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Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial | Witness cashed $15 million in cheques for work not done

Published:Thursday | June 20, 2019 | 12:00 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

Mandeville, Manchester:

The eighth witness in the $400-million Manchester Municipal Corporation (MMC) fraud trial yesterday revealed that she encashed more than 40 cheques, some in excess of $400,000, and turned over the monies to an official at the local authority as she had been instructed.

The witness, whose identity is being withheld, said that between 2013 and 2014, she met the accused, former deputy superintendent of roads and works at the Manchester Parish Council (now the MMC), Sanja Elliott, at the gym.

She said that one evening, while he was taking her home from the gym, Elliott asked for her full name and taxpayer registration number (TRN), promising to get her a job.

The witness told the court that the job, which would have entailed “contractor work, beautification, etc”, never materialised.

However, she said that she was called on more than 40 occasions and informed that her cheques were ready to be picked up.

The witness revealed that the sum of cheques could have been roughly $15 million, with the lowest being $10,000 and the highest being $490,000.

“Every time a cheque is ready, Sanja would call me to pick it up,” she told the court.

The process

The witness said she would encash the cheques at a popular financial institution then inform Elliott, who would either collect the cash himself or have co-accused Dwyane Sibbles or two other men pick up the money.

She said that she would sometimes encash the cheques a day apart and never questioned why she was being asked to do so.

When the prosecution presented the witness with two contractor invoices for work done at the council, she confirmed seeing her name and TRN on the documents but said they did not bear her signature.

She also confirmed that she had never done work for the MMC and never facilitated work for the corporation.

She also said that she did not have to sign for the cheques she picked up from Elliott, Sibbles, and another person, whose name she could not recall.

The MMC was raided by the Financial Investigations Division and Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency in 2016 after irregularities were discovered.

Elliott’s wife, Tashagay, and his parents, Edwardo and Myrtle, are also on trial before the Manchester Parish Court, along with Sibbles, a carpenter, and Radcliffe McLean, a bank teller accused of facilitating the encashment of cheques prepared based on the alleged fictitious invoices.

All eight have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud, obtaining money by means of false pretences, possession of criminal property, engaging in a transaction that involves criminal property, and facilitating the retention of criminal property.