$400m fraud - Manchester funds siphoned balloon
Prosecutors have confirmed that it is alleged that more than $400 million was swindled from state coffers by agents and affiliates of the Manchester Municipal Corporation, more than four times the amount that initial reports suggested.
The corporation was raided by the Financial Investigation Division (FID) and Major Organised Crime and Anti -Corruption Agency (MOCA) in 2016.
The trial, which began on Monday at the Manchester Parish Court, with senior Judge Ann-Marie Grainger, has so far fielded testimony from five witnesses, including former mayor and chairman of the council, Brenda Ramsay.
As the fraud trial entered its fourth day yesterday morning, a former accounting clerk at the corporation was called to the witness stand to be questioned on the details presented on invoices and other documents she signed from 2013 to 2016, along with former employees of the council who are charged in the matter.
The prosecution had more than 100 invoices admitted into evidence and revealed that some, many in excess of $400,000, were submitted for work not done and were registered in the names of persons who were unaware that their identity was being used to validate the documents.
Charged are former acting secretary-manager and director of finance, David Harris; former Deputy Superintendent of Roads and Works, Sanjay Elliot; temporary works overseer Kendale Roberts; former bank employee Radcliffe McLean; employee of Elliot, Dwayne Sibbles; Elliott’s mother, Mrytle Elliott; father, Edwardo Elliott; and Sanjay’s wife, Tasha-Gaye Goulbourne Elliott.
Sanjay Elliott and his family are being represented by attorney-at-law Norman Godfrey; McLean by Joel Nelson; Harris by Danielle Archer; and Roberts by Peter Champagnie and attorneys from his office.
The Gleaner understands that defence counsel were averse to having all eight members tried together and applied for the individuals not employed to the council to face the courts separately. However, the court did not rule in the defendants’ favour.
With 54 witnesses left to present evidence over what might be the next four weeks, the defendants are facing 35 counts of conspiracy to defraud, engaging in a transaction that involves criminal property, possession of criminal property, facilitating the retention of criminal property, submitting forged documents, among other charges.
Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn was present in court yesterday morning to support her team of prosecutors, which includes representatives from her office, MOCA, and the Integrity Commission, after receiving word that members of the Manchester Municipal Corporation were not cooperative.