Magistrate Nyasha Williams-Hatmin last week ruled that separate preliminary inquiries (PIs) will be held in each of the four conspiracy-to-defraud charges against the three former top New Building Society (NBS) managers.
Those matters along with the new ones in which those very managers and four others were charged jointly with the same offences already before the court continued last week at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court.
For the old charges, all three of the defendants were present in court. At the beginning of the proceedings special prosecutor, attorney-at-law Hukumchand submitted to the court that he did not want to proceed with those charges until a related High Court matter was finished.
Earlier this month, lawyers for two of the managers filed a motion in the High Court before Justice Jainarayan Singh Jr asking that the court prohibit the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Commissioner of Police or any of his servants from reinstituting any new charges against the trio. The matter is still ongoing.
Defence counsel Anil Nandlall, who is representing Kissoon Baldeo and Maurice Arjoon, objected to Hukumchand’s submission saying that the institution of the civil proceedings in the High Court could not in anyway prevent the pending charges against the trio from proceeding.
Nandlall said that “the proceeding in the High Court was designed and intended to specifically prevent any delay of the pending charges.”
He submitted to the court that these new charges would have meant that the pending charges would either have to be put on hold or be withdrawn.
Meanwhile attorney-at-law Basil Williams on behalf of his client Kent Vincent said that this entire situation in the High Court is preventing his client from proving his innocence.
“They (the three) will not be able to prove this until the High Court matter is finished. Until then they cannot proceed,” Williams said.
According to him the trio will be at the same point in two to three years. “If we proceed with this matter and the High Court later rules in favour of the DPP then it makes no sense,” he argued.
Williams opined that either one of two things can be done – the application in the High Court be withdrawn or the institution of the new charges be allowed.
“There is no evidence against us. We don’t care about the obstacle they have put in front of us. We are ready to proceed.”
Hukumchand later submitted that this delay in the case has not been caused by the prosecution but by two of the defendants.
He said that prior to this delay (the matter filed in the High Court), the prosecution had intended to take a certain course of action but this cannot be done until the High Court matter is determined.
Meanwhile De Santos in adding to the arguments explained that the order in the High Court was not designed to stop the proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court. He questioned how Hukumchand could be saying that because of the application the case cannot go forward.
He asked the court to refuse the application made by Hukumchand for an adjournment because of the High Court matter.
The court was told that the defence was prepared on that occasion to continue with the preliminary inquiry which had started several weeks ago but Hukumchand indicated that he wasn’t in a position to proceed.
After listening to the lengthy arguments from all the parties involved, Magistrate Williams-Hatmin announced that there will be four separate PIs and the one involving Arjune and Vincent will be the first.
She then adjourned the matter to November 13 for a decision on the order of the other three and for continuation of the PI into the first case to be heard.
This case involves Maurice Arjoon of 1-2 La Fleur Road, Eccles (Director-Secretary); Kissoon Baldeo, 38, of 86 Zeeburg, West Coast Demerara (Assistant Mortgage Manager) and Kent Vincent of 1247 Canje Pheasant Lane, South Ruimveldt (Operations Manager) who are accused of conspiracy to defraud the NBS of $69M.
Meanwhile, the new case involving the three managers and four others has been adjourned to November 13 as well.
Because the three managers were not present on the last occasion, the charges were read to them. They were sent away on their own recognizance.
Hukumchand later made an application for several vehicles owned by one of the accused, Mohanram Shahebudin to be seized. He submitted that it is the belief of the prosecution that these vehicles were proceeds from the commission of the conspiracy.
However, Shahebudin’s lawyer Roysdale Forde produced a motion which directs the Commissioner of Police and his officers to show cause why the cars were seized.
He described Hukumchand’s application as “a complete stillbirth.”
Ashley Legall, 59, Imran Bacchus, Amarita Prashad, 18, and Shahebudin make up the four who have now been embroiled in the conspiracy to defraud case.
They appeared before Magistrate Gordon Gilhuys on October 12 on charges, some of which they shared with the three former managers. They were remanded to prison but were later successful in getting bail in the High Court.