Tue | Oct 16, 2018

Questionable cash puts public servants on trial

Published:Monday | December 15, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

A motor vehicle examiner and a customs officer, who the Corruption Prevention Commission (CPC) says failed to satisfactorily explain how they came by millions of dollars in assets traced to them, are to go on trial next year on corruption charges.

Billagingi Trail, an employee of the Island Traffic Authority, is facing three counts of illicit enrichment dating back to 2006, 2008 and 2010, while Daniel Coburn, who is employed to the Jamaica Customs Agency, is facing one count each of illicit enrichment and knowingly filing a false statutory declaration in 2007 and 2009, respectively.

Section 14 subsection five of the Corruption Prevention Act indicates that a public servant can be prosecuted for the offence of illicit enrichment if he or she owns assets that are disproportionate to his or her lawful earnings and fails to provide an explanation, or provides one that is deemed unsatisfactory.

Trail and Coburn have both pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to go on trial next February and March, respectively.

no satisfactory explanation

According to the allegations laid out in court documents, Trail owned assets valued at approximately $3.2 million with a disposable income of $252,000 as at December 31, 2006 and failed to provide the CPC with a "satisfactory explanation" as to how he came by $800,000 split equally to purchase two motor cars, a 1994 BMW and a 1996 Honda.

In 2008, according to the documents, he owned assets valued at approximately $8.6 million as at December 31 that year, and had failed to satisfactorily explain to the anti-corruption agency how he or his spouse acquired $5.5 million used to acquire a property in the Jerusalem Housing Scheme in St Elizabeth.

The CPC alleged that by December 31, 2010, Trail's assets were valued at approximately $14.7 million, with disposable income of $1.45 million, and had failed to provide a satisfactory explanation as to how he came by $4.1 million that was used to purchase a property in Cooper's Hill, St Andrew.

Coburn, according to court documents, had assets valued at approximately $9.7 million, with disposable income of $2.4 million as at December 31, 2007, and failed to satisfactorily explain "increase in his bank and investment accounts by more than $4.7 million".

He is also accused of failing to include a 2006 Suzuki Swift motor car he purchased and sold in 2007 in his statutory declaration for that year.