Trinidad: Trial of former minister on corruption charges to begin January

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Trinidad: Trial of former minister on corruption charges to begin January
Marlene McDonald

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) — January 29, 2021 has been set as the date when the preliminary enquiry against former government minister Marlene McDonald and four others on corruption charges is expected to begin.

That date was set yesterday by Chief Magistrate Maria Busby-Earle Caddle as the matter once again came up for hearing since the charges were laid last August.

Charged alongside McDonald are her long time companion Michael Carew, Wayne Anthony, Victor McEachrane and Edgar Zepherine.

They are facing a total of 49 charges for allegedly attempted to defraud the Government by procuring funds for Carew’s Calabar Foundation, under the guise that it was a charity.

McDonald, 62, is facing seven charges—two for conspiracy to defraud, four for misbehaving in public office and one for money laundering.

Carew, 73, is facing eight charges—three for conspiracy to defraud and five money laundering.

Zepherine, 76, the former chairman of the National Commission for Self Help, is facing 27 money laundering charges and one for conspiracy to defraud.

McEachrane is facing three fraud charges and three for money laundering, while Anthony only has one money laundering charge.

Both McEachrane and Anthony are contractors.

When the matter came up virtually yesterday, the Chief Magistrate questioned McDonald and Carew over the non-presence of their attorney during the hearing.

McDonald said they were both being represented by senior counsel Pamela Elder. The reason for Elder’s non-appearance, she said, was because “there is a little issue we have to clear up and by the next hearing, she will be here.”

The Chief Magistrate said she believed it would have been a bit more courteous if Elder had received some type of correspondence from the attorney.

Criminal defence attorney Larry Williams who appears on behalf of Anthony, informed the court he would attempt to make contact with Elder. A few minutes later, he told the Chief Magistrate he was unsuccessful in doing so.

State attorney Mauricia Joseph said she also attempted to make contact with Elder during the brief period when the matter was stood down, but she too was unsuccessful.

As the hearing progressed, Joseph said statements have been sworn to in the matter but have not been filed.

“The DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) intends to go straight to indictment so they will be filed at the High Court,” she stated.

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