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Gorstew asks Supreme Court to review ATL pension case verdict

Friday, September 05, 2014    

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GORSTEW Limited has filed an application seeking a judicial review of the no-case ruling which freed three former ATL executives of pension fraud on June 3, 2014.

Senior Resident Magistrate Lorna Shelly Williams made her ruling despite conceding that "she needed more time" to go through the voluminous evidence and that the case "is a work in progress", Gorstew, the holding company for Gordon 'Butch' Stewart's group of companies, said in documents filed last Thursday in the Supreme Court.

The ruling in the Corporate Area Magistrate's Court brought to an end almost 15 months of the ATL Pension fraud trial in which Patrick Lynch, former pension fund chairman; Catherine Barber, former general manager of the fund and Jeffrey Pyne, former managing director of Gorstew, were alleged to have conspired to distribute $1.7 billion from the fund without the consent of the founder.

It was further alleged that the three conspired to forge four letters, backdated to 1998, to deceive that consent was given for the unauthorised distribution from which they benefited in their pension accounts. Pyne had left the company seven months before the alleged forgery.

Hugh Wildman, the former director of public prosecutions in Grenada, filed the notice of application for leave to apply for judicial review, arguing that the magistrate had erred in law.

"After that preamble, had she ruled against the accused, it would be clear grounds for appeal by the defence," Wildman reasoned in explaining his application.

He said the statement by RM Shelly Williams that "she really needed more time to go through the evidence and that it was a work in progress amounts to jurisdictional error on the part of the magistrate, rendering her findings and the subsequent verdict null and void and of no effect".

The Supreme Court is being asked to make a declaration that: "The verdict of the First Respondent (Shelly Williams) is so unreasonable that no tribunal properly directed in law and having considered all the relevant evidence could have arrived at the said verdict...

"This was indeed a lengthy trial which involved several witnesses and based on the Learned Magistrate's reasons she did not refer to and take into account critical evidence for the prosecution...which remained unchallenged."

If the Supreme Court rules in Gorstew's favour, the accused would have to be re-tried by a different magistrate.

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