Attorney-at-law, Venescia Francis-Banfield has denied a claim made in last week’s issue of THE NEW TODAY newspaper that she had violated a court order that requested her to hand over the sum of EC$171, 439.70 in a case filed against her in the high court by the owner of a mansion that she sold for him in Westerhall Heights, St. David’s.
21-year old Nicholas Moller got an English lawyer, Jacqueline Mc Kenzie to sue Francis-Banfield for not accounting to him over the sale of the house, valued at EC$992,161.00 for only $EC450, 000.00 to a Grenadian living in New York in the United States.
Francis-Banfield filed paper in the court matter in which she was claiming almost $280, 000.00 of the $450, 000.00 in legal fees and expenses.
The denial from Francis-Banfield came against the backdrop of moves being made by the English lawyer to write an official complainant to the Grenada Bar Association and the local body responsible for regulating the conduct of local lawyers.
In communication with this newspaper, Mc Kenzie said of the conduct of Francis-Banfield: “We are not going to let Banfield get away with this”.
The English lawyer confirmed to this newspaper that Francis-Banfield was in violation of the February 11, 2014 order of Justice Margaret Mohammed for her to hand over the monies from the sale of the property.
Mc Kenzie confirmed to THE NEW TODAY that she had received a payment of $86, 000.00 from Banfield on Monday, March 10, 2014, one month after the date set by the judge.
She also said that Khan had informed her that the local female lawyer was “too sick” to go to the bank to send over the rest of the money.
When the money did not arrive on Tuesday, March 11 2014, an annoyed Mc Kenzie told this newspaper, “Not sure how illness caused only some of the money to be paid. You are either too ill to attend to the matter or if well enough to make some payment, why not all? Seems a bit odd”.
Mc Kenzie has since confirmed to THE NEW TODAY that the remainder of the funds was eventually paid by Francis-Banfield last week Thursday.
The lawyer also described as “pretty daft and pointless” the release put out by the embattled local female attorney in which she attempted to chide THE NEW TODAY for its reporting on the court matter.
“I can’t see how she has been defamed. I am not keen on these matters being dealt with in the media but I understand that is your job and in so far as your article goes you have been accurate and pretty generous to her.
“The second payment of 86k was made on Thursday (probably because your article was coming out) and we were only able to confirm with the bank on Friday late evening.
“The fact of the matter is that she (Francis-Banfield) was meant to pay the full sum on or before the 11th February. No where did the order give her the right to pay in bits and pieces and the fact that last payment was made on the 13th March, a month later, says it all.
“My client and I both believe that had it not been for your (NEW TODAY) intervention, the second payment may not have been made at all. She told the court that the client’s money was sitting in an account at the Bank of Nova Scotia. If that is the case, why did it take so long for her to pay up? And what about the rest of the money? This is a miniscule amount of the entire claim.
As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces in full the statement put out by Francis-Banfield on the Moller case:
I respond to an article which appeared in The New Today newspaper on Friday 14th March, 2014, written and edited by George Worme. It is rather sad for George Worme to defame me and to deliberately tarnish my character despite his knowledge of the truth when he spoke to me on Tuesday, 11th March, 2014. This is not professional journalism but rather intrusive, unprofessional and discreditable.
The contents of the article and the interpretation are denied. There are a number of matters since 2012. George Worme drifted from the true facts of the matter and failed to enlighten the Public that there were 3 other lawyers sued by the same individual in relation to the very Estates (all lawyers who have worked for the Claimant in the past have been sue). In fact, one lawyer was sued about 4 times and matters therein were referred to the FIU. There were orders made in some matters that were deliberately disobeyed. Unlike the present case referred to.
At no time did I give the public the idea that I am immune from prosecution or litigation. It is a normal part of the trade of this noble profession. In fact, no one is above the law and we all have to adhere to the law at all times. I do my job of representing my clients to the best of my ability.
“I wish to clarify that the matter is before the Court and that is where all the details and information relevant to this matter will be relayed. The article has caused alarm to my mother, father, siblings, numerous friends and clients who were petrified by this event, including the people of River Road, where I hail from, from people who know me and watched me grow from childhood and know my principles and are capable of forming an opinion on my character”.
Francis-Banfield also issued a second press release on Monday giving details of her involvement in the sale of passports scheme run by the one-year old Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NP) government in which she was appointed as a “local agent” to help process applicants.
“Permit me to refer to articles that were written in various newspapers and aired on the airwaves by individuals wherein there were defamatory and libelous statements published stating that I am a passport seller and associated with the likes of crooks, conmen and other hostile suggestions and people of demeaning character.
“I am no way authorized to issue and or sell Grenada Passports that is a matter that Governmental. I am an approved and authorised Agent of the Government of Grenada in the Citizenship by Investment program (CBI).
“I made an application to the Committee, submitted all the required documents, including the applicable fees, and my application was successful. I was not granted any favours by anyone.
“I am also aware that it is a criminal offence for me to sell or procure the sale of passports. I did not make an application for the sale of or procurement of sale of passports.