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Seven-minute cross-examination by KD Knight!

Thursday, January 16, 2014    

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DEFENCE lawyer, K D Knight, QC, surprised the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate Court in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew, when after about seven minutes he ended his cross-examination of a prosecution witness, as the ATL pension fraud trial resumed yesterday.

Knight's brevity contrasts sharply with his typical days-long cross-examination of witnesses in the trial that has dragged on from April last year.

Yesterday's session lasted less than an hour and adjourned until January 22, 2013 when an expert witness from the United States is expected to testify about his findings in respect of four letters alleged to have been forged to show that consent was given for the distrbution of $1.7 billion in surplus from the ATL Pension Fund by three former executives.

The letters were allegedly backdated to 1998, 2002, 2005, and 2008 but, according to the prosecution, were signed on December 15, 2010 after ATL chairman, Gordon 'Butch' Stewart had found out about the surplus distributon without consent.

In the shortened morning session yesterday, certified copies of the Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) Pension Scheme trust deed were entered into evidence — important for the prosecution as they attempt to show that consent was needed from Gorstew Ltd, the holding company for Stewart's companies, for the distribution of surplus.

The documents — the 2000 Trust Deed and an amended version of 2001 — were entered into evidence through Cecile Walker-Clarke, an acting director at the Tax Administration of Jamaica who reviews and approves new pension schemes. Her evidence was marshalled by prosecutor Garth McBean. She then faced about four questions from Knight who afterwards wished her a prosperous new year.

Catherine Barber, former general manager of the pension fund; Dr Jeffrey Pyne, a former director of Gorstew; and Patrick Lynch, the former chairman of the pension fund, are believed to have conspired in the forging of the four letters to deceive Gorstew that consent was given for the distribution of the $1.7 billion in pension surplus.

Importantly, Pyne who signed the letters had left the company seven months before December 15, when the alleged forgery was discovered. Lynch was the alleged mastermind behind the scheme, the court was told.

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