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$5M in, $5M out… Panday file goes to police

By Wendy Campbell,

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Geoffrey Henderson has forwarded to the police the file on the alleged London bank account held by United National Congress leader Basdeo Panday and his wife, Oma.

The file had been sent to the DPP by the Integrity Commission to which public officials are required by law to disclose their assets, and that of their spouses.

Reliable sources told Newsday that the Panday file was handed over to the police just after noon yesterday for lawmen to take further action.

Henderson yesterday declined comment on the hand-over, but other sources confirmed the file was first sent to Commissioner of Police, Hilton Guy. Police sources also confirmed that the file was later handed over to Sr Supt Wellington Virgil.

Sources said that since receiving the file from the Integrity Commission last Thursday, the DPP and a select team of senior attorneys had spent many hours studying the contents of the file to determine whether there had been any misbehaviour in public office on the part of Mr Panday.

The issue arose out of a bank account in London in the name of Mr and Mrs Panday which it was alleged contained millions of dollars. This account, it was reported, had not been disclosed to the Integrity Commission as required by law. Mr Panday had denied that he had any account in London, but later admitted that it was his wife's account to which he was a signatory, and that it had been set up for his children's education.

Last Thursday, the Integrity Commission sent what Henderson described as a "particular matter" to the office of the DPP. Newsday understands that the Integrity Commission made certain recommendations.

Henderson had confirmed receipt of the file from the IC, and was quoted as saying that the matter would be "expeditiously dealt with" like all other matters.

The DPP had also said that he, together with a team of senior lawyers in the department were reviewing the matter to determine what action, if any, should be taken. Sources close to the DPP's department said Henderson and the team of attorneys worked through the weekend.

Investigations into the NatWest account started after the Integrity Commission received certain information, earlier this year. The IC, headed by retired judge Gerard des Iles, later conducted a preliminary probe and wrote to the UNC leader, asking him to explain the non-disclosure of the London account and other details.

Last Thursday, the Integrity Commission, after deliberating on the substantive matter, voted to turn the file over to the DPP for attention.

The Integrity in Public Life Act 2000 which was passed by Panday's administration, replaced the Integrity Act of 1987.

The new Act was assented to in October 2000, and came into effect by proclamation by the President on November 6, 2000. Breach of this law renders a public official liable to a fine of $250,000 and ten years imprisonment.

$5M in, $5M out… Movement of money in Panday Account

Between November 1997 and mid-2001, an account in the name of "Diamond Reserve" paid over £582,000 (more than $5M) into a current account in the name of Mr and Mrs Basdeo Panday at the NatWest bank in Wimbledon, England.

During the same period a total of £537,000 was debited from the Panday's account back to Diamond Reserve.

This movement of money in and out of the Pandays' account was in large sums £150,000; £120,000; £119,000; £60,000; £40,000 and smaller amounts for £25,000, £20,000, £10,000 and £5,000.

Payments to Diamond Reserve going out of the account were in sums of £145,000; £127,000, £100,000, £115,000 and £50,000.

The account also showed the payment of £1,000 on the first of every month to a company called St Sampson's Ltd, said to be the registered owner of an expensive apartment at 12A Campden Hill, Kensington, London which is occupied by the Panday daughters.

The account also reveals standing orders for the payment of an allowance of £250 each a month for two of Mr and Mrs Panday's daughters. The bank account also shows credit card purchases from a wide variety of places including Harrods, Versace, Lillywhites, Debenhams, Selfridges and other upscale stores and restaurants in London.

The London bank account has been the subject of investigation by the Integrity Commission which, after receiving answers to questions asked of Mr Panday, forwarded its file to the Director of Public Prosecutions. According to reports yesterday, the DPP has sent the file to the Police for further investigation.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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