Fri | Dec 3, 2021

Former CarMax exec freed in fraud case

Published:Wednesday | October 20, 2021 | 12:10 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

A former executive of the now-defunct used-car dealership CarMax, who was implicated in a multimillion-dollar fraud probe at the company, was freed of fraud charges last Friday.

Businessman Darren Blake, who was arrested and charged in March 2015, was being tried in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on 10 counts of fraudulent conversion in relation to a $161-million fraud.

However, he was freed after his attorney-at-law Patrick Bailey made a no-case submission, which was upheld by Parish Judge Maxine Ellis.

When contacted, Bailey said that the prosecution did not have the evidence to support the charges against his client.

“First of all, the monies that were paid [over], no monies were paid to him. It was paid to CarMax and there was no evidence that he had any dealings more than just a regular little employee,” he said.

Blake was charged following allegations that between December 2014 and March 2015 he had sold motor vehicles for several individuals, but had failed to pay over the money to the owners.

About 88 persons had made formal complaints to the police.

However, Blake since his arrest had maintained his innocence.

Attorney-at-law Raymond Clough, who is now deceased and first represented Blake, had told the court in 2015 that his client was never involved in the daily operation of the company and that it was his business partner, Ian Lyn Muhammad, who had sold the cars.

But shortly after Blake’s arrest, the police had reported that Lyn had fled the island and that they would be moving to have him extradited and his assets seized, but he was never formally charged.

The police had also called for Lyn to make himself available for questioning, but according to Lyn Muhammad, who has migrated, he had instructed his attorney to turn over certain documents to the police on his behalf.

Last week, he told The Gleaner that he has sought to engage the services of a United States attorney-at-law to have an Interpol alert for him removed.

“He informed me that the Jamaican authorities sent my info to Interpol claiming I was the owner, which I was not, and that I had left with the money, all the time with no proof or even correct information on the company’s ownership. The fact is I am not an owner and never was at the time of the incident,” he told The Gleaner.

“Also, I did not take any money from CarMax to America. That’s a lie, and I am not a fugitive of the law. I was never charged for anything in Jamaica,” he reiterated.