Fraud case against DeBourg close to ending

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Christopher Nelson QC, who is leading the state’s case against controversial banker Finton De Bourg, has taken evidence from all 12 witnesses as the trial draws closer to an end at High Court No. 2 on The Carenage in St. George’s.

Among the high profile witnesses to give evidence against DeBourg are Roman Catholic Priest, Fr. Sean Doggett, as well as Pastor Stanford Simon, owner of One Call Construction Company Ltd., which was involved in the building of the South City Plaza building where the main office of the bank was housed.

Another of the main witnesses was accountant David Holukoff who was initially appointed as Receiver of the Bank by the 2003-2008 New National Party (NNP) administration of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Fr. Sean reportedly lost thousands of dollars in church funds that were lodged in the bank for safekeeping.

A number of criminal charges were brought against the former CapBank Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors in connection with a loan granted by the bank to a company called Native Hut Ltd., which is owned by De Bourg.

The businessmen raised approximately EC$17 million in loans from Capbank dating back to 2002 to construct South City Plaza.

DeBourg who remained unrepresented throughout the duration of the trial faces two charges of fraudulently applying funds of Capital Bank for his own benefit, another charge of falsification of accounts and three charges of falsification of the minutes of the Board of Directors of CapBank.

He was allowed to cross-examine the state witnesses with guidance from presiding Judge, Guyana-born Madam Justice Paula Gilford.

De Bourg put forward his defense to the Court last week Wednesday and throughout the rest of the week called four witnesses to give testimony on his behalf including the Recording Secretary who was employed with the bank part-time sometime between August 2006 and 2007 when the alleged changes were made to the minutes of a particular CapBank’s Board of Directors meeting.

The businessman also called to the witness stand his former personal secretary who is also a current Director of Native Hut Ltd, Michael Bartholomew and an employee of the Supreme Court Registry.

Upon cross examination by the DPP last week Friday, De Bourg’s former secretary gave account to the changes made to three set of minutes of the Board of Directors of the bank upon instruction from the former CapBank Financial Comptroller, Hyacinth Jeremiah.

She testified that one of the documents did not have De Bourg’s signature on it as Chairman of the Board, and recalled scanning his signature onto the document.

However, she was not able to say exactly who gave the instruction to do so and was not aware if De Bourg knew of the instruction that was given to her.

The witness who worked as De Bourg’s personal secretary for approximately five years informed the court that she had never scanned her boss’ signature onto any document prior to the day in question.

The court proceedings revealed that the bank’s auditors had advised for the 10M-overdraft loan granted to Native Hut be transferred into a mortgage loan as the overdraft facility was becoming too high.

The loan, which was originally approved at EC$10M, had at the time increased to approximately EC$16M.

During cross examination of Capbank’s former Financial Comptroller Jeremiah who gave evidence for the state last week Monday, De Bourg contended that the auditors had advised Jeremiah to close the Native Hut overdraft account upon its transfer.

However, Jeremiah stated that he was not aware of this assertion.

De Bourg told the court that he did not personally benefit from the transfer of the Native Hut loan.

According to Jeremiah, although he was the Financial Comptroller of the bank, he carried out his functions through instructions given to him by De Bourg.

Hundreds of Grenadians lost their deposits with Capbank after a run on the bank resulted in many of them not being able to make withdrawal from their accounts.

The current Mitchell-led government paid out EC$300, 000 to some small CapBank depositors.

The De Bourg trial is expected to come to an end next week Monday.

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