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Saga of Panday’s London bank account

Saga of Panday's London bank account

Duprey's office, home searched


The saga surrounding Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday’s London bank account continued yesterday as top investigators from the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau raided the Maraval home and Port-of-Spain office of billionaire businessman Lawrence Duprey.

The search for financial documents comes a mere three days before Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls is expected to deliver his ruling against Panday, who is alleged to have made a false declaration of income and assets for the years 1997, 1999 and 1998, contrary to section 27 (1)(b) the Integrity in Public Life Act 1987.

Panday has already told the court in his defence that it was Duprey, executive chairman of CL Financial Holdings Ltd, who gave his wife Oma, £119,183 (TT$1.2 million) as a scholarship grant for Panday’s two daughters who were studying in England.

But called by the former prime minister to support his claim, the insurance magnate admitted giving the money to Panday, not as a scholarship but as financial assistance for the two girls to pursue their law studies.

Duprey also could not remember from which of the company’s accounts the money had been taken.

Investigating officers said yesterday that it was based on Duprey’s and Panday’s testimony about the financial assistance, coupled with ongoing investigations, that detectives obtained warrants late Thursday to search Duprey’s office in Port-of-Spain and his home in Fairways, Maraval.

A team of detectives led by head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Assistant Supt Joseph Edwards, arrived at Clico’s headquarters, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, around noon yesterday to conduct their search for top secret documents.

On arrival at the building the detectives went to the security checkpoint and identified themselves.

They told the guards they had a warrant to search and needed to interview certain people.

After several calls to officials by the security officers, the police were allowed access into the main offices.

As Joseph and his team began searching the office other detectives conducted a simultaneous operation at Duprey’s home.

The search at Duprey’s home did not take as long as that at his St Vincent Street office.

A spokesman described the searches as “a sequel to Panday’s account, tied with other ongoing investigations.”

The source did not want to give too much details. But he said investigating officers were looking for financial documents to support Duprey’s story that he did in fact give Oma the money and from which account it had been taken.

The spokesman said several senior employees of Clico, among them accountants, were interviewed.

The police also examined financial records and diaries. The search at Clico’s office ended after 4.30 pm.

Police said those interviewed were cordial.

Duprey said in his testimony that although he gave the money to the Pandays, he never asked for any “curry favours” from the former prime minister.

Panday is expected to know his fate on Monday when Mc Nicolls delivers his ruling in the case which has generated much public interest.

Panday has retained Queen’s Counsel Allan Newman to represent him while the State has hired Sir Timothy Cassel to conduct its case.

Meanwhile, senior police officers said yesterday that extra manpower would be deployed at the Port-of-Spain Magistrates Court on Monday for the decision.

They said security would be beefed up in anticipation of the many UNC supporters expected to flock the courthouse to support Panday.

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