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Crown points to the possession of criminal property


THE $400-million Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial ended on Friday, May 15, 2020 with the conviction of main accused 35-year-old Sanja Elliott, the corporation’s former deputy superintendent of road and works; his wife, Tasha-gaye Goulbourne-Elliott; two former employees of the corporation, David Harris, secretary/manager and acting chief executive officer, and Kendale Roberts, temporary works overseer; as well as Dwayne Sibblies, a former employee of Sanja Elliott.

Those freed at the end of the trial were Sanja Elliott’s mother, Myrtle Elliott, and former commercial bank teller Radcliff McLean.

In January, Sanja Elliott’s father and husband of Myrtle Elliott, Elwardo, was the first to be freed.

The charges included conspiracy to defraud, engaging in a transaction that involves criminal property, several counts of possession of criminal property, facilitating the retention of criminal property, obtaining money by means of false pretence, causing money to be paid out by forged documents, an act of corruption, and uttering forged documents.

The Jamaica Observer continues its publication of the Crown’s closing submission, prepared by prosecutors Channa Ormsby, Patrice Hickson, and Jamelia Simpson, as well as Kamesha Campbell, attorney on fiat from the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, and presented to the court in the case against the seven.

 

 

MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES

COUNTS 2-14,18,20,21,23

 

[238] The indictment charges Sanja Elliott, Tashagay Goulbourne Elliott and Mrytle Elliott with money laundering charges pursuant to sections 92 and 93 of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

 

KEY DEFINITIONS OF TERMS

[239] Section 91 of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) states inter alia, that money laundering is an act which constitutes an offence under Section 92 or 93 of POCA. It has also been defined as applying to the process by which funds derived from illicit activity are given apparent legitimacy and describes the process of cleaning the money. It refers to all procedures, methods and transactions designed to change the identity of illegally obtained money so that it appears to have originated from a legitimate source.

 

[240] In the Director of Public Prosecutions (appellant) v AA Bholah (respondent) Lord Kerr stated, “Indeed, the very purpose of money laundering is to conceal the provenance of illegally acquired wealth. It can be notoriously difficult to gather evidence of the specific criminal origin of the laundered property.”

 

[241] The evidence presented by the Crown shows that Mr Elliott was engaged in different methods and transactions to disguise and funnel his criminal proceeds into the formal system. Namely, through:

• Encashment of fraudulent cheques: The illicitly obtained money was spread across several accounts jointly held by Mr Elliott and other family members.

• Layering: The cash was funnelled through wire transfers and manager’s cheques used to purchase land, and large cash deposits were paid to credit cards among other.

• Integration: The proceed was used to make several purchases of real estate, build house and apartment complex; financial investments; overseas trips and large scale construction purchases.

 

COUNTS 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11 &12

POSSESSION OF CRIMINAL PROPERTY – SECTION 93(1)

 

[242] Mr Elliott is charged separately with seven counts of possession of criminal property in relation to real estate and cash deposited to several of his bank accounts.

• Count 3 Sanja Elliott, on divers dates between the 1st day of June 2013 and the 31st day of September 2013 in the parish of Manchester, did possess the sum of $4,340,000 and at such time of possession knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that said sum was criminal property.

• Count 4 Sanja Elliott, on divers dates between the 1st day of February 2016 and the 30th day of June 2016 in the parish of Manchester, did possess the sum of $2,290,000 and at such time of possession knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that said sum was criminal property.

• Count 5 Sanja Elliott, between the 1st day of January 2015 and the 31st day of December 2015 in the parish of Manchester, did possess the sum of $5,262,300 in your Jamaica National Building Society Account #11181892 and at such time of possession knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that said sum was criminal property.

• Count 6 Sanja Elliott, between the 1st day of March 2014 and the 30th day of November 2014 in the parish of Manchester, did possess the sum of $10,415,000 in your Jamaica National Building Society Account #11181892, and at such time of possession knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that said sum was criminal property.

• Count 10 Sanja Elliott, between the 1st day of January 2014 and the 31st day of December 2014 in the parish Manchester, did possess the sum of $10,070,000 and at such time of such possession knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that the said sum was criminal property.

• Count 11 Sanja Elliott, on the 19th day of March 2014 and 24th day of June 2016, in the parish of Manchester, did unlawfully possess criminal property, namely, property registered at Volume 978 Folio 227 located at Lot 2, Land Part of Knockpatrick, Mandeville in the parish of Manchester and at the time of constructing same knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that the said property was criminal property.

• Count 12 Sanja Elliott, between September 1, 2011 and December 2013 in the parish of Manchester, did unlawfully possess criminal property, namely, land registered at Volume 954/261 and situated at Lot 14, land part of Daley Grove, in the parish of Manchester and at the time of purchasing same knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that the said property was criminal property.

 

[243] Section 93 (1) stipulates that, subject to subsections (2) and (3), a person commits an offence if that person acquires, uses, or has possession of criminal property and the person knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that the property is criminal property.

 

 

[244] Section 91(1)(a) of POCA defines criminal property as:

Property which constitutes a person’s benefit from criminal conduct or represents such a benefit, in whole or in part and whether directly or indirectly (It is immaterial who carried out or benefited from the conduct).

 

[245] Section 2 of POCA defines property to include inter alia, money and all forms of real and personal property.

 

What is criminal conduct?

[246] Section 2 of POCA defines criminal conduct as:

Conduct occurring on or after the 30th May 2007, being conduct which:

a. constitutes an offence in Jamaica;

b. occurs outside of Jamaica which would constitute such an offence if the conduct occurred in Jamaica.

What is the Crown required

[247] In order to discharge its burden in respect of these counts, the Crown is required to prove the following elements:

• Unlawful conduct occurred;

• That property was obtained through that kind of unlawful conduct.

• Knowledge

[248] The Crown does not have to prove that the property emanated from a particular crime or a specific type of criminal conduct. It is sufficient however for the prosecution to adduce evidence from which the fact finder can infer criminal conduct.

[249] In R v Anwoir and Others, Laws LJ sets out two ways in which the Crown can prove that property derives from crime.

a. By showing that it derives from conduct of a specific kind or kinds, and that conduct is unlawful, or

b. Leading evidence of the circumstances in which the property is handled. In this instance the Crown is asking the court to find that such handling gives rise to the irresistible inference that it is derived from crime.

 

Criminal Conduct of

 

[250] In applying the principles set out in R v Anwoir and Others, we submit that the properties in Mr Elliott’s possession represent his benefit from the scheme he devised to defraud the Manchester Parish Council by recruiting “purported contractors, certifying payment vouchers and invoices that these persons had performed bona fide work on behalf of the council, which culminated into cheques being generated which he caused them to encash and return the proceeds to him.

We further submit that that these cheques provided to the purported contractors by Mr Elliott, or on his behalf, by their very character having regard to the fact that they were obtained by fraud constituted criminal property from inception. Therefore, when Mr Elliott obtained the proceeds from the “purported contractors”, the monies, by their very nature, given how they were procured, constituted criminal property.

Consequently, Mr Elliott was not in lawful possession of the monies he obtained from these “purported contractors” and as such, at the time he deposited these sums to his accounts the character of the property remained criminal property. It did not change by virtue of him funnelling it through the banking system.

NEXT: Sanja Elliott’s large cash deposits

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