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Manchester MC Fraud Trial | Defence questions bank rep’s competence to present evidence

Published:Saturday | September 14, 2019 | 12:08 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

Mandeville, Manchester:

When a representative from a financial institution was called to the witness stand yesterday in the multimillion-dollar Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial, several objections were made by the defence on the basis of absent or inappropriate documents.

In giving evidence, the representative stated that her institution was served with a court order from the Financial Investigations Division (FID), requesting information concerning Sanja Elliott, the former deputy superintendent of roads and works at the then-named Manchester Parish Council.

During the period of questioning, defence attorney Delford Morgan, who is representing Elliott’s parents and co-accused Edwardo and Myrtle Elliott, said neither the prosecution nor defence had seen a copy of that court order.

Morgan added that there was no proof that the witness had received the court order. He said that even if she did receive it, she would not have been legally competent to present evidence.

Presiding judge Ann-Marie Grainger sought to clarify whether the defence was suggesting that in the absence of the court order submitted, the evidence of the witness should be precluded. She later ruled to allow the witness to continue.

The witness is expected to return next week Thursday to continue giving evidence.

FID request

Yesterday, the representative of Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) who took the stand on Thursday was recalled to continue questioning and cross-examination.

He spoke to the request made by FID for him to provide information on Elliott, his wife, Tasha-Gaye Goulbourne-Elliott, and his parents for the period 2010-2016.

He said that of the four, filed tax returns were only found for Sanja Elliott up to the year 2014, and this was done by the Manchester Parish Council.

In cross-examination, Norman Godfrey questioned whether any investigations were done to establish if Elliott had any other source of income outside of the then parish council.

The witness said that he only did what he needed to do in satisfying the requests of FID.

Attorney Danielle Archer later questioned whether there was any profile stating what persons in certain professions should or should not have.

The witness said that there was no such profile but pointed out that the systems used by TAJ only assess taxpayers by the information they have provided.

Other witness

The other witness called yesterday was a representative of the Companies Office of Jamaica, who gave specific information to the operations of the entity and spoke briefly to requests made of her by the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, which partnered with the FID to conduct a number of raids in 2016 as they probed the alleged fraud.

The witness revealed that the requests were for information related to any companies or businesses registered to Elliott. However, none were found.

Attorney Norman Godfrey asked whether persons could be involved in commerce in the absence of registration, to which the witness said, “Yes”.

So far, 19 witnesses have been called to the stand. Due to some inconsistencies with document submission, some witnesses have been recalled.

It is anticipated that the trial will continue into the coming months.

The matter continues on Wednesday, September 18.