Prosecution fails to stop questions on access to Petrojam accounts

PROSECUTOR Caroline Haye, KC, failed in her bid Thursday to have Parish Court Judge Maxine Ellis prevent a line of questioning by King’s Counsel KD Knight during cross-examination of Petrojam’s Chief Financial Officer Delroy Brown regarding access to the oil refinery’s bank account with over US$18 million.

“They are talking about the financial arrangement that transferred money in 2022. It is not relevant to what these two accused men are facing and I am repeating my objection on that basis,” the prosecutor said during the trial of Floyd Grindley, the former Petrojam general manager and Perceval Singh, former chairman of the refinery.

Grindley and Singh are being tried in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court in relation to the submission of claims amounting to US$73,620 between December 2016 and May 2018. The claims were made by Dr Singh for overseas travels which were never undertaken. Grindley is alleged to have aided and abetted the ex-chairman in the process used to make the fraudulent claims.

On Wednesday, Knight, who is representing Grindley, quizzed the chief financial officer on whether he knew that up to November 8, 2022 Grindley still had access to Petrojam’s US-dollar investment accounts worth close to US$14 million and US$5.3 million. This was four years after Grindley parted ways with the company.

According to Haye, “There has been no legal principle put forward before this honourable court to demonstrate the relevance of subsequent acts. Four years on, let us assume that my friend is seeking to point to general inefficiency, which we would be entitled to say creates the environment for fraud. Four years after the fact, the condition and the state of the company cannot assist this honourable court. We maintain the position that, in relation to this, it is really not relevant.”

Knight, in responding, told the court that the trial is about Grindley and Singh conspiring to defraud Petrojam. He pointed out that the means by which the conspiracy was arrived at was not clear.

“The particulars state the he induced public funds and the evidence is circumstantial. It beholds the defence, having denied the charge, to present to the court evidence from which the court can conclude that this was not induced.

“If I can establish that one of the reasons was based on inefficiency, not conspiracy, then this is a matter that the court must take into consideration. If the defence establishes that in the particular instances inefficiency was the reason and the defence can show that there is a propensity to inefficiency, then the tribunal of fact and law cannot reasonably or properly convict in those circumstances. If it is that I am prevented from cross-examining to establish that, then it would be a depravation of the right of the accused to challenge and put forward his case. The case presented by the prosecution is haphazard and untoward,” Knight said.

The judge eventually allowed him to continue his probe.

On Thursday, in response to the claims that Grindley may still have access to their account at the Jamaica Money Market Brokers, the company dismissed the assertion and claimed that Grindley is not a signatory.

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