August 9, 2020

Lawyer Gollop slams Parris’ charges

Attorneys for former CLICO Chairman Leroy Coleridge Parris will be seeking judicial review, on a certificate of urgency, as early as next week, over Magistrate Kristie Cuffy-Sargeant’s decision to proceed with four criminal matters against the former insurance executive.

Lead counsel Hal Gollop, Q.C. served notice of that intention today after raising several questions about the offences his client allegedly committed while at the helm of the now defunct CLICO, and the procedure under which the charges were laid.

“For this matter to continue down here, a court must be satisfied that . . . CLICO International Life Insurance Limited in Judicial Management has locus standi to bring an action to start, and that locus standi is not an independent locus standi,” he told  reporters after his client was granted $1.5 million bail.

Earlier, just before 11 a.m., 75-year-old Parris, of No 8 Dayrells Heights, St Michael, was escorted across the precincts of the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court where his wife and friends, along with Gollop, Michael Yearwood Q.C., Michael Lashley Q.C., and Neil Marshall had been waiting since shortly after 9 a.m.

But before the fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and theft charges could be read by Cuffy-Sargeant, Gollop rose to make submissions which questioned the validity of the charges before the lower court.

Parris is accused of stealing BDS$3 333 000 belonging to CLICO International Life Insurance Limited, between December 1, 2008 and April 27, 2009.

It is further alleged that during that period, he conspired with other persons to defraud CLICO International Life Insurance Limited of the amount by inducing the insurance company to pay out the money to Thompson and Associates, the law firm of late Prime Minister David Thompson.

He is also charged that, between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010, he conspired with others to cheat the Crown and the Commissioner of Inland Revenue of public revenue, by failing to submit tax returns to the Commissioner or account to the said Commissioner for taxes on his income, for the year ending March 31, 2010.

The fourth charge states that between December 1, 2008 and April 27, 2009, Parris engaged in money laundering, where he concealed BDS$3 333 000 – the proceeds of crime. He was not required to plead to the indictable charges.

However, Gollop argued that there was no entity named CLICO International Life Insurance Limited in Barbados, as per a ruling handed down by the Court of Appeal on March 16, 2018, arising out of a civil suit. That judgment saw the name of the company amended to CLICO International Life Insurance Limited in Judicial Management.

“Because CLICO [International] Life Insurance Limited in Judicial Management is
. . . now a creature of the Barbados High Court, anything coming out in respect of CLICO Life Insurance Limited under Judicial Management has to come under the authority of the High Court. The entity has no independent locus standi, so that if CLICO under judicial management wishes to bring anything before a court, it has to be on an order from the High Court.

“So, on the face of it, this charge has no validity,” Gollop argued.

As Parris quietly sat in the dock, his lead counsel went on to point out that the High Court matter, in respect of a Court of Appeal decision, involves the same charges now before Magistrate Cuffy-Sargeant.

“So that, jurisprudentially, the matter is sub judice in the High Court of Barbados,” the attorney added.

In that case, in which Parris, his company, Branlee Consulting Services Inc., and the estate of David Thompson were the appellants, and CLICO International Life Insurance Limited in Judicial Management was the respondent, the former insurance boss claimed that the $3.3 million was gratuity payment due to him and not a sum belonging to CLICO, while the entity alleged that the money belonged to it. That matter, Gollop said, was left undetermined and was still before the court.

“So, how on earth, before that matter is determined in one way or the other, can an entity that does not exist – as I said it cannot exist on its own volition – . . . have Mr Parris on a criminal charge which is the subject of a High Court matter which is undetermined? It just cannot happen in our jurisdiction,” the Queen’s Counsel insisted.

He added that under a previous court ruling, Parris, who was the first defendant/judgment debtor, was ordered to pay $1 109 754. 41 inclusive of interest and cost of $23 941. 50; while the second defendant, Branlee Consulting Services Inc./judgment debtor was ordered to pay $3 328 291. 80, also inclusive of interest and costs of $23 941. 50, to CLICO International Life Insurance Limited, which was the claimant/judgment creditor.

“So, CLICO International Life Insurance Limited in Judicial Management has the money. The money was paid over – that same $3.3 million together with interest and costs, taken from an account at Nova Scotia Bank held by Branlee Consulting Services Inc.  So how can they . . . bring a criminal charge against him, how can they do that? That’s an abuse of process. They are telling a lie. Here they are saying this man is the judgment debtor, so they are saying he is a thief. Those two things cannot be compatible.

“There is no reason to have Mr Parris before you. They can only come in here under the authority of the High Court of Barbados, and even if they come in here have they been given authority? They have already admitted that the money has been paid back in a similar suit. What will be the purpose of bringing this action at this time, I must ask?” Gollop questioned.

In response, prosecutor Station Sergeant Cameron Gibbons told the magistrate he was not in possession of any of the information to which the defence attorney alluded. He said he had four criminal charges which would be transferred to the High Court once the magistrate ruled there was enough evidence for the accused to answer those charges.

“Counsel, your application is denied, whatever your application is. Mr Parris, stand,” Magistrate Cuffy-Sargeant said as she proceeded to read the charges, moments before two sureties – one in the sum of $900 000 and the other $600 000 – posted Parris’ bail.

Parris was also made to surrender his travel documents and told that he must apply for permission to leave the jurisdiction.

He must also report to the Glebe Police Station every Monday and Friday before noon, with valid identification, and return to court on November 19.

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