After a short delay of approximately two (2) weeks, the much-anticipated Reynold Benjamin fraud trial finally got under way on Monday, before female High Court Judge, Justice Paula Gilford at the St. George’s No. 1 High Court on St. John’s Street.
The long-standing attorney-at-law is facing an 11-member jury panel in a case in which the State team is being led by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Christopher Nelson QC who called his first witness to the stand when the matter continued on Tuesday.
THE NEW TODAY understands that DPP Nelson QC, has a total of five (5) witnesses to give evidence in the matter against Benjamin.
According to a source who wished not to be identified, Madam Justice Gilford granted the Prosecution’s request for a short adjournment in the matter on Tuesday, to allow for the recovery of some exhibits in the case that seemingly disappeared from where they were being kept at the Supreme Court Registry building on Church Street.
The Benjamin fraud trial was expected to recommence in earnest, today Friday (February 8).
The attorney is facing two (2) counts of Fraudulent Breach of Trust involving EC$845, 000 in connection with the failed Capital Bank International of convicted businessman, Finton De Bourg.
The lawyer is accused of fraudulently misappropriating the monies and using it for his own benefit.
Benjamin was arrested in May 2008, following investigations by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), into alleged crime committed during the period December 2002 – August 2007.
He was retained by Capbank to fight a decision of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) to refuse the DeBourg-led controversial bank into its Clearing House facility in order to allow the local financial institution to issue and clear its own cheques.
DeBourg had applied to the 1990-95 Congress government of Prime Minister Sir Nicholas Brathwaite for a license to operate a bank but it was turned down.
However, when the New National Party (NNP) took office in June 1995, the incoming Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell overturned the decision and granted DeBourg the license to operate the bank.
THE NEW TODAY understands that in the face of the ECCB decision, Capbank devised a number of schemes to by-pass the ECCB position including the use of the bank accounts of several locals such as former Governor-General, Sir. Daniel Williams, to conduct financial transactions.
Capbank eventually ran into trouble when there was a run on the bank by customers when it failed to return a deposit of one million E.C dollars belonging to a native from the sister isle of Carriacou.
When depositors approached the bank to take out their funds, Capbank could not make payments and government was forced in 2008 to appoint Accountant, David Holukoff, the former Chairman of the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme, as the receiver.
Holukoff discovered that Benjamin was allegedly holding $845, 000 for Capbank and wrote him to return the money which was not done.
The Receiver filed a complaint with the FIU of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) that the CapBank attorney did not use the monies to do what he was supposed to do and the monies were not returned to the Bank.
If convicted, Benjamin faces a maximum penalty of five (5) years imprisonment on each count.
Benjamin has retained the services of attorneys Dr. Francis Alexis, QC and George Prime to assist him.