Four men arrested and charged in connection with the Lambirds Academy scandal were denied bail when they appeared in a Castries Magistrate’s Court on Friday, April 10.
This is the second time Iftekhar Ahmed Shams, Koushal Kumar Batukbhai Chadasama, Ashwin Kanji Patel and Gurjeet Singh Vilkhu were being denied bail.
The men are now represented by Marcus Foster. Leslie Mondesir was their previous attorney. The next court hearing is April 24.
All four are charged with human trafficking in connection with an alleged internet scam at Lambirds Academy that left a group of some 70 foreigners – mainly from Nepal and The Phillipines – stranded in St. Lucia.
Shams, the chief executive officer of the company, was the only one charged with money laundering. Police said he laundered EC$706,584.18 on Thursday, February 19, 2015 at the Rodney Bay branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia.
The alleged students claimed that they paid at least US$9,000 each to an agent from their region to secure a place at Lambirds Academy in Gros Islet, St. Lucia.
At the Academy, the prospective students were to be trained in hospitality management and promised employment in the United States of America after completing the one-year programme. However, when the foreigners arrived in St. Lucia to register for classes, the Academy was closed.
According to police sources, the visitors claimed to have mortgaged land and borrowed money to get to St. Lucia and to finance the course. One student claimed that he spent over US$12,000 for his plane ticket and other expenses to get to St. Lucia.
The government have since sent home some of the students and are working to repatriate the rest.