Failure by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack to reply to a letter from the prosecutor seeking advice on the way forward in the New Building Society (NBS) $69M fraud case saw the magistrate yesterday give one final adjournment before he makes a ruling.
Special Prosecutor attorney-at-law Sonia Parag told the court yesterday that two weeks ago she had submitted the letter to take a “certain course” in the third preliminary inquiry, which is yet to start. Up to the time of the court proceedings yesterday no response had been received, she said.
Last month, the prosecution closed its arguments in the two other matters, owing to the non-availability of the virtual complainant, who lives abroad.
Parag who is prosecuting the case in association with attorney-at-law Hukumchand said she had delivered that letter along with another and a response had already been received for the second letter.
Magistrate Fazil Azeez then said that he wanted to give all involved adequate time since “if for some reason I discharge all of the accused I don’t want them to be brought back”.
The magistrate added that the case has been before the court since October 2007, before pointing out that the accused have their lives to carry on with and they have to deal with the stigma that is now attached to them.
“It [the case] has engaged the court system for a long period of time and I want to be fair,” Magistrate Azeez said.
He said he had spoken with one of the defence counsel in the case the previous day, stating that if there was no word from the DPP he would give a short adjournment to let her know there was a need for urgency in her response to the letter.
The magistrate then announced that on November 26, he would give his decision, “whether we hear from the DPP or not”.
Five of the defendants were in court yesterday. Former director-secretary Maurice Arjoon, former assistant mortgage manager Kissoon Baldeo and former operations manager Kent Vincent along with Ashley Legall, Imran Bacchus, Amarita Prashad and Mohanram Shahebudin are charged with conspiracy to defraud the NBS of $69 million.
The monies were reportedly removed from a Savings and Prosper account in the name of Bibi Khan on four separate occasions using cheques.
Lawyers for the managers had filed a motion in the High Court before Justice Jainarayan Singh Jr, asking that the court prohibit the DPP, the Commissioner of Police or any of his servants from reinstituting any new charges against them.
The High Court matter, which was brought by Arjoon, Vincent and Baldeo had earlier delayed the progress of the PI for some time, was subsequently withdrawn.
In early 2009, the then presiding Magistrate Nyasha Williams-Hatmin discharged one of the matters on the basis that there was not sufficient evidence to proceed.
She was later transferred to another division and this caused a hold up in the progress of the matter. Magistrate Azeez was then assigned to her court and during one of the hearings the team of lawyers representing the defendants during submissions had sought to halt the case owing to the absence of the complainant.
A decision was then made to start two of the remaining matters simultaneously in the interest of time.