Ruling on no-case submission in ATL pension fraud case today

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

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THE three former Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) executives on fraud charges in the much-publicised pension case, will know their fate today when Senior Magistrate Lorna Shelly-Williams rules on their no-case submission.

When the trial had its last hearing on May 16, 2014, the magistrate reserved her decision until June 3 following submissions from the legal teams representing both the defence and the prosecution.

The defence argued that the case against the three should be thrown out because the prosecution didn't provide sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations. But Queen's Counsel RNA Henriques countered that the prosecution had proved its case comprehensively and the magistrate had no option but to reject the no-case submission.

Patrick Lynch, the former chairman of the ATL Group Pension Scheme; Catherine Barber, the former general manager of the fund, and Dr Jeffery Pyne, former managing director of Gorstew Ltd, are believed by the prosecution to have conspired in the forging of four letters to deceive that consent was given for the distribution of $1.7 billion from pension fund surplus, from which they benefited.

The prosecution maintains that the letters, which were presented to Gordon 'Butch' Stewart by Barber on December 16, 2010, when he raised a fuss that consent was not given for the distribution, were backdated to 1998, 2002, 2005, and 2008. Pyne, who signed the letters, had left the company seven months before December 15, 2010 when the alleged forgery was discovered. The letters are alleged to have been created between the evening of December 15 and the morning of December 16, 2010.

United States-based forensic document analyst Eric Speckin testified earlier this year that the letters appeared to have been signed at the same time, and that it appeared that an attempt had been made to artificially age the paper on which the letters were typed.

The defence spent most of the 15-month trial hammering away at the business processes at ATL and Stewart, largely ignoring the claims of forgery. For its part, the prosecution has buttressed its arguments with a slew of laws to show that the three former executives had conspired to produce the letters to deceive Stewart and Gorstew.

Queen's Counsel Frank Phipps represents Lynch who is the alleged mastermind behind the forgery; Queen's Counsel K D Knight represents Pyne, and Deborah Martin represents Barber. For the prosecution are Henriques, Garth McBean; Hugh Wildman; Raymond Clough and Miguel Williams.




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