Cuban light bulb trial ... JP gives conflicting evidence

Published: Tuesday | December 17, 2013 Comments 0

 

A St Elizabeth justice of the peace yesterday gave different accounts of the purpose for which he was issued cheques totalling J$4.5 million by two of the companies businessman Rodney Chin claimed he fronted for former junior minister Kern Spencer.

Everol Orr was giving evidence as Spencer's corruption trial resumed in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court.

Customer service representative at the Santa Cruz branch of the Jamaica National Building Society, D'wain Clarke, has already testified that Orr visited the financial institution on September 14, 2007 with a National Commercial Bank (NCB) manager's cheque in the amount of J$4.5 million and asked that it be lodged to his account there. Clarke said the JP then used the money to purchase a US money draft in the amount of US$60,000 made payable to Olint Corporation, the failed investment scheme.

Orr fidgeted and paused for long periods as he took the witness stand and admitted to lead prosecutor Paula Llewellyn that he used the two cheques from Caribbean Communication Media Network (CCMN) and Universal Management Development (UMD), each in the amount of J$2.5 million and J$2 million, respectively, to purchase the NCB manager's cheque.

"Before you went to the bank, when was the last time you spoke to Mr Spencer?" Llewellyn asked.

"Could have been the same day or the day before," Orr replied, noting that the conversation was via telephone.

"What did Mr Spencer say to you about those cheques?" Llewellyn pressed.

"To take them to Jamaica National to buy foreign currency," Orr replied.

He told the court that he did not benefit from the proceeds of the transaction.

However, when confronted by defence attorney Deborah Martin with two receipts from CCMN and UMD dated September 14, 2007 which he signed, the JP testified that the two cheques were issued to him as part payment for goods and services he had provided on credit to persons involved in the Cuban light bulb project.

He also acknowledged that one of the receipts bore a matching number for one of the cheques, while the number on the other cheque did not correspond with the other receipt.

INVESTED IN OLINT

Orr also agreed with Martin that, through another one of his companies - Mid-Island Investments - he invested US$63,965 in Olint on behalf of several persons who had approached him.

"Was that what you meant when you said you did not benefit from the proceeds of the transaction?" Martin asked.

"I don't know," Orr replied.

Llewellyn then sought, through re-examination, to have Orr clarify his testimony.

"You said, in answer to me, that the cheques were not for goods and services, then you said in answer to my learned friend Miss Martin that they were for goods and services, which is correct?" she questioned.

"I guess they were for goods and services then," the witness replied.

Spencer and his former personal assistant Colleen Wright are on trial for money laundering and illicit enrichment arising from the implementation of the Cuban light bulb programme.

The trial continues today.

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