State to produce 22 witnesses against Marlene

For­mer gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Mar­lene Mc­Don­ald has made her first court ap­pear­ance since be­ing charged with cor­rup­tion, last month. 

The Port-of-Spain South MP, her long-time com­pan­ion Michael Carew, Wayne An­tho­ny, Vic­tor McEachrane and Edgar Zepher­ine ap­peared be­fore Chief Mag­is­trate Maria Bus­by-Ear­le-Cad­dle in the Port-of-Spain Mag­is­trates’ Court, yes­ter­day morn­ing. 

 

Since Mc­Don­ald was be­ing treat­ed at the St Clair Med­ical Cen­tre when her co-ac­cused first ap­peared in court on Au­gust 12, Bus­by-Ear­le-Cad­dle read the sev­en charges she is fac­ing to her.

Dur­ing the hear­ing, Mc­Don­ald and Carew’s lawyer Pamela El­der, SC, com­plained about what she said was the po­lice’s fail­ure to dis­close any ev­i­dence in the case over the past few weeks. 

Af­ter con­sult­ing with lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor Se­nior Supt To­taram Dookhie, of the Pro­fes­sion­al Stan­dards Bu­reau (PSB), As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) George Bus­by in­formed the court that in­ves­ti­ga­tors need­ed a min­i­mum of three months to file and serve the state­ments of the 22 wit­ness­es in the case. Bus­by al­so claimed that the num­ber of wit­ness­es may in­crease be­fore the even­tu­al start of the pre­lim­i­nary in­quiry. 

While she did not chal­lenge the claims, El­der sug­gest­ed that po­lice dis­close the state­ments in batch­es so that she and the oth­er de­fence at­tor­neys could be­gin to pre­pare their cas­es. Bus­by-Ear­le-Cad­dle then ad­journed the case to No­vem­ber 4 for an­oth­er sta­tus hear­ing. 

he court­room was packed to ca­pac­i­ty as a large group of Mc­Don­ald’s friends and sup­port­ers ac­com­pa­nied her for the hear­ing. 

Mc­Don­ald, Carew, An­tho­ny, McEachrane, Zephyrine are fac­ing a to­tal of 49 charges over at­tempt­ing to de­fraud the gov­ern­ment by al­leged­ly procur­ing funds for Carew’s Cal­abar Foun­da­tion, un­der the guise that it was a char­i­ty. 

Mc­Don­ald, 61, is fac­ing sev­en charges—two for con­spir­a­cy to de­fraud, four for mis­be­hav­ing in pub­lic of­fice and one for mon­ey laun­der­ing. 

Carew, 72, is fac­ing eight charges-three for con­spir­a­cy to de­fraud and five mon­ey laun­der­ing. 

Zepher­ine, 75, 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. 

The of­fences are al­leged to have oc­curred be­tween 2008 and 2009, but the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion on­ly be­gan in 2016. 

Since be­ing charged, Mc­Don­ald has been re­moved as Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion Min­is­ter and deputy po­lit­i­cal leader of the Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment (PNM).

She re­mains as Port-of-Spain South MP. 

Mc­Don­ald and Carew left the cour­t­house in a chauf­feur-dri­ven SUV and did not stop to speak to me­dia per­son­nel, who camped out­side to try to in­ter­view her. 

Speak­ing briefly with re­porters, Mc­Don­ald’s con­stituent Rol­ston Ba­boolal, who was part of her en­tourage, said he was dis­ap­point­ed with the po­lice’s de­lay in dis­clos­ing the ev­i­dence. 

 

“The way the ev­i­dence start­ed, I see­ing win, win, win,” Ba­boolal said. 

Mc­Don­ald and Carew are al­so be­ing rep­re­sent­ed by Owen Hinds Jr.

Ian Brooks is rep­re­sent­ing Zepher­ine, while An­tho­ny is be­ing rep­re­sent­ed by Lar­ry Williams. 

Reporter: Derek Achong

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