Customs fraud case could be thrown out if file not ready in January

(From left) Foston George, Joesine Christian and Rowan Matthew (File photo)
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By Latrishka Thomas

[email protected]

The police now have until January 5 to complete the file in the high profile court case in which a Customs officer and two brokers are accused of fraud.

Early in August, Customs officer Joesine Christian and brokers Rowan Matthew and Foston George were jointly charged with conspiracy to defraud in relation to a 2017 incident in which Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s signature was reportedly forged.

The crime in which the three accused reportedly gained a large sum of money is alleged to have taken place in November 2017 at the Deep Water Harbour.

The committal hearing for the trio was due to have taken place already but the case file was not complete on the previous occasions when the defendants appeared in the St John’s Magistrate’s Court.

Yesterday, the prosecution indicated that they were still not ready to proceed because the DPP had given them specific amendments to make to the file. In addition, the investigating officer is currently overseas.

Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh gave the prosecution one final opportunity to get their ducks in a row or else the case will be dismissed for want of prosecution.

Christian is also charged with cheating the public revenue and corruption in public office.

The two brokers are facing additional charges of obtaining money by false pretences and making a false declaration.

The investigation into this incident began about two years ago after PM Browne informed the authorities that his signature had been forged.

It wasn’t until July of this year that law enforcement apparently had a breakthrough and charged the trio.

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