State sets eyes on Dudus' assets
Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
Queen's Counsel Michael Hylton has said the state-run Assets Recovery Agency is going ahead with its claim to get orders to confiscate the assets of former Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke and his company.
The agency was granted permission yesterday by Supreme Court judge Marva McDonald Bishop to discontinue the claims for seizure of assets which it had brought against Kingston businessman Justin O'Gilvie, his wife Maxine, and his two businesses.
Claims for seizure of assets were also withdrawn against Coke's girlfriend, Stephanie Gayle, and the estate of his deceased mother, Patricia Halliburton.
O'Gilvie, who is being represented by attorneys-at-law Paul Beswick and Kayode Smith, went to the Supreme Court in December last year and had the freezing orders lifted.
Hylton said yesterday that the agency decided not to proceed with the cases because it did not have the evidence and the witnesses were not available.
Justice Lennox Campbell, in lifting the freezing orders, had directed the agency to inform the parties that it did not have sufficient evidence to succeed on the claims.
Coke has not filed a defence against the claim freezing his assets and so a default judgment has been entered against him.
CLIENTS TO FILE FOR DAMAGES
Attorney-at-law Chukwuemeka Cameron, who represented Coke's relatives, said yesterday that the agency had given an undertaking in relation to damages when the assets were frozen. He said now that the suit has been discontinued, his clients intend to file applications to recover damages.
Cameron said his clients had contended that they obtained their assets trading legally in Panama in the 1990s. He pointed out that the agency contended that they had committed money-laundering offences, but the agency could not prove it. He said although the agency had gone under the Proceedings of Crime Act of 2007, money-laundering offences were not retroactive.