Pandit accused of fraud

-lawyer says charge is part of friend’s attempt to break agreement

A Pandit yesterday found himself before a city court facing a charge that he fraudulently converted US$8,000 that was entrusted to him.

Krishnalall Persaud was released on $125,000 bail after he denied the offence and his lawyer argued that he had been the victim of a “preemptive strike” by the complainant in order to get out of an agreement between the two men.

The charge against Persaud, which was read by Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, states that between July 1 and July 31, 2014, being solely entrusted with US$8,000 to keep and return to Mavlankar Nohar, he fraudulently converted it to his own use and benefit.

Attorney Jerome Khan represented Persaud at yesterday’s hearing and he told the court that his client and the complainant had shared a long friendship. He said when Nohar migrated from the United States, he had stayed at Persaud’s home for an entire year and he promised to reimburse Persaud for his stay. But when Nohar was asked for the promised reimbursement, Khan said, the man questioned Persaud about the US$8,000, which he claimed his client had no knowledge of.

Khan referred to the action of the complainant as a “preemptive strike” by Nohar not to live up to an agreement made between the two men. He further opined that if Persaud was guilty of the charge levelled against him, he would have attempted to privately settle the matter and avoid the public humiliation.

Persaud, the lawyer said, is married and has four children. The attorney stressed that Persaud is the leader of a congregation and since his arrest, he fully cooperated with the police after he was placed on $40,000 station bail. He had no criminal record, he added.

While pleading with the court to consider lenient bail for his client, Khan noted that Persaud has a permanent address and poses no risk of flight. Given that Persaud’s reputation was at stake, Khan said the religious leader is determined to maintain his stellar reputation and will not flee the court’s jurisdiction.

However, Prosecutor Michael Grant objected to bail, citing the nature of the offence and the amount of money which was involved. But his objection was overruled and Persaud was released on $125,000 bail on the condition that he report fortnightly to the officer in charge of the crime squad at Brickdam.

The matter was adjourned to April 1.

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