is being “treated as the killer” until she provides an “explanation,” according to investigators. Police have uncovered valuable information leading up to Jemmott’s death, but have yet to conclude whether the discharge from the officer’s firearm was accidental or on purpose.
When police arrived on the scene, Hartin was reportedly “deeply distressed and shaking,” blood covering her clothes and skin. “She stated that she needed to have her attorney present in order for her to say what she needs to say, and it’s her right by virtue of the constitution, but that raises a red flag,” according to Commissioner Chester Williams, and “The situation is such that it does require an explanation from her. In the absence of an explanation then she would have to be treated as the killer and we will proceed accordingly.”
Though reporters questioned Williams regarding Hartin’s relationship to Lord Ashcroft and his son, Andrew Ashcroft, the commissioner explained that “we must investigate this matter and the chips may fall where they may,” including the possibility that Hartin murdered Jemmott.
“Someone is responsible for his death,” Williams said, admitting that “we owe it to him to ensure that we investigate properly and bring that person or those persons to justice. I can emphatically state that I have not received any calls from anybody above me directing that we deal with the matter in one way or the other.”
Lord Ashcroft may have a massive influence in Belize, but from what Commissioner Williams has said, if Hartin is guilty her father-in-law will not have a significant influence.