Integrity Commission's procedures to be assessed at Manchester MC fraud trial

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Integrity Commission's procedures to be assessed at Manchester MC fraud trial

Monday, June 24, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — A representative from the Integrity Commission, formerly the Office of the Contractor General, who is scheduled to give testimony at the Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial today, will be taking the stand for the third time as the court tries to assess the commission's handling of documents relating to the trial.

He started his testimony last Thursday.

The Integrity Commission along with the Financial Investigations Division (FID) and the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), carried out a raid at corporate offices of the corporation and at homes of senior employees in 2016, leading to arrests and charges for allegations of misappropriation of public funds, amounting to over $400 million.

Three years later, eight accused are on trial in the matter for charges including forgery, obtaining money by false pretence, conspiracy to defraud and facilitation of the retention of criminal property.

Former deputy superintendent of the road and works department Sanja Elliott, former director of finance and acting secretary manager (chief executive officer) David Harris, former temporary works overseer Kendale Roberts, former bank employee Radcliffe McLean, Elliot's wife Tasha-Gay Goulbourne-Elliott, his parents Elwardo and Myrtle Elliott and his former employee Dwayne Sibblies are now before the court.

The trial, which is alternating between the Manchester Parish Court in Mandeville and the Porus Courthouse further outside of the capital, started earlier this month.

The Integrity Commission representative is among approximately eleven witnesses to take the stand to date.

The questions to him from the prosecution are primarily centred on how the investigation was conducted and how the confiscated documents are treated.

The representative said that the files taken are stored in a cabinet at the Integrity Commission's office and only the chief investigator has access.

Defence attorneys in the case have been at odds with the prosecution about admitting into evidence documents that were not disclosed to them.

Presiding Judge Ann-Marie Grainger has ruled against having documents that were not made known to the defence attorneys by the prosecution.

However, on Friday the issue was again put forward by defence counsels.

Norman Godfrey, who is representing the former deputy superintendent of road and works, his wife and his former employee, reinforced his objections to have undisclosed documents in the case, noting that general questions should not be asked of the Integrity Commission's representative that may unearth evidence that cannot be admitted.

Delford Morgan, the attorney for Elliott's parents, and Samoi Campbell who is from Peter Champagnie's office and is representing Roberts, believe such questions could only serve to unnecessarily delay the pace of the proceeding.

“If documents are not in relation to any of the defendants, why clog up the proceeding with it?” asked Morgan.

The Manchester Municipal Corporation corruption trial could extend beyond next month, with occasional breaks.

-Alicia Sutherland

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