Magistrate Court discharges Panday

Magistrate Court discharges Panday
Former Prime Minister of Trinidad Basdeo Panday.
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Eleven years after former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Basdeo Panday was charged with three counts of failing to declare a London bank account, he was freed of them recently.

Magistrate Marcia Murray presiding in the Port of Spain Magistrate Court discharged Panday saying “the court is compelled to stop these proceedings to protect the integrity of the criminal justice system.”

She ruled that the Integrity Commission had erred by not giving Panday a chance to be heard before a tribunal.

That meant he was deprived of due process of law, the magistrate said.

“The misconduct of the Integrity Commission was so serious that it would undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system and bring it into disrepute,” she said.

Panday was before Murray for retrial for allegedly failing to declare a London bank account, contrary to the Integrity in Public Life.

He was accused of failing to disclose the account at National Westminister Bank Plc, Wimbledon, London, to the Integrity Commission for the years, l997, l998 and l999.

In March 2006, Panday was found guilty and sentenced by Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls and jailed for two years.

The former prime minister appealed that decision and conviction, which was quashed and a retrial ordered by the British Privy Council.

Panday’s attorney David Aronberg QC said the background of the whole prosecution was mischief-making in the run-up to the 2001 general election.

He had argued that Panday was not the beneficiary of the account but instead his wife Oma was.

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