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Whoever used the card, it was greed – accounts personnel

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Over the span of five months in 2018, purchases on the credit card of Bertille ‘Silky’ DaSilva, managing director of Star Garage, were so ‘rampant’, that whoever was responsible must have been doing it out of greed.

On January 10, Joshua DaSilva, nephew of Bertille and general manager at the Garage, testified that this was the conclusion reached by them and their accounting personnel after the First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) issued Star Garage with statements for the credit card activity during this period.

The Serious Offences Court, in a trial presided over by Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne, was in the process of taking evidence related to 55 charges that Eunice Dowers, a former employee of the Star Garage, unlawfully used the credit card and cheque book of Bertille DaSilva between August 1, 2018 and January 31, 2019.

In total, the amount allegedly unlawfully used by the former secretary-turned customs broker, is said to be over EC$100,000.

Joshua is a witness for the prosecution’s case, which is being led by crown counsel Rose Ann Richardson. Lawyer Grant Connell is on the side of the defence.

Joshua is the individual that is said to have discovered unlawful activity on the card, which he insists is a company credit card, and that ‘Silky’ is only a beneficiary. Joshua told the court that he, employee Marlon Stephenson, and Bertille DaSilva were trying to order some office equipment on Amazon in February 2018, but the site was denying the card.

They called the bank, who told them that the card, with a credit limit of $160,000, had been maxed out.

“When you went into the bank after Mr DaSilva (Bertille) spoke to the bank, after the card was declined, did you receive anything from the bank?” the prosecutor questioned him.
The general manager informed that he had received statements “about how this occurred over a period of time.”

“What I observed about those statements is that, in the period of time between August, September, October, November, December, 2018, the value spent on the credit card during this time, Star Garage hadn’t spent that amount money in the last 10 years.

“They were so rampant,” he said that their accounts personnel, when going through it concluded, “that whoever used the card, used the card to act…not only leave or escape from… whatever they were trying to do is that they didn’t care, it was greed.”

He said they said that the amount of spending wasn’t normal and that it was 15 transactions a day, average.

The statements were given to the police, and admitted into evidence. They were shown to the general manager and he identified the purchases that were ticked as those that the police had been told were known business related transactions.

These were restricted to one or two, or none. They were mostly related to travel, including airfares, and visa fees.

The general manager also noted, like his uncle did before him, that the Garage’s credit rating was affected by the incident. He noted that Star Garage has been a pristine organization in St Vincent for paying their creditors on time and that before this the credit card had never been declined.

When asked by the prosecution, Joshua noted that Star Garage does not make orders for mobile phone top-ups, home accessories, hair accessories, or cosmetics. He answered that this was “not a part of our business model.”

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