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Were ATL trustees given consent for surplus distribution?

Thursday, March 13, 2014    

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ACTUARY Catherine Lyn testified in the Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) pension fraud case yesterday that accused Catherine Barber had told her, via e-mail, that the trustees had got consent from the founder for the 2008 distribution of surplus.

She gave the evidence during her examination-in-chief that was led by Queen's Counsel RNA Henriques, who leads the prosecution

in the trial before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court.

But what Lyn was told by Barber runs counter to evidence given last year by a PricewaterhouseCoopers auditor that a search had been conducted of Gorstew Limited's files and that no evidence of written consent had been found.

Barber, the former general manager of the scheme; Jeffrey Pyne, former managing director of Gorstew Ltd, the holding company for Gordon 'Butch' Stewart's group of companies; and Patrick Lynch, the former chairman of the pension fund, are alleged to have conspired in the forging of the 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. Pyne, who signed the letters, had left the company seven months before December 15, 2010 when the alleged forgery was discovered.

Yesterday, Lyn testified in her examination-in-chief that, during the preparation of the actuarial report, Barber stated in an e-mail response to her, dated June 14, 2008, that "We confirm that resolutions are on file to substantiate the founder's consent..."

Under cross-examination from attorney John Junor, Lyn -- who is a consultant at Duggan Consulting, which did the actuarial reports for the ATL Group Pension Scheme -- said she took Barber's word that consent had been given for the distribution of the surplus.

"I left it at that," Lyn added.

In the meantime, Senior Magistrate Lorna Shelly-Williams could today or tomorrow give her ruling on an application by the prosecution to have the statement of Gorstew Ltd's secretary, Ken Lewis, entered into evidence under Section 31D of the Evidence Act, on the grounds of his illness. She will also rule on an application by the defence that the case be thrown out if Lewis doesn't come to court and give evidence.

— Paul Henry

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