A non-custodial sentence has been handed down on former Accountant responsible for the staff’s pay roll at Columbus Communications Grenada Ltd., 41 year old Elvin Chitan, who pleaded guilty to money laundering, fraud and stealing by reason of employment late last year in connection with $472, 000.
High Court Judge Justice Shiraz Aziz handed down the sentence Tuesday at High Court No.5 on The Carenage in St. George’s.
Chitan who was employed at Columbus Communication for approximately 9 years, admitted to abusing his authority to steal monies from the company during the period January 1, 2010 – February 27, 2015.
The resident of Defoo in Springs is a prominent elder at the Woodlands Seventh Day Adventist Church and several church members showed support for him by turning up at Tuesday’s sentencing.
In mitigating his case, Chitan’s attorney, Richie Maitland, who was holding for his colleague, Peter David asked the court for a non-custodial sentence, indicating the willingness of the accused to repay the stolen monies.
In addition, an official from the company’s management indicated to the court that it wants the monies returned.
Attorney Maitland informed the court that his client is in a position to repay the monies as he has found full time employment with a company called Tropical Paradise Ltd..
He spoke of Chitan having responsibility with his new employers to review financial accounts and rate variation and collects a monthly salary of approximately $2, 500.
In handing down the sentence, Justice Aziz, who described Chitan’s actions as a serious breach of trust given the confidence that was placed in him and the position that he held, granted the company’s
The judge expressed the view that the offence was well thought out by the accused and described the action to steal the money as being completely out of character.
Chitan was given a three-year suspended sentence, which has been suspended for a period of two years and was fined $30, 000, to be paid in three years in disbursements of $833 per month, with the first payment to be made on or before April 28 until complete repayment of the funds.
He was also ordered to repay Columbus approximately $4, 000 per month until the full repayment of the monies owed to the company.
Prior to the sentencing, the court had granted an injunction to freeze a portion of money in his bank accounts at Republic Bank Grenada Ltd., amounting to “$70, 174.41 and a cheque valued at “$7, 453.73 for his pension.”
According to the judgment, these monies will now have to be forfeited and returned to the company.
Chitan was also ordered to complete 200 hours of accounting based community service within 12 months in a government office.
An embarrassed Chitan placed on record his utter remorse and embarrassment for his actions.
“I stand here to make an apology to Columbus for my betrayal of trust and not being the person that I should have been…I apologise to the court for excessive work caused. I have learned my lesson profoundly and I am truly, truly sorry”, he told the court.