Trinidad man, 29, on over 100 fraud charges

Stephen Ramsaroop

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.