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Former insurance claims manager convicted for fraud

Published:Monday | August 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

A CASE in which fiat was granted to private attorneys to prosecute a fraud matter has resulted in the conviction of Alastair McDonald, a former claims manager at Key Motors Insurance Company Ltd.

McDonald was last week convicted in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court of defrauding Key Motors Insurance of more than $30 million and will be sentenced by Senior Resident Magistrate Georgianna Fraser on August 18.

The Crown, represented by attorneys-at-law Richard Small and Caroline Hay, led evidence that between 2004 and 2009, McDonald manipulated the system by creating fictitious motor vehicle and accident claims. He lodged the cheques to his bank account and also encashed cheques at a cambio in Clarendon.

Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn granted the lawyers a fiat to prosecute the case.

Retired Director of Public Prosecutions Kent Pantry, QC, represented McDonald at the trial, which began in 2012 in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court.

Llewellyn told The Gleaner yesterday that the matter was a complex one and that "the interest of justice was best served having the benefit of continuation" as Hay had started the matter during her time at the Office of the Director Public Prosecutions, where she was a senior deputy DPP.

Llewellyn said when Hay was resigning from the office, she indicated to her that she would have been willing to give her a fiat to prosecute the matter, which she, Hay, had "fulsomely prepared" during her time at the office.

McDonald was charged with falsification of accounts and larceny of a valuable security. He was convicted of 22 counts of fraud.

The Crown called 26 witnesses at the trial, which ended last month. McDonald, who said he was a "victim" of the fraud, in claiming his innocence, gave an unsworn statement from the dock that lasted for five hours. He said he was envied by his co-workers because he was favoured by the owner of the company, who had recruited him.

genuine and legitimate

Witnesses from the insurance company testified that McDonald was a claims negotiator and was responsible for ensuring that third-party claims were genuine and legitimate.

Evidence was given that by virtue of McDonald's position, he used his access and authorisation to engage his employer's requisition system in order to have cheques generated in the names of unverifiable individuals. Medical certificates were presented to support the claims of persons who were said to be injured. The investigations revealed that both the injured and the doctors were fictitious.

The RM, in her findings, pointed out that McDonald did not deny that the cheques in issue ended up in his bank account or had been negotiated through a cambio. The RM said McDonald was, however, disputing that the cheques came into his possession by dishonest means. She said McDonald described himself as a savvy businessman who set up his own business, Crofts Hill Enterprises, in 2004 and was a family man.

"I find as a matter of fact that beginning in 2004 and extending into 2009, Alastair McDonald created fictitious "third parties" and added them as participants to genuine claims made to Key by its insured," the RM said. She also found that the cheques came into McDonald's hands by dishonest means.

Llewellyn said yesterday that Hay and Small have been granted a fiat to deal with other issues arising under the Proceeds of Crime Act under which McDonald has been charged.