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Decision day in ATL pension fraud case

Published:Tuesday | June 3, 2014 | 12:00 AM

A magistrate is today expected to deliver her ruling on whether she will dismiss criminal charges against three former executives of the Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) group in the billion-dollar pension fund fraud trial.

The expected decision of Senior Resident Magistrate Lorna Shelly-Williams comes two weeks after lawyers for the three completed their no-case submissions, asking her to find that prosecutors had not made out a prima facie case against their clients.

Patrick Lynch, former chairman of the ATL pension scheme, and Catherine Barber, former general manager of the scheme, along with Dr Jeffrey Pyne, former managing director of Gorstew Limited - the founder of the scheme and the holding company for ATL boss Gordon 'Butch' Stewart - are on trial for allocating $1.7 billion of interest and withdrawal surpluses to members without Gorstew's consent and allegedly using forged letters to deceive Stewart that consent had been obtained.

However, defence attorneys Frank Phipps, K.D. Knight and Deborah Martin have asked the magistrate to toss the charges, arguing that the stipulation requiring consent for the surplus distributions runs counter to the country's pension laws because it fetters with the powers of the trustees of the fund.

They also asserted that the decision not to call Stewart as a witness infringed on their clients' constitutional right to a fair trial and that the police probe was flawed.

However, prosecutors have countered that the requirement for consent is a safeguard for the operation of the scheme and does not fetter with the power of the trustees.