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Fraud Squad search Panday's house

By Nalinee Seelal, Newsday

UNC Leader Basdeo Panday's house at Gulf View was searched yesterday by eight Fraud Squad officers led by Snr Supt Wellington Virgil, and Panday was questioned during the 90-minute visit concerning his alleged London bank account.

Panday confirmed this last night and told Newsday that around 2 pm the officers headed by Virgil arrived at his home and conducted the search, but did not take away anything.

The Police refused to comment on their visit to Mr Panday's house.

Earlier yesterday afternoon when Newsday contacted Mr Panday about the Fraud Squad's visit he refused to speak, and put the telephone down. However, around eight o' clock last night he telephoned and said he had thought it over and would confirm the visit.

Newsday learned that Panday cooperated with the officers and provided them with information which they requested. They asked for a statement to which he replied "I have already given a statement to the Integrity Commission, and I have nothing more to say."

Other sources revealed that Panday was asked certain questions which are routine in police investigations.

The source added that Panday is simply assisting the police in their investigations.

Yesterday, Newsday also learned that Virgil met with the Director of Public Prosecutions, Geoffrey Henderson and updated him on his visit to London last week. Virgil was accompanied on the London trip by David West who is Director of the Central Authority of the Attorney-General's department.

The probe by Snr Supt Virgil is part of the investigation which was started by the Integrity Commission, which questioned Panday's failure to disclose the existence of the bank account as is required by the Integrity law.

Contacted yesterday Snr Supt Virgil offered no comment on the matter.

Panday leaves today for Miami on the final leg of his party's overseas fund raising campaign, and will be accompanied by Mrs Panday.

Fraud Squad sources told Newsday that Virgil who visited the National Westminster Bank in Wimbledon, South London was provided under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with information relating to the bank account and other documents. On July 23, Police Commissioner Hilton Guy handed over the investigation to Snr Supt Virgil.

The file on the London bank account had been sent to DPP Henderson on July 18 by the Integrity Commission headed by retired Appeal Court Judge Gerard des Iles. During the probe, the Integrity Commission wrote to Panday asking him to explain the non-disclosure of the London account.

After several letters were sent to the IC, a file was sent to the DPP with certain recommendations.

The Integrity in Public Life Act, which was passed by the Panday 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 in November 6, 2000.

Breach of this law renders a public official liable to a fine of $250,000 and ten years jail.

Fraud Squad shows London documents to DPP

Senior Supt Wellington Virgil, head of the Police Fraud Squad, has updated the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Geoffrey Henderson on his trip last week to London, reliable sources said yesterday.

Virgil and other senior members of the Fraud Squad reportedly interviewed United National Congress (UNC) leader, Basdeo Panday in San Fernando, but neither the Police, nor Mr Panday when contacted, would confirm or deny the report.

Well-placed sources told Newsday yesterday that Virgil went to the DPP's Henry Street office, where he gave an account on the London trip. Newsday understands that Virgil brought back important documents obtained from the National Westminster Bank, copies of which were passed on to the DPP.

The documents have been described as "I saw" evidence needed to carry further the probe into the million dollar account, allegedly held by the former Prime Minister and his wife, Oma.

Virgil, accompanied by David West of the Attorney General's office, left for London on August 12. The Fraud Squad chief returned last Saturday, without West, who is reported to have stayed on for an operation on his leg. Sources said the Fraud Squad head is also expected to make several more trips to countries including Canada; Guyana; Miami and Nassau, Bahamas.

Police Commissioner Hilton Guy appointed Virgil as the chief investigator in the London bank account, after Henderson and a select team of senior lawyers from the DPP's department perused the file sent to them by the Integrity Commission, who after their preliminary probe, made certain recommendations.

The file is to be sent back to the DPP for further directions after Virgil completes his investigations.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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