Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Restraint order against businessman lifted after State provides false info

Published:Friday | December 18, 2015 | 12:00 AMBarbara Gayle

A restraining order issued by the Supreme Court in July against the assets of Jamaican businessman Patrick Prince has been lifted because of false information presented by the government-owned Assets Recovery Agency.

Justice Bryan Sykes, in setting aside the restraining order, blasted the ARA for the non-disclosure of important material and facts.

The ARA had informed the court that Prince, who is also a Canadian citizen, had absconded from Canada and there was no evidence that he entered Jamaica lawfully.

Sykes said the picture painted by the ARA was that Prince, having been arrested and charged by the Canadian authorities, fled Canada and slipped into Jamaica undetected.

Following the restraining order under the Proceeds of Crimes Act, Prince, through his attorney, Peter Champagnie, filed an application to discharge or vary the restraining order on the basis of material non-disclosure to the court.

IMPORTANT RULING

Champagnie told The Gleaner yesterday that the judge's ruling was very important, and the setting aside of the order meant Prince could now access his accounts in financial institutions as well as his properties.

Prince said he was not at the premises when a search warrant was executed, and stated further that he was never arrested and charged with any of the offences alleged and did not know of any arrest warrant out for him in Canada. He exhibited pages from his Jamaican passport to show that he entered Jamaica lawfully on June 14 last year from Canada, four days after the execution of a search warrant on a premises in Jamaica.

Sykes said the court was told by ARA in affidavits that Prince, along with other persons, were arrested in Jamaica on June 10 last year and charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, possession of property obtained by crime and possession for the purpose of trafficking in cocaine.

Premises with which Prince was associated were searched and three persons, including Prince, were arrested.

The affidavits stated no drugs were found in the house, but cocaine was found in a motor vehicle on the premises. The police found US$394,000 and CDN$107,050 in the house.

ODD REPORT

In reviewing Prince's passport, the judge said having regard to Prince's travel history, it was odd that the ARA could assert that it had no record of Prince entering Jamaica through any of the legitimate ports of entry.

The ARA, in response to Prince's affidavit, told the court that it had given incorrect information to the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, and, in fact, the information given related to another respondent.

Sykes said the ARA and all other without-notice applicants must fully appreciate the heavy burden they were under where the orders sought had damaging effects on the lives of persons.

Sykes said the court must endeavour to see that its procedures were not misused and its standards undermined.

The restraining orders which were granted in July against 11 other applicants, who the ARA said were allegedly associated with Prince, are still in effect.

barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com