'ATL case conceived out of evil'
The attorneys for the three former Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) executives who were freed of criminal charges in the billion-dollar ATL pension fraud trial, have asserted that the case was "conceived out of evil" and should not have been placed before the courts.
At the same time, the three former executives, Patrick Lynch, Catherine Barber and Dr Jeffrey Pyne, have sought, through their attorneys, to try and reclaim their reputation.
"This case should never have been brought. That it has been brought and has ended as it has is to be seen by the people of Jamaica as a complete exoneration of these three," defence attorney K. D. Knight told journalists yesterday.
"Anyone who had any doubt about their reputation [and] their integrity, the result of this case should be taken as restoring their integrity to the position that it was immediately prior to this sordid affair," added Knight, who was speaking during a press conference at his downtown Kingston offices yesterday.
Prosecutors had charged, during the 60-day trial, that Lynch, the former chairman of the ATL pension scheme and Barber, former general manager of the scheme, along with Dr Jeffrey Pyne, former managing director of Gorstew Limited - the founder of the scheme - allocated $1.7 billion of interest and withdrawal surpluses to members accounts without Gorstew's consent and used forged letters to deceive ATL boss Gordon 'Butch' Stewart that consent had been obtained.
However, in dismissing the charges on a no-case submission by defence attorneys, Senior Resident Magistrate Lorna Shelly-Williams said she found that while consent was required and that it was not obtained, the actions of the three former executives did not amount to dishonesty and there was no attempt to conceal a crime.
Defence attorney Deborah Martin, who represented Barber, cautioned that having a ruling without restoration will take a process to overcome.
"It is not unique to these accused persons. It's what persons who come before the court face, and there really is an onus, a responsibility and a duty on the part of persons who exercise authority in the State to ensure that there is at least a basis before you cause the State apparatus to be unleashed in this way on individuals," she said.
Knight pointed out that when the allegations first surfaced, the public was led to believe that Lynch, Barber and Pyne had committed a reprehensible act by defrauding the ATL pension scheme of $1.7 billion for their own benefit and that their actions were to the detriment of the members of the scheme.
"They gained nothing for themselves, (and) they sought to gain nothing for themselves ... . All they did, they did in the interest of the workers of the ATL group. There was no dishonesty in what they did," the attorney insisted.
Attorney-at-law John Junor, who along with Knight represented Pyne, revealed that the former executives have instructed their attorneys to pursue "a certain course of action" to repair the damage done to their integrity and reputation.