Controversial businessman, Finton DeBourg has received a 24-year jail sentence on a number of fraud-related charges related to the affairs of the collapsed Capital Bank International in which depositors lost millions of dollars.
The sentence was handed down at approximately 5.10 p.m Tuesday by female Guyanese high court judge, Justice Paula Gilford who presides over High Court No.2 on the Carenage.
De Bourg was found guilty on November 10 by a nine-member jury panel on all six counts brought against him by the State following the collapse of Capbank in which he served as the Chief Executive Officer.
The businessman who resided at Westerhall Point, St. David’s was found guilty on one count of fraudulently applying for his own benefit EC$$975,119.97 from Capbank between October 1, 2002 and March 31, 2004 and another count of fraudulently applying an additional sum of EC$15, 650, 538.28 for his own benefit between September 4, 2004 and February 15, 2008.
He was also found guilty on three counts of falsifying the Minutes of meetings of the Board of Directors dated April 21, 2005, February 15, 2006 and June 1, 2007, and also between the period of June 1, 2007 and August 31, 2007, as a Director of CapBank.
He was originally down to be sentenced on December 15 but it was put back on two occasions due to delays in processing documents as requested by the high court judge.
The judge sentenced DeBourg who served as the bank’s Chief Executive Officer to 7 years on Count 6 for Misappropriation, 5 years on Count One for Misappropriation with both sentences to run consecutively.
On the Counts 2, 3 & 4 for falsification of the Minutes of the Board of Directors, he was given 5 years each to run concurrently and another prison sentence of 6 years for falsification of accounts.
De Bourg was also ordered by Justice Gilford to pay compensation to Capbank of EC$16.6 million for monies that were found missing from the account of the bank.
According to the ruling the monies would have to be repaid at interest of 6% from the date when he makes the first payment until the total sum is paid in full.
The female judge said that this sum should be paid by DeBourg on completion of his prison sentence and in full within 5 years of coming out of prison.
In default, the former Capbank (CEO) will be sent back to prison for another 3 years behind bars.
Justice Gilford also said in her judgment that DeBourg should be debarred from dealing with any financial institution as Director or shareholder or otherwise.
In handing down the stiff prison sentence on the controversial businessman, the judge outlined a number of factor which she took into consideration in arriving at her decision.
She felt that the crime was carefully planned based on the fact that DeBourg himself did not commit any of the offences personally but used his workers at the bank to do it for him.
She blasted him as one who came into the court giving the impression that he did nothing wrong but the facts show that he was the owner of Capbank and Native Hut.
The judge slammed DeBourg for taking advantage of the situation as persons would have decided to place deposits into Capbank as it was being sold as a homegrown financial institution but it is clear that the accused had other plans for the people’s money.
“Your action represents a scourge of financial integrity in Grenada and a serious breach of trust”, the judge told De Bourg who brought in three witnesses including musician Preston Holas (Ras Dakari) to sell him to the court as one with good character.
Justice Gilford told the court that DeBourg knew what he was doing but came into the court as an innocent man and tried to pull wool over the eyes of the court and everyone else to make the alleged acts of fraud look otherwise.
THE NEW TODAY understands that a group of influential persons in the country have retained local attorney-at-law, George Prime to mount an appeal on behalf of the convicted DeBourg.
The businessman was unrepresented during his very high profile high court trial after the last attorney, former Attorney-General, Raymond Anthony indicated that he was on longer retained in the matter.
According to a well-placed source, a former high office holder in Grenada recruited Prime shortly after the guilty verdict was pronounced to start the appeal process in motion.
However, Prime was in court to speak on behalf of DeBourg at Tuesday’s sentencing.
DeBourg is a former General Secretary of the ruling New National Party (NNP) and was once known to be part of the so-called “A” Team that had a running battle with current Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell.
The controversial Capbank was given a licence by the 1995-99 NNP government of Dr. Mitchell to operate a bank but it was barred from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) from using its Clearing House facilities.
DeBourg and his bank resorted to using the bank account of a well-known attorney-at-law as a clearinghouse for its cheques.
During the trial, the Prosecution produced evidence to the jury that DeBourg gave instructions for the alteration of the minutes of the Board of Directors of Capbank for the approval of a $10 million E.C dollar loan to his company, Native Hut Ltd., which was responsible for the building of South City Plaza at Grand Anse.
Over time, the loan was increased to approximately EC$50M and the court was told that all 25 stores inside the plaza was owned and operated by De Bourg and his late wife, Esther DeBourg.
The Prosecution also informed the court that De Bourg would often give instructions for CapBank funds to be used to pay off Native Hut’s expenses, such as utility bills.