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SSP Bailey saw no evidence of consent in ATL pension distribution

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

Friday, February 21, 2014    

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THE senior police officer who led the probe into a report of fraud by three former Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) executives, told the court yesterday that no evidence of consent was found for the distribution of surplus from the company's pension fund.

Senior Superintendent of Police Fitz Bailey gave the evidence yesterday while being cross-examined by Queen's Counsel Frank Phipps in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court, in Half-Way-Tree.

"There was nothing in my investigation that showed that consent was given in writing or orally," said Bailey who headed the Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID) during the probe in 2011.

Phipps said he had also checked with the relevant company minutes and no evidence of consent was found.

The senior police officer said that his understanding is that consent must be given by the founder, Gorstew Ltd, the holding company for chairman Gordon 'Butch' Stewart's companies, before distribution of surplus could be made.

Earlier, Bailey, who now heads the St Andrew Central Police Division, explained to Phipps that he was conducting an investigation into the misappropriation of funds, which was reported by Stewart.

Challenged on the misappropriation classification, Bailey said the term was broad. "That no consent was given I consider that a misappropriation of funds. There were reports that I saw that also spoke to it," he said.

During the questioning, Phipps suggested that special treatment was given to the case given the fact that the three suspects were arrested four months after the initial report was made in December 2010. However, Bailey denied this and rejected a suggestion from Phipps that a proper investigation wasn't conducted into the allegation of fraud.

Phipps is to continue his cross-examination of Bailey when the case resumes before Senior Resident Magistrate Lorna Shelly-Williams on March 10.

Patrick Lynch, the former chairman of the pension fund; Dr Jeffery Pyne, a former director of Gorstew Ltd; ; 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.

Also yesterday, actuary Aston Duggan completed his time in the witness box, which made way for Phipps to cross-examine Bailey. The prosecution said it has three witnesses to call. It is also to make an application for the statement of a fourth witness to be read into evidence as that witness is not well and may not be able to attend court.

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