Expert found that forged letters were stacked together and signed

BY PAUL HENRY Crime/Court Desk Coordinator henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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EXPERT witness Erich Speckin maintained under cross-examination in the Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) pension fraud case that the four letters purporting to give consent for the distribution of funds from the pension scheme were stacked together and signed.


Speckin maintained his opinion under examination from Queen's Counsel Frank Phipps in the closely watched trial before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court, Half-Way-Tree.


Phipps had asked Speckin if he could tell if heat had been applied to the letters when they were stacked together. But the witness said that he could only opine that the letters were stacked together while being signed.


He had testified previously that Dr Jeffery Pyne's signature were impressed upon letters that were dated in 1998 2002, 2005 and 2008. However, Phipps during his examination of the witness did not question him on his findings that the signature was impressed upon letters that should have been signed years before or after.


Dr Jeffery Pyne, a former managing director of Gorstew Ltd, the holding company for Gordon 'Butch' Stewart's group of companies; Patrick Lynch, the former chairman of the pension fund; and Catherine Barber, former general manager of the fund are believed to have conspired in the forging of four letters to deceive that consent was given for the distribution of $1.7 billion in pension fund surplus.


The prosecution maintains that the letters, which were presented to Stewart by Barber, were backdated to 1998, 2002, 2005, and 2008. Importantly, Pyne, who signed the letters, had left the company seven months before December 15, 2010 when the alleged forgery was discovered. Lynch was the alleged mastermind behind the scheme, the court was told.


Yesterday, Queen's Counsel KD Knight opened his examination-in-chief of Speckin by questioning his college background, asked a few questions about the methods tests he conducted on ink on the letters and the paper on which the letters were written and before, again attempting to attack Speckin's reputation based on the evidence given by the witness in a New York court.


Attorney Hugh Wildman, one of four attorneys appearing for the Crown on a fiat, objected to Knight's line of questions on the ground of relevance, quoting other landmark cases and UK Privy Council rulings.


The case resumes today with Speckin's continued cross-examination by Knight.


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