News

New hope for Cash Plus depositors?

BY PAUL HENRY Crime/Court coordinator henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, March 05, 2013    

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A disclosure in the Home Circuit Court regarding the failed billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, Cash Plus, could renew hope among disgruntled depositors for some form of restitution from Carlos Hill, the scheme's former boss.

Yesterday, before the scheduled start of Hill's fraud trial in the Home Circuit Court, attorney Hugh Wildman asked for an adjournment of the criminal proceedings in order to verify a recent development, which he said could "benefit depositors".

Wildman — a former Trustee in Bankruptcy of the scheme who had been chasing Cash Plus assets on behalf of depositors — told the court that he has now been retained by Hill to assist in the liquidation process.

"My instructions are that there have been some developments of late, stemming from an ongoing process which should result in the depositors of the scheme in question being in a position to benefit," Wildman said in an application asking for an adjournment to Hill's fraud trial.

Wildman said that the development "should have a significant bearing" on the trial.

Hill — dressed in a dark pinstriped suit and sporting a clean-shaven head, his rimless glasses perched on his nose — sat and listened attentively as Wildman spoke.

Hill is charged with fraudulently inducing people to invest and fraudulently attempting to induce people to invest, stemming from allegations that he coerced persons to invest in his billion-dollar alternative investment scheme. Hill operated the scheme for five years before its collapse in 2008.

If convicted, Hill, who is on $15-million bail, could be sentenced to seven years in prison.

Yesterday, attorney Valerie Neita-Robertson, who appears along with Deborah Martin for Hill in the criminal matter, told the court that she had been apprised of the development of which Wildman spoke. She told the court that it would be to the benefit of depositors for the matter to be postponed.

The matter was subsequently set for next week Monday on the condition that Director of Public Prosecution Paula Llewellyn, QC, be provided, by Wednesday, with proof that the development spoken of was not just "a pie in the sky".

Llewellyn was clear that the prosecution is prepared to proceed with the trial.

Hill is also facing several multimillion-dollar lawsuits from investors in the scheme.

Investors have on numerous occasions been given hope, with various pronouncements, that there would soon be restitution, but they never materialised.

Along with the Home Circuit Court matter, Hill and his brother Bertram and former Cash Plus executive Peter Wilson are facing prosecution in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court in relation to the scheme.

They are to be tried in the Resident Magistrate's Court on charges of obtaining money by false pretence, conspiracy to defraud and fraudulent conversion.

The three men were arrested and charged in April 2008 following complaints by several investors in the unregulated investment scheme.

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