Appliance Trader Limited Pension Fraud

Ink Dating and Handwriting EXPERT witness Erich Speckin maintained under cross-examination in the Appliance Trader Limited (ATL) pension fraud case that four letters purporting to give consent for the distribution of funds from the pension scheme were stacked together and signed

 

Which former executive implicated Sandals in TCI corruption?

Appliance Trader Limited Pension Fraud

Which former executive implicated Sandals in TCI corruption?

March 21, 2014

AN attempt by a fraud accused to link the ATL pension trial to an old investigation implicating Sandals hotel chain in the Turks and Caicos Islands, has raised speculation about the identity of the unnamed former Sandals executive fingered by authorities.

Patrick Lynch, the former chairman of the pension fund, brought up the old TCI case in a statement to the Financial Services Commission (FSC), after he was arrested and charged for fraud. Last week, defence attorneys at the trial suggested that the TCI corruption case was behind Lynch’s current woes.

But prosecutors in the trial rubbished the link between the local and TCI cases as a “red herring” to divert attention away from the alleged forgery of four letters to deceive that consent was given for the distribution of $1.7 billion in pension fund surplus.

Lynch, former chairman of the pension scheme and, according to the prosecution, the alleged mastermind behind the conspiracy; Jeffrey Pyne, former managing director of Gorstew, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart’s holding company and Catherine Barber, former general manager of the pension fund, are jointly charged with fraud over the distribution from which they benefited.

The three former executives have been before the St Andrew Resident Magistrate’s Court in Half-Way-Tree for just over a year. After suffering a third consecutive major blow when the presiding magistrate, Lorna Shelly-Williams, threw out their latest submission in the case, the defence reached for the TCI incident.

But the reference to the TCI case appears to have backfired by raising speculation about the identity of a former Sandals executive whose action implicated Sandals in the TCI, causing the company to pay US$12 million to settle the case.

Prosecutors wondered aloud why mention was not made by defence lawyers Frank Phipps, QC, representing Lynch, and Deborah Martin, representing Barber, that the old case was settled with Sandals principals being exonerated, after the errant executive undertook an illegal transaction in the TCI several years ago. Pyne is represented by KD Knight, QC and John Junor.

In the TCI case, Sandals was notified by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) of certain payments which had been made to former premier, Michael Misick.

“We retained a leading international forensic firm, along with our US attorneys, to investigate the matter and it was revealed that a senior officer of the company at the time had made these unauthorised payments. No other officer of the Group was implicated,” Sandals said in response to media queries.

The DOJ undertook a thorough investigation and concluded that Sandals’ co-operation was “both unique and extraordinary and included the early and voluntary release of valuable evidence”. Based on the outcome of the probe, the DOJ declined to prosecute Sandals, the company confirmed.

“However, we were advised by our attorneys that the actions of a senior officer bind the company, with the result that a settlement was made with the Special Investigations Prosecution Team (SIPT) in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Speculation had been rife at the time as to which former Sandals executive was guilty of the illegal TCI transaction and whether any of the three former executives in the pension fraud trial was that individual.

Sandals was constrained not to call names by a privacy agreement as part of the settlement and the fact that the company “has instituted legal proceedings in The Bahamas to recover the unauthorised payments”, thus rendering the matter sub judice.

It was not clear why Lynch would have mentioned the matter to the FSC, since he was apparently not the former executive implicated, unless he knew the identity of the former executive and wanted to help his case.

In the ATL pension case, Lynch is accused of masterminding the production of four letters, to show that consent was given for the distribution of funds, after Stewart questioned his decision. The letters were backdated, according to evidence at the trial, and signed by Pyne seven months after he had left the company. Barber took the letters to Stewart.

An American forensic document analyst, Erich Speckin found in scientific tests that the letters were signed one on top of the other, causing impressions from the 1998 letter to be on the 2002 letter which should not yet have been in existence. All the letters were artificially aged, the expert testified.

So far, the defence has rarely touched the four letters in their cross-examination, after 52 days of hearings covering a full year. The trial resumes on Monday, March 24 when dates will be set for the defence to make no-case submissions.

Reference Link: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Which-former-executive-implicated-Sandals-in-TCI-corruption_16315822

Appliance Trader Limited Pension Fraud

Phipps finds going tough at ATL pension fraud trial

Appliance Trader Limited Pension Fraud

Phipps finds going tough at ATL pension fraud trial

February 14, 2014

A detective testified in the Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) pension fraud case yesterday that she found no evidence of consent being given for distribution of surplus from the ATL Pension Fund, over which three former executives are now on trial.

Inspector Karen Harrison of the St Andrew North Police Division, and formerly of the Organised Crime Investigations Division, also defended the integrity of the investigation under lengthy examination from Queen’s Counsel Frank Phipps, who spent all day chipping away at her evidence.

“My investigation revealed that consent must be given by the founder or co-founder,” Harrison said in response to Phipps. The veteran attorney is representing Patrick Lynch, the former chairman of the pension fund and the man accused of being the mastermind behind the alleged forging of four letters to deceive that consent was given for the distribution.

Asked by Phipps if her investigation showed that no consent was given for the distribution of surplus from the ATL Pension Fund for the years 1998, 2002, 2005, and 2008, Harrison said ‘yes’.

Phipps at times appeared frustrated that he couldn’t pry the answer he was seeking out of the super calm Inspector Harrison. He asked the witness if she would agree with him that the investigation was inadequate but she insisted ‘no’.

Yesterday lacked the drama of the three previous days when American forensic scientist and document examination specialist Erich Speckin was on the stand. The session was remarkable only for the absence of defence attorney K D Knight, QC, who attended for about 35 minutes in the post-lunch session, following two tough days when the prosecution constantly beat him to the punch.

Lynch, Dr Jeffery Pyne, a former managing director of Gorstew Ltd, the holding company for Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart’s group of companies and Catherine Barber, former general manager of the fund, are believed to have conspired in the forging of 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. Importantly, Pyne, who signed the letters, had left the company seven months before December 15, 2010 when the alleged forgery was discovered. Lynch was the alleged mastermind behind the scheme, the court was told.

The trial continues next Wednesday, February 19, 2014 under presiding judge, Senior Magistrate Lorna Shelly Williams in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court, Half-Way-Tree.

Reference Link: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Phipps-finds-going-tough-at-ATL-pension-fraud-trial_16054364

Appliance Trader Limited Pension Fraud

Tough day for Knight ATL prosecution overshadows attorney

Appliance Trader Limited Pension Fraud

ATL prosecution overshadows attorney

February 13, 2014

VETERAN attorney K D Knight found the going tough all day yesterday as prosecutors in the ATL Pension fraud case punched deep holes in his cross-examination of an expert witness, leaving him visibly frustrated.

Knight, using the Internet as his source, relied heavily on two cases in which Erich Speckin, a top American forensic scientist, appeared to try to discredit the expert witness, in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court, Half-Way-Tree.

But Knight appeared to have the wind knocked out of him when lead prosecutor, R N A Henriques showed convincingly that findings in the main case cited from a Hong Kong court had been successfully appealed and, moreover, the judge in that case had been severely castigated for “dishonesty” in just using criticisms of Speckin by the opposing counsel as his (the judge’s) own.

After that, it was all downhill for the veteran attorney who kept disrupting the witness, raising his voice at him at times and ignoring the persistent attempts of presiding Senior Magistrate Lorna Shelly Williams to stop speaking so that she could take her notes.

At one point Knight threw a document from which he was cross-examining the expert to the floor in apparent anger. At another point he walked out of the courtroom for a brief while, mumbling as he did so.

The attack on Speckin’s reputation, schooling and methods used characterised Knight’s examination of the witness who gave powerful evidence that the letters presented by three former ATL executives purporting to give consent for the distributions of millions from the pension fund in 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2008 were all signed at the same time and while stacked atop each other.

Speckin on Monday had testified that he used a machine called the ESDA to detect the impression of the signature left on the various letters. He had said in his report that the signature was that of accused Dr Jeffery Pyne.

But Knight yesterday asked Speckin if he had done an analysis to determine if the signature was indeed that of Pyne’s. The witness said ‘no’ and Knight later went on to ask if, having not done such an analysis, it was reckless to say that the signature was Pyne’s but the expert said ‘no’.

Defence attorney Frank Phipps remained quiet for almost the entire session, except for a brief moment when he supported an objection, and Deborah Martin offered no questions after Knight had completed his cross-examination. Henriques then briefly re-examined Speckin before the magistrate released him.

Dr Jeffery Pyne, a former managing director of Gorstew Ltd, the holding company for Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart’s group of companies; Patrick Lynch, the former chairman of the pension fund; and Catherine Barber, former general manager of the fund, are believed to have conspired in the forging of 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. Importantly, Pyne, who signed the letters, had left the company seven months before December 15, 2010 when the alleged forgery was discovered. Lynch was the alleged mastermind behind the scheme, the court was told.

Reference Link: https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/NEWS/Tough-day-for-Knight-_16037203

Appliance Trader Limited Pension Fraud

Expert found that forged letters were stacked together and signed

Appliance Trader Limited Pension Fraud


Handwriting Signature Fraud Expert Investigation Forensic

February 12, 2014

EXPERT witness Erich Speckin maintained under cross-examination in the Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) pension fraud case that the four letters purporting to give consent for the distribution of funds from the pension scheme were stacked together and signed.

Speckin maintained his opinion under examination from Queen’s Counsel Frank Phipps in the closely watched trial before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court, Half-Way-Tree.

Phipps had asked Speckin if he could tell if heat had been applied to the letters when they were stacked together. But the witness said that he could only opine that the letters were stacked together while being signed.

He had testified previously that Dr Jeffery Pyne’s signature were impressed upon letters that were dated in 1998 2002, 2005 and 2008. However, Phipps during his examination of the witness did not question him on his findings that the signature was impressed upon letters that should have been signed years before or after.

Dr Jeffery Pyne, a former managing director of Gorstew Ltd, the holding company for Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart’s group of companies; Patrick Lynch, the former chairman of the pension fund; and Catherine Barber, former general manager of the fund are believed to have conspired in the forging of 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. Importantly, Pyne, who signed the letters, had left the company seven months before December 15, 2010 when the alleged forgery was discovered. Lynch was the alleged mastermind behind the scheme, the court was told.

Yesterday, Queen’s Counsel KD Knight opened his examination-in-chief of Speckin by questioning his college background, asked a few questions about the methods tests he conducted on ink on the letters and the paper on which the letters were written and before, again attempting to attack Speckin’s reputation based on the evidence given by the witness in a New York court.

Attorney Hugh Wildman, one of four attorneys appearing for the Crown on a fiat, objected to Knight’s line of questions on the ground of relevance, quoting other landmark cases and UK Privy Council rulings.

The case resumes today with Speckin’s continued cross-examination by Kni.

Reference Link: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Expert-found-that-forged-letters-were-stacked-together-and-signed_16024734

Appliance Trader Limited Pension Fraud

Defence now cries foul; says prosecution causing delays

Appliance Trader Limited Pension Fraud

January 24, 2014

THE defence in the ATL Pension fraud trial yesterday flipped the script on the prosecution by charging that their actions were contributing to delays in the completion of the trial which has been under way since last April.

Ironically, it was defence attorney KD Knight, QC, who has throughout the trial been at the centre of comments that he was dragging it out by days-long cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, often going over the same ground.

Knight nodded as QC Frank Phipps complained about the failure of the prosecution to have any of the remaining witnesses present in court yesterday. But lead prosecutor RNA Henriques countered sharply that it was the first time in the long trial that witnesses were not available, and for good reasons, including illness.

Later, when Senior Magistrate Lorna Shelly Williams insisted on setting trial dates beyond February 14, Knight and Deborah Martin, another defence lawyer, had difficulty agreeing on dates, while Henriques declared that he was available “any day”.

In the end, the trial was adjourned until February 10 to give the defence time to take instruction on an evidence chart to be presented by an expert prosecution witness.

The 15 blown-up charts were prepared by Erich Speckin, a US-based forensic chemist and forensic document analyst. They show his findings from tests done on four letters purporting to be consent for distribution of surplus from the ATL pension fund.

On Wednesday, defence attorneys in the matter asked for time to consult their own expert on the matter so they could be prepared to cross-examine Speckin, whose findings from tests on the four letters have been extremely damning.

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

Lynch was the alleged mastermind behind the scheme, the court was told.

On Wednesday, Speckin testified in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court, among other things, that the letters, according to his examination and tests, were not signed on their purported dates and that an effort was made to age the ink used to sign them using heat.

Yesterday, Knight and Martin enquired whether Stewart would be called to give evidence, but Henriques said that he would review his transcripts to determine if it would be necessary to call the witness. Henriques reminded that the defence and the magistrate had the option of calling any witness if they so choose.

Reference Link: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/mobile/news/Defence-now-cries-foul–says-prosecution-causing-delays_15866397

Appliance Trader Limited Pension Fraud