ACCUSED fraudster Jean Ann Panton was remanded in custody for another six months to allow investigators more time for the submission of crucial files related to the major fraud at Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL).
Panton, who appeared remotely via video link in the Supreme Court on Thursday, was ordered by Justice Vinnette Graham-Allen to make her next appearance on December 6, 2023.
The former SSL wealth advisor was indicted for three counts of larceny as a servant, three counts of falsification of accounts, five counts of forgery, five counts of uttering forged documents, three counts of engaging in transaction involving stolen property and three counts of breaches of the Cybercrimes Act.
Panton is accused of fleecing roughly $3 billion from more than 30 SSL clients over a 10-year period.
A prosecutor told Justice Graham-Allen that the prosecution team has in its possession statements that would be served on Panton's defence team via a video link by 4:00 pm on Thursday. Other documents crucial to the case are, however, still outstanding. When asked by Justice Graham-Allen to give an update on the status of the documents, the prosecutor asked for more time to allow investigators go through the voluminous files.
"The file is still incomplete. Outstanding are the reports from cyber experts from the Financial Investigations Division as well as Communication Forensic and Cybercrime Division," said the prosecutor, noting that documents received thus far are in relation to data spanning over 10 years so it is taking some time.
Added the prosecutor: "The time frame given to me is about two to three months. We have received five statements in relation to the chain of custody of various items. These statements have not yet been disclosed to the defence. Disclosure can be made by the end of the day. What we have done, because the file is so voluminous, is create a link. That link was will be provided to Panton's attorney-at-law, Mr Sylvester Hemmings, by 4:00 pm," the prosecutor told the court on Thursday.
After the prosecution outlined its position, Justice Graham-Allen said the next time the case comes to court, "we have to ensure that we are setting a plea and case management hearing date and everything that needs to be disclosed should be disclosed by then".
Justice Graham-Allen then gave the prosecution extra time to prepare. "This adjournment is to allow the disclosure by the prosecution to the defence for the defence to take written instructions from the accused as a result of the disclosure received and for a plea and case management hearing date is to be fixed on the next time the case comes to court which is the 6th of December. Once the court is satisfied that full disclosure has been made and that the defence has completed taking instructions from the accused, then we will set a plea and case management hearing to set a trial date."
In addressing Panton, Justice Graham-Allen said, "Miss Panton, you heard the discourse I had with the prosecution, your attorney and the police. Your lawyer has a big file with lots of documents, so what the prosecution has done is create a link to send so your attorney can get all the documents the prosecution has and will rely on. Once that link is disclosed to Mr Hemmings, he will have to read all the material and will have to discuss it with you."
Justice Graham-Allen continued: "We couldn't set it any earlier than December because it is going to take some time. The file is huge and the disclosure is plenty. It has expert reports and other technical documents. Your next court day you will appear, as you are appearing now, remotely on the screen at 11:00 am."
Panton responded, "Yes, Your Honour."
The judge ordered that investigators must keep the victims informed about the progress of the case on each occasion it goes before the court.
"Victims and witnesses have basic rights to be kept informed about the case as it passes through the justice system. What used to happen before, is that they don't know anything about the case. On the eve of the trial, everyone runs to get subpoena to go serve the witnesses and that has been the experience of the court. Witnesses move and you can't find them. The court is using best practices from the United Nations declaration of basic rights for victims of crime and abuse of power. Therein lies the order that the court has been making since Monday of this week."