Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Witness sees sign of money laundering

Published:Monday | November 25, 2019 | 12:11 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

Cash expenditures of Sanja Elliot, the accused former deputy superintendent of roads and works at the Manchester Municipal Corporation, were indicative of money laundering, according to Desmond Robinson, financial forensic examiner at the Financial Investigation Division.

Robinson was on the stand on Friday at the Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial at the Manchester Parish Court.

He said Elliott’s acqusition of a property at 14 Daley’s Grove and an apartment complex in Knockpatrick were done through cash transactions, including the purchase of materials and the payment of labour. The examiner revealed that there were no loans associated with either of the properties.

Robinson added that there were several cash payments made in relation to credit card expenditures as the cards were used to purchase construction materials.

He revealed that more often than not, these cards were preloaded, so a card with a $500,000 limit would allow the cardholder to use it for transactions of up to one million dollars.

The examiner added that on several occasions, the amount spent was well in excess of the credit card limit.

According to the expert witness, the purchases were not supported by Elliot’s salary or any other source of identifiable income.

In cross examination, attorney Norman Godfrey made mention of receipts for payments ranging from $6,000 to $20,000 and asked the witness if those were unusual transactions. He said that they were not.

Godfrey then asked the witness if he was familiar with the practises of the building and construction industry, to which he responded in the negative.

The attorney, who represents Elliott, later asked the witness if he was aware that up to 2013, there was no limit on cash transactions not exceeding one million dollars, and he answered in the affirmative.

Godfrey then sought to establish that Elliott was qualified in construction and draftsmanship and did work himself on his properties.

However, the witness maintained that the declaration of income made by Elliott showed that he was employed to the municipal corporation and that he was a used-car salesman, although there was no proof of income coming from the latter.

Godfrey asked the expert witness whether failing to make a statutory declaration could be considered a sign of money laundering.

“Technically yes,” Robinson replied.

The matter continues in the Porus court today.