Wed | Jan 27, 2021

Trinidad's DPP to send case against former government minister directly to High Court

Published:Saturday | November 28, 2020 | 5:26 PMCMC

(CMC)- The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in Trinidad and Tobago says it intends to bypass a preliminary hearing in a magistrate’s court and file indictments directly in the High Court in the fraud case involving former government minister Marlene McDonald and others, a senior state prosecutor said.

“The DPP intends to go straight to indictment for the matter,” senior prosecutor, Mauricia Joseph, told Chief Magistrate, Maria Busby Earle Caddle, at a virtual hearing on Friday.

McDonald, who was sacked by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley from the last administration after she was charged, along with her long-time companion Michael Carew, Wayne Anthony, Victor McEachrane and Edgar Zepherine appeared in court on Friday.

McDonald, Carew, Anthony, McEachrane, Zephyrine are facing a total of 49 charges of attempting to defraud the government by allegedly procuring funds for Carew’s Calabar Foundation, under the guise that it was a charity.

Joseph told the court that the indictments will be filed at the High Court and should be done by late January. There were no objections from either of the five to the position of the DPP for the progress of the case. The five will return to court on January 29 for a status update.

At their first court appearance in September, last year, the prosecution indicated that there will be 22 witnesses in the case, and that number was likely to rise before the eventual start of the matter.

McDonald, 62, the former public administration minister, is facing seven charges- two for conspiracy to defraud, four for misbehaving in public office and one for money laundering.  She has been released on TT$2 million (US$320,000) bail.

Carew, 73, is facing eight charges- three for conspiracy to defraud and five money laundering counts. Zepherine, 76, the former chairman of the National Commission for Self Help, is facing 27 money laundering charges and one for conspiracy to defraud. McEachrane is facing three fraud charges and three for money laundering, while Anthony only has one money laundering charge.

Both McEachrane and Anthony are contractors. The offences are alleged to have occurred between 2008 and 2009, but the police investigation only began in 2016.

In August last year, Chief Magistrate Earl Caddle set bail at TT$500,000 (US$80,000) for Carew, $1 million for 75-year-old  Zephyrine, TT$100, 000 (US$16,000) for 66 year-old Anthony and TT$400,000 (US$64,000) for another contractor, Victor McEachrane, 65.

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