T&T national security minister before US civil court on fraud charge

(Trinidad Guardian) In the face of allegations of fraud and misconduct before a US Supreme Court against him, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon doesn’t believe he needs to step down although he values his integrity.Dillon yesterday admitted he is a party in a civil matter in the New York Supreme Court, in which he is accused of defrauding an elderly man, Neville Piper, of a valuable condominium in Manhattan. Piper was originally from La Brea before migrating to New York. The documents also point to several cash and bank transactions, including a US$5,000 cheque made out to Dillon’s name.

Edmund Dillon

Addressing the media at the Ministry of National Security, Port-of-Spain, Dillon, 62, said he knew Piper for over 45 years and he was “almost like an uncle.” He said their relationship grew stronger over the years to a point where he stayed at Piper’s apartment whenever he travelled to New York and also served as Piper’s “driver” when he came to Trinidad for vacation. He said he called Piper almost every day for friendly conversation, including to discuss T&T and US politics.Dillon said he was gifted with Piper’s apartment last year after he (referring to Piper) insisted that he accept.

“I accepted a gift of the remainder interest in an apartment after his death. The effectiveness is given to me through well-established attorneys of law in the United States in the presence of witnesses.”

But Dillon’s statement appears to contradict the information contained in the documents submitted to the US court, in which Piper claims not to have any recollection of having given such interest in his apartment to Dillon. In a general response regarding the allegations made against him, Dillon said there are two sides to the story and his side “will not be known until such time as required by law to do so.”They are only allegations until proven otherwise and the matter is still pending before the court,” he said.Asked if he spoke to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley about the matter, Dillon said yes but did not go into the details. He did not say whether he was asked to step down or not, or whether he believes he should step aside while the matter is determined.

“I prefer not to go into details of the conversation. It is confidential,” Dillon said.

Asked if he did not see stepping down as a means of keeping his integrity intact, Dillon said, “I value my integrity at all costs and I would have to prove my integrity as the case stands right now.”Asked if he was aware Cabinet members contacted the Piper family to keep the matter quiet, Dillon said he was not.However, he reiterated that he did not take advantage of Piper.Piper’s niece, Esther Nicholls, has made an application for the appointment of a guardian for the property, in which it is alleged that based on a power of attorney, a transfer of an undivided 50 per cent interest in Piper’s condominium was made by Piper to Dillon on August 21, 2017, but that Piper lacked the capacity to make such transfer validity.

Further, it claimed the purported signature of Piper on the deed and transfer documents were not his and he denied any knowledge of the transaction. It adds that Piper also had no attorney and no guardian for said transaction, that there were several large transfers and withdrawals from Piper’s account, which is inconsistent, uncharacteristic and contrary to his history, practice and norm and that Piper may have been the victim of elder financial abuse, exploitation and fraud.”

The court evaluator’s report states that Piper, who is now at a home, does not recall any visits by his family members and would not know them if he had seen them.The court has ordered that until the proceedings are concluded, Dillon is prohibited and restrained from transferring any interest in the New York condominium, including any interest which Dillon may claim pursuant to the deed related to the property.

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