A 29-year-old man from Arima has been denied bail after appearing in court charged with money laundering close to $300,000 that was stolen from the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation (SJLRC) in a multi-million fraud scam.
Stephen Ramsaroop, of Longden Street, Arima, was remanded into custody after appearing before Magistrate Marissa Gomez in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court on just over 100 fraud charges on Monday.
Ramsaroop was among a dozen people who were allegedly linked to a payroll scam in which the corporation was defrauded of close to $22.5 million.
The other 10 suspects appeared in court last year on charges of conspiracy to defraud, except Ramsaroop, who could not be found by police.
He was slapped with the charges after police managed to locate him, last month. Police are searching for one more suspect.
All the charges relate to varying withdrawals made by Ramsaroop at ATMs in Piarco, St Helena and Valsayn between 2012 and 2017. He is accused of withdrawing the money knowing that it was the proceeds of the fraudulent conspiracy.
During the hearing, police prosecutor Insp Rajesh Lall objected for bail for Ramsaroop as he suggested that he may be a flight risk. Ramsaroop works in his family’s mini-mart in Piarco.
Lall stated that Ramsaroop holds dual citizenship with Canada and could not be located by investigators during their initial investigation. Lall also suggested that a short adjournment would allow police to obtain his international criminal record tracing through Interpol.
Ramsaroop’s lawyer Jonathan Bhagan challenged Lall’s objection as he claimed that his client has a clean criminal record and was willing to surrender his passports to facilitate bail.
Gomez eventually agreed with Lall and agreed to defer the case to April 27.
More about the charges
The charges allegedly arose from an internal audit initiated by the corporation’s former chief executive officer (CEO) Kofi Chapman in 2017.
The 10 people who were previously charged are brothers and fellow SJLRC employees Tallot and Masood Ali, of Bamboo Settlement No 3, Valsayn; Kewyn Charles, a 49-year-old clerk with the Couva/Tabaquite Regional Corporation from Rio Claro; brothers Sadeeq and Zaheer Mohammed, both of Bamboo Settlement No. 2, Valsayn; 29-year-old technician Nizam Ali and his common-law wife Renika Gayah, both of Kanhai Street, Aranguez; James Rodgers, a 42-year-old farmer of Chuma Monka Avenue, Petit Valley; Brandon Dilbar from Evans Street in Curepe; and Irshad Ali of Igneri Road, Valsayn.
All the accused are charged with being part of a conspiracy to defraud the corporation.
Tallot Ali, a checker with the SJLRC, was charged with 100 addition offences for allegedly falsifying his employer’s payroll system to facilitate the scam.
All except Charles were slapped with similar charges as Ramsaroop for the withdrawals they made.
The group is expected to reappear in court on Friday.