Superintendent of Police, Claudius Coutain was charged early Wednesday morning by officers attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in connection with a driver’s licence selling racket that was uncovered in the Traffic Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).
According to well-placed sources, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Christopher Nelson who was consulted on the matter gave the instructions earlier in the week to Inspector Earl Dunbar who was spearheading the investigations into the alleged illegal act at the Traffic Department.
A source who asked not to be named said that Supt. Coutain was charged along with businessman Matthew Harris, better known as “Captain Harris” on at least seven counts of conspiracy in relation to the Driver’s Licence scam.
Within minutes of Coutain leaving CID after $20, 000.00 bail was posted for him, a CID team of officers cracked down on Harris and took him to the Department on Green Street to be charged and processed.
Two persons including a retired senior police officer stood bail for Supt. Coutain who is due to make his first court appearance on September 3 at the St. George’s Magistrate’s Court.
Last November, “Captain Harris” was brought to court by police in connection with a crackdown on a major ring that was allegedly engaged in stealing refrigerators, stoves and electronic gadgets from home-owners.
The controversial businessman was charged with receiving stolen goods valued at over EC$30, 000.00 after a number of items were recovered from a property controlled by Captain Harris in the Jean Anglais/Golf Course area.
According to sources, the charges against both Supt. Coutain and the businessman are related to acts of Deceiving the Commissioner of Police and engaging in a Conspiracy to defraud the State of its revenue.
The law provides for licence fees collected on behalf of the State by the Police Force to be paid at the Treasury within the Ministry of Finance.
Supt. Coutain, considered a strong supporter of the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration, was moved out of the Traffic Department in recent months and stationed at the Grenville Police station amidst the investigation.
The case against the senior police officer is built around allegations that Captain Harris recruited persons who were willing to pay a fee “under the table” to purchase a Driver’s licence.
A source who asked not to be named said that hundreds of driver’s licenses were allegedly sold under the scheme.
THE NEW TODAY was told that no one made any specific allegation of making payments to Supt. Coutain to obtain a driver’s licence.
However, a prominent citizen reportedly told the Police High Command that one of his employees was asked to make a payment of EC$500.00 or to engage in sexual acts to get a licence.
The woman is said to have opted to make the $500.00 payment.
Supt. Coutain came under the spotlight when he was transferred from
the Traffic Department and several civilians started to contact different police officers at the Department on the Carenage seeking to purchase Driver’s licenses.
The Police High Command was forced to order a probe into the matter and picked up information that one of their own was allegedly involved in the racket.
When he was taken into custody just over two months ago and
questioned by CID officers, Supt. Coutain refused to answer any of the questions posed to him.
According to a law enforcement officer, this helped to strengthen the case against the senior officer based on evidence picked up as part of the investigation.
Speculation is rife that charges are likely to be filed soon against another senior police officer for alleged wrong-doing.