The final preliminary inquiry into the $69 million New Building Society (NBS) fraud will commence before acting Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry on February 17 next year.
This development came after the then presiding Magistrate Fazil Azeez on Monday recused himself from the case, after describing a recent article in this newspaper on the matter as “inaccurate, distorted and a form of irresponsible journalism.” He had later said that he was sending the matter to the acting Chief Magistrate for reassignment.
When the matter was called on Wednesday morning, the five defendants, Kissoon Baldeo, Kent Vincent, Ashley Legall, Imran Bacchus and Mohanram Shahebudin were present. Special prosecutor Hukumchand asked the court for a date to commence the PI. Abiola Wong-Inniss was the only defence lawyer present at the time of the hearing.
On four occasions in November 2006, it is alleged that $69 million was withdrawn from the account of Bibi Khan by way of cheques. The five defendants along with former Director/Secretary Maurice Arjoon and Amarita Prashad were subsequently charged. Arjoon and Prashad walked out of court free of any connection to the case after two charges against them were discharged due to insufficient evidence.