PORT OF SPAIN,Trinidad – Bail amounting to TT$21 million was granted to the ten people accused of involvement in a payroll scam at the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation (SJLRC).
Bail was granted when the accused appeared in the Port of Spain Magistrates Court on Tuesday to answer almost 900 charges related to the scam, which allegedly occurred between 2011 and last year.
According to the police, warrants have been issued for the arrest of two other people who were involved in the case, but up to late Tuesday, they had not been arrested.
The charges allegedly arose from an internal audit initiated by the corporation’s former chief executive officer (CEO) Kofi Chapman last year.
All the accused are charged with being part of a conspiracy to defraud the corporation.
During the sitting, it took at least three magistrates to read to the accused, 1200 charges of fraud .
The accused appeared before magistrate Kerri Honore-Narine, shortly after 9 am (local time) jointly charged with the offences.
Because of the amount of charges, Honore-Narine requested that the accused be sent to different courts where magistrates would read the charges and have them return to her court individually where their attorneys could make bail applications on their behalf.
One of the accused, Tallot Ali, 33, had more than 200 charges of conspiracy to defraud and falsifying documents.
He was accused of unlawful payment of wages by falsifying payroll documents for salaries.
However, Ali’s attorney Larry Williams appealed to the magistrate for bail to be set at a reasonable amount, since his client had no previous convictions and was the breadwinner of his family. He also said Ali willingly surrendered to the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau, cooperated with investigators and does not pose a flight risk.
The money laundering charges relate to each incident in which all of the accused allegedly withdrew the money that was fraudulently paid to their accounts. They were not called upon to plead to the charges, which were laid indictably.
The magistrate, on granting bail also imposed conditions , including ordering the accused to report to their nearest police station three times weekly for the duration of their case and to surrender their passports.
The group will reappear in court on August 28. – CMC