Alliance bosses cut plea dealFriday, January 14, 2022
BY DAVID ROSE
Alliance Finance Limited (AFL) pleaded guilty to eight breaches of the Banking Services Act (BSA) and 28 breaches under the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Act in the St Andrew Parish Court yesterday.
The financial company was formed in 2012 to provide insurance premium financing to corporate and retail customers through working arrangements with several licensed insurance brokers. However, the company was charged along with its principals Peter and Robert Chin last month relating to more than 20 foreign currency loans totalling approximately US$8 million ($1.24 billion) between 2014 - 2017. This was in contravention of the BSA and BOJ Acts, which require one to be an authorised dealer and have a licence to lend foreign currency and accept deposits. Breaches for the BSA Act carry fines up to $3 million while breaches of the BOJ act carry fines between $50,000 to $100,000.
In a plea arrangement with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Chin brothers escaped prosecution with the charges to be withdrawn at the sentencing set for March 3. Senior Parish Judge Lori-Ann Cole-Montague approved the motion after recess with the prosecution led by Donnette Henriques and defence counsel Tom Tavares-Finson, Sean-Christopher Castle and Marcus Moore.
Tavares-Finson indicated that subpoenas may go out requesting the presence of BOJ Governor Richard Byles, chief technical director of the Financial Investigations Division (FID) Selvin Hay and Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke. He pointed that this is in relation to Section 22 of the BOJ Act and the role the various individuals could play at sentencing.
“The prosecution has indicated that on the third of March, at the sentence hearing, the prosecution will discontinue the cases against them individually. On that day, we'll determine if the subpoenas will go out if we require them. In the interim, I'll be dealing with the DPP's department in relation to the POCA [Proceeds Of Crime Act] matters,” stated Tavares-Finson on the next steps forward for the case.
Robert Chin pleaded guilty on behalf of AFL in the court session. In outlining the charges, it was revealed that money was lent out to Jennifer Messado, Lee's Fifth Avenue, Rick's Cafe, Sonado Limited, Prime Automotive Limited, LR Welding Products Limited, and Mark Jones.
Messado is a disbarred attorney facing numerous charges.
Though the case for AFL has been dealt with, the situation surrounding Alliance Financial Services Limited's (AFSL) licence with the BOJ remains uncertain. The BOJ suspended AFSL's licence on December 3 after the Chins were charged by the FID. As a result, the company has been unable to operate for the last month in processing remittances, cambio services, bill payments, and cards under its prepaid Mastercard portfolio. The Chins were attempting to list AFSL on the Jamaica Stock Exchange in December 2020, where they were set to collect $1.99 billion through their holding companies. Peter Chin was voted from the board of Elite Diagnostic at the company's annual general meeting.
In the interim, Tavares-Finson will be looking to urgently resolve the case with Alliance Investment Management Limited (AIML), which has been charged with breaches of the POCA for failure to file cash transactions above US$15,000 with the chief technical director of the FID. Tavares-Finson requested that the case not be processed on Thursday until his team discusses the situation with the DPP's office.
AIML is a licensed securities dealer involved in asset management, securities trading, and financial advisory services.
“We are of the view that we have evidence to indicate that, where the FID has accused us of not reporting matters, we have evidence that we in fact reported them. Notwithstanding, the fact is that the law requires us to keep records for seven years and the charges under POCA relate to 2007, 2008 and 2009,” Tavares-Finson closed.