(Jamaica Gleaner) The government-owned Assets Recovery Agency (ARC) is yet to find any of the millions of dollars in assets which former Tivoli Gardens gangster Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke was supposed to have amassed over the years.
It is believed that Coke built up a multimillion-dollar empire through illegal means. This prompted the ARC to go after his assets, and in January, the Supreme Court gave the ARC the green light to seize Coke’s assets, including those held by his company Presidential Click Promotions.
A Supreme Court judge had granted a request from the ARC for a default judgment to be entered against Coke after he did not respond to the suit to seize his assets.
But last week, Michael Hylton, QC, who is representing the ARC, disclosed that “no significant assets have been identified in his (Coke’s) name”.
The ARC had filed a claim in the Supreme Court in 2010 against Coke, his girlfriend Stephanie Gayle, and his late mother Patricia Halliburton. In addition, the claim was extended to Coke’s former business partner Justin O’Gilvie, his wife Maxine, and two of O’Gilvie’s companies.
However, in December last year, the ARC withdrew the claim against the others, leaving Coke as the sole defendant.
The Supreme Court then gave Gayle and Halliburton permission to pursue a suit against the Government because their assets were frozen for two years.
The ARC had filed a claim against Halliburton and Gayle, contending that the women were sheltering hundreds of millions of dollars in crime proceeds earned by Coke.
COULD NOT PROVIDE PROOF
Attorney-at-law Chukwuemeka Cameron, who represented Gayle and Halliburton, told The Sunday Gleaner after the claim was withdrawn that the State withdrew its action because it could not prove its case of money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The assets belonging to O’Gilvie and his wife were also listed in the claim, but the Government also withdrew the claim against them because it could not prove a case of money laundering.
The ARC had contended that Coke was a shareholder and director in O’Gilvie’s companies, but O’Gilvie produced documents to prove that Coke had no connection with his companies.
The ARC obtained an order in 2010 freezing O’Gilvie’s assets and several motor vehicles were seized. The vehicles were returned after the freezing order was lifted.
Attorney-at-law Paul Beswick, who is representing O’Gilvie, told The Sunday Gleaner that as a result of the freezing order, O’Gilvie lost a lot of revenue. Beswick said requests to the ARC to deal with certain businesses were not complied with.
The attorney said since the freezing order was lifted in December last year, O’Gilvie has filed a suit against the ARC seeking millions of dollars in damages.
Coke is now serving 23 years in prison in the United States (US) after he pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering.
The former strongman was wanted in the US to face narcotics and gun-running charges. He was on the run in Jamaica for several weeks until he was held in June 2010. He waived his right to an extradition hearing and was flown to the US.