Court blocks attorney from disposing of up to US$750,000
Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
The Supreme Court has frozen assets valued at up to US$750,000 of attorney-at-law Minette Lawrence as her legal battle with information specialist and businessman Kaon Northover continues.
The order, which was granted on December 16 last year by Justice Frank Williams, was further extended six days later by Mr Justice Bertram Morrison and will remain in effect until January 21 when the parties return to court.
Lawrence is allowed J$300,000 monthly for personal living expenses as a result of the court order. She is also allowed to pay sums legitimately owing to clients and her staff in the course of her practice.
However, the court order restrains Lawrence from dealing in anyway prejudicial to the interests of the claimants and to disclose to the claimants all documents concerning her assets, as well as documents relating to the company Rajkumar Limited by January 28.
Northover and his company, K Ann JSA, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands, filed a suit in 2013, contending that in June 2008 Lawrence advised him to lend US$400,000 to a foreign company to assist in the refinancing of the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC).
According to Northover, he was Lawrences client at the time and she held out herself as being competent to advise him on legal, investment and financial matters.
He outlined in court documents that Lawrence told him that JRC needed 700 million to re-establish itself operationally and JRC had given Norman McLeod permission to solicit the funds.
According to Northover, he was further told by Lawrence that the Schwarzenberg Trust of Liechtenstein was identified as the source of the funds for the loan, but JRC needed US$3.2 million by way of bridging finance to effect the release of the loan.
Northover, who is being represented by attorney-at-law Joseph Jarrett, contends that Lawrence told him to invest US$400,000 for 45 days and the money would be returned with 331/3 per cent interest, which would be US$132,000.
He said Lawrence introduced him to McLeod in June 2008, who confirmed what Lawrence had said. Northover claimed that Lawrence drafted document on behalf of his company and the Schwarzenberg Trust which he signed.
He contends that on Lawrences instruction, he wired US$400,000 to an account at Sotayeeah Financial Services in Florida but later discovered that the account was a private one over which Lawrence allegedly had control. He said so far he has only received US$32,000 and has lost millions of dollars in business because of Lawrences alleged breach.
In her defence, Lawrence has denied that the US400,000 was lodged to her account. She has also denied giving instructions regarding the wiring of the funds.
She said at no time did she act as attorney-at-law for Northover, and during the course of the incorporation of his company, Northover attended her office frequently and imposed his company on her and her staff, often regaling them with stories of his allegedly lucrative and successful trading activities and details of his extensive network of contacts in the foreign exchange trading community, both locally and internationally.