December 15 is the date set for sentencing of controversial citybusinessman, Finton DeBourg who has been found guilty of several charges related to the collapsed Capital Bank International in which depositors lost millions of dollars.
After a period of six weeks, the long awaited De Bourg fraud trial came to an end last week Thursday at High Court No. 2, with presiding judge, Justice Paula Gilford remanding him to the Richmond Hill Prisons after he was found guilty on all six counts brought against him by the State.
Charges were slapped on the controversial businessman following the collapse of Capbank International in which he served as the Chief Executive Officer.
De Bourg 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.
Evidence provided during the trial showed that De Bourg gave instructions for the alteration of the minutes of the Board of Directors for the approval of a loan to his company, Native Hut Ltd., in the amount of approximately EC$10M, at an interest rate of 11% when the interest rate should have been at least 3% higher at the time.
After a period of time, the loan had increased to approximately EC$50M and upon the advice of the bank’s auditors, Native Hut’s overdraft loan was transferred into a mortgage loan as the overdraft facility was becoming too high.
The trial revealed that Native Hut Ltd. operated approximately 25 stores inside of South City Plaza building, which was owned and operated by De Bourg and his wife.
Testimony was also given that De Bourg would often give instructions for CapBank funds to be used to pay off Native Hut’s expenses, such as utility bills, which would have contributed to the significant increase in the loan.
Evidence was also provided showing that without the approval of the Board of Directors and the client, One Call Construction Ltd, owned and operated by Baptist Minister, Pastor Stanford Simon, De Bourg gave instructions to create an overdraft facility for the businessman.
The facility, in the amount of $50, 000, was also used from time to time to pay Native Hut’s expenses.
In his defense, De Bourg contended that he never falsified any minutes or accounts and that monies were owed to One Call Construction which was contracted to build the South City Plaza.
He also alleged that the Native Hut overdraft loan could not have been increased to EC$50M as the maximum sum held by the bank at the time did not surpass more than “$30.5M.”
De Bourg said that as CEO of CapBank, he was not in a position to deal with loans and other financial transactions, as there were other persons charged with those responsibilities. The businessman had earlier told the court that the Prosecution did not produce sufficient evidence against him and that the evidence provided by some state witnesses were inconsistent and requested that all the charges be dismissed against him.
However, Madam Justice Gilford did not grant his request and took the position that the state did have a strong case against De Bourg.
Having summed up the case last week Thursday, the Guyana-born female justice instructed the eight-member jury to retire to the jury room to determine a verdict based on the evidence provided to the court during the trial.
After close to 3 hours of deliberation, the Jury returned and delivered a unanimous guilty verdict bringing down the curtains on the lengthy trial.
Speaking to reporters following the court proceedings last week Thursday afternoon, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Christopher Nelson, QC, who led the prosecution’s case against De Bourg, expressed satisfaction that this long outstanding matter has finally come to an end.
“It has been a long time in waiting but finally justice has been served. The wheels of justice do turn slowly” but eventually it would come to a stop,” DPP Nelson said.
“Today it has come to a stop,” he added, pointing out that “the verdict of the jury basically confirms that the management of the Bank by Mr. De Bourg and his conduct as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors left much to be desired. It shows that he in fact has responsibility for the demise of the bank and the fact that many depositors could not recover their deposits,” he added.
DPP Nelson indicated that “recovery of the deposits” is an issue outside of the criminal trial, and one which he cannot address.
Legal sources told this newspaper that the State can seek to recover funds by appointing a Liquidator for Capbank.
According to the DPP, “there is a receivership or a liquidation in place (and that) there might be some hope from that process but from the evidence that was revealed in the criminal proceedings, there isn’t much hope.”
De Bourg, who remained unrepresented throughout his trial, maintained his innocence and obliged to have a social inquiry report and anything else that would assist him at this point.
He faces a maximum amount of seven years on each count and will be sentenced by Justice Gilford in one month’s time at High Court No. 2.