Judge accepts submission to speed up fraud trial

By Jonathan Morrison
Observer writer

Friday, September 20, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Parish Judge Ann-Marie Grainger, who is hearing evidence in the Manchester Municipal Corporation multimillion dollar fraud trial, has accepted defence counsel submissions intended to speed up examination of the large volume of documentary evidence to be presented before the court.

The process of matching copies of court documents with the original papers presented by two witnesses who testified at yesterday's sitting at the Porus court in Manchester attracted frequent objections from defence attorney Norman Godfrey who represents three of the eight accused.

At one point in the prosecution's examination of the second of the two witnesses, a paralegal specialist from the National Land Agency (NLA), attorney Danielle Archer, who represents one of the accused, rose to offer a suggestion to speed up the process. She proposed that once it was accepted that disclosure and other legal requirements have been met, the documents of similarity could be segmented and presented in batches for identification and verification. Judge Grainger, the prosecution and defence counsel agreed with the suggestion.

Lead Crown counsel Channa Ormsby from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions identified some 30 documents to be presented and verified at yesterday's sitting. These included land titles, land transfers, documentation related to accounts in US and eurobonds, and documented information that sought to trace, in this instance, the history of financial transactions of the main accused, Sanja Elliott, between January 1, 2008 and September 9, 2016.

Elliott, who is the former deputy superintendent of road and works at the corporation, his wife Tasha Gay Goulbourne Elliott, his mother Myrtle Elliott, his father Edwardo Elliott, former employees of the corporation, director of finance David Harris, works overseer Kindale Roberts, bank employee Radcliffe McLean; and Dwayne Sibblies, an employee of Sanja Elliott, are before the court on charges of forgery, conspiracy to defraud, obtaining money by false pretences and facilitation of the retention of criminal property.

The Crown is alleging that over a three-and-a-half-year period beginning in June 2013 Sanja Elliott, his wife and his parents conducted a series of multimillion-dollar transactions to include the purchase of several properties in Manchester, defrauding the Manchester Municipal Corporation of more than $400 million through the use of fictitious invoices. Investigations led to the others being charged as part of an alleged conspiracy.

The arrests followed a joint raid on the offices of the corporation as well as the homes of some senior employees by members of the Major Organised Crime Anti-Corruption Agency, the Financial Investigation Division and the then Office of the Contractor General which is now subsumed in the Integrity Commission.

The trial, which has been held alternately in Mandeville and Porus, returns to Mandeville today.


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