Barbados police join multi-million dollar estate fraud investigation

By Caribbean News Now contributor

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — Following a witness statement given to the Barbados police by an individual claiming knowledge of a number of allegedly fraudulent transactions, along with a wealth of what appears to be incriminating documentary evidence, the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit (FCIU) in Bridgetown is reported to be investigating allegations of theft and fraud involving millions of dollars.

As reported earlier this week, startling new documentary evidence of a trail of fraud and money laundering has revealed the apparent involvement of a law firm in Barbados in an attempted theft and the alleged complicity of a Cayman Islands banker, who is now the CEO of a bank in Barbados.

As previously reported, the chain of events begins in Guyana with the death on August 15, 2010, at the age of 82, of Yusuf Mongroo, who was originally from Trinidad but established a well known and extremely lucrative business in Guyana called Horse Shoe Racing, an off track bookmaker. He also owned and raced thoroughbred horses in Barbados and the US.

According to copies of documents in our possession, a cheque purportedly signed by Mongroo and dated August 3, 2010, in the amount of US$4,391,851.00 made payable to Sasedai Persaud, an employee at Horse Shoe Racing, and drawn on Mongroo’s account with First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) in the Cayman Islands, was presented to the bank for payment on or about September 13, 2010, some four weeks after the death of their customer. It is evident from the cheque itself that the date, payee, amount and an endorsement on the reverse were all completed in Persaud’s handwriting.

Although the check in question was made payable to Persaud, it was endorsed by her on the reverse to “Weekes Kissoon Deane”, a law firm in Barbados. This firm attempted to negotiate the cheque through its bank in Barbados, despite having previously been informed that the ostensible drawer of the cheque Yusuf Mongroo had died on August 15, 2010, and knowing that, as a matter of law, the bank’s authority to pay the cheque would have been automatically revoked by the drawer’s death.

In the event, this attempt to remove the money from the account failed because the cheque in question was returned by FCIB on the grounds of insufficient funds in Mongroo’s current account (the bulk of his funds being kept in a certificate of deposit).

Earlier this year, Satcha Kissoon, a partner of Weekes Kissoon Deane, told us that he had “never dealt with this matter in any manner… Malcolm Deane, who has been a partner in Weekes Kissoon Deane since January 2010, has dealt with this exclusively.”

Amongst the copies of documents in our possession is an email dated August 24, 2010, from Malcolm Deane to Hari ‘Ralph’ Ramkarran, a prominent attorney and former speaker of the house in Guyana, who was representing Persaud, in which Deane stated that Persaud “can sign/endorse the cheque when she comes to Barbados and our bankers here will then process it through our US Dollar Account.”

The witness statement now in the hands of the Barbados police claims that Persaud met with Deane personally on September 3, 2010,.

Persaud reportedly flew to Barbados from Guyana on September 2, 2010, on LIAT flight 512, arriving in Barbados at 4:36 pm, where she was met at the airport by another Barbados resident, Maureen Farmer, who took her to the meeting with Deane the following day.

Also said to be present throughout the meeting was a Mr Charles, described as “one of Mr Mongroo’s good banker friends” who apparently told those present that there was then “over three million plus dollars in the account” in Mongroo’s name with RBTT Bank in Barbados. The whereabouts of this money is currently not known. According to the witness, Charles also told Persaud that a well known businessman and racehorse owner in Barbados owed Mongroo BB$800,000 (US$400,000).

The statement goes on to say that Persaud paid Deane a retainer of BB$5,000 and completed the endorsement of the US$4 million cheque to his firm. Deane reportedly claimed to be “a lawyer/financier” and said, if the cheque endorsed by Persaud to his firm was honoured, the money would be kept and invested in Barbados and not sent back to Guyana, a suggestion that was later to cause Ramkarran great concern when he was told about it.

Following the meeting with Deane, Persaud also reportedly signed a document giving Farmer permission to take care of Mongroo’s racehorses in Barbados and to bank monies earned by the horses in races and stud fees. Persaud opened a joint account with Farmer to look after the horses. Again, the fate of the horses and/or any money received by Farmer in this respect is not currently known.

Following Deane’s unsuccessful attempt to negotiate the $4 million cheque, Ramkarran allegedly enlisted the help of Ali Mudeen, the then managing director of ATC Trustees (Cayman) Limited, and also a former employee of Ramkarran in his law office in Guyana, to gain access to the funds in the Cayman account.

According to the witness, Mudeen also promised to remove the money from the Barbados account and take it to Guyana, where Persaud, Ramkarran and himself would split it amongst themselves.

Mudeen is now apparently the CEO of J&T Bank and Trust in Barbados.

The matter is also under investigation by the Financial Crimes Unit of the Cayman Islands police and, according to a statement by a police spokesperson last year, a “54-year-old woman was arrested in connection with this investigation in March 2012. She was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to steal monies and has been released on police bail while enquiries continue.”

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