A Bangladesh national, who claimed to have paid US$7,600 (EC$20,520) in admission and tuition fees to Lambirds Academy, is desperately seeking a refund.
The foreign national, who identified himself as Saydur Rahman, revealed his intention in a message sent to 16 email addresses, mainly of senior police officers, including the police commissioner, as well as the Gros Iset Police Station and the police control room. The message was also sent to a government press secretary email address.
Rahman claimed he applied for a level 3 diploma in professional cookery and bakery at Lambirds Academy Inc. and had already obtained the stamped visa in his passport from the Saint Lucia immigration and passport office. He alleged that the visa number is 003/15 which (was) signed by the chief immigration officer on January 13, 2015.
“I already send my admission fees and tuition fees in total US$ 7600 through the Commercial Bank of Ceylon and The City Bank Limited through TT to Lambirds Academy Inc. account,” Rahman said (verbatim) in his email, which included the bank wire details for Lambirds and the Bank of Nova Scotia (Rodney Bay branch).
Rahman said after he learned that Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed Shams, president and CEO of Lambirds Academy Inc. was arrested, he contacted the institution “several times for refund (of) my tuition fees”. However, he claimed they told him it was too late to get the refund because Shams was arrested.
The foreign national said he contacted a senior police officer who responded to him on March 17, 2015, as follows: “I am in receipt of your request, at this time I can only indicate to you that this matter is currently under investigation here. I cannot refund you any money until the court case has been decided and the magistrate has made an order. I would suggest you retain all documents of your transaction with that institution to possibly facilitate a refund if and when that can happen.”
Rahman said when he again tried to contact Lambirds for his refund, he saw a report on St. Lucia News Online (SNO) that stated that Shams was in police custody.
Shams – like the other three Lambirds officials who were arrested – was eventually granted bail in the sum of $637,000 – $35,000 on each of seven charges, and $8,000 each on 49 charges of obtaining money by deception.
The prosecution had reportedly planned to appeal the court’s decision. It is not clear whether the matter was appealed or if Sham has paid for his release.
Rahman said his situation is “hopeless” and he wants to know how he can recover his money.
“Kindly help me to refund my tuition fees as I was send through with the proper evidence of International Bank rules,” he said (verbatim) in the email. “I am eagerly waiting for your reply.”
A senior police officer has confirmed that the email was received, but said there is nothing the authorities can do at this time.
“He is not the only person who is requesting a refund, but the law is the law. He just has to wait for the conclusion of the case and how long that takes we don’t know,” the senior officer told SNO.
Over 70 foreign nationals were left stranded in Saint Lucia by the scandal, which has led to the closure of the Academy and the arrest of four alleged members of the management team, including Shams. They were charged with human trafficking and money laundering.
The money laundering trial begins on August 12 at the Gros-Islet Court, and the human trafficking and forgery charges trial begins July 29 at the Castries Court.
Some of the students have since been repatriated.