Posted on

Prominent lawyer pleads not guilty to four charges

Prominent lawyer pleads not guilty  to four charges

Share

A State prosecutor is questioning why the question of bail was not put forward to prominent lawyer Samuel Commissiong when he appeared in court yesterday.

Commissiong, who pleaded not guilty to four charges of tax evasion at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, was not set bail conditions by magistrate Bertie Pompey, but was allowed to leave the court.

Crown counsel in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Karim Nelson asked the magistrate why the question of bail did not arise.{{more}}

Pompey explained that because Commissiong was summoned before the court, bail does not arise, as opposed to if police had arrested him.

However, Nelson said his understanding of the law is that when someone is in the custody of the court, bail should be considered; Pompey did not agree.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT after the court, Nelson quoted Section 43, subsection one of the Criminal Procedure Code and stated that the law doesn’t make a distinction for the purposes of bail.

He read, “When any person other than a person charged with murder, genocide, high treason or misprision of treason appears or is brought before a court or is committed for trial by any court and is prepared at any time or at any stage in the proceedings, before such court to give bail. Such person may in the discretion of the court be admitted to bail with or without sureties.”

Nelson added that his argument is that it doesn’t matter how someone is brought before the court, bail should be considered.

Commissiong was jointly charged with David Ames, the founder of Harlequin Hotels and Resorts (parent company of Buccament Bay Resort Ltd and Harlequin Property SVG Ltd), who did not show up for court yesterday.

Ames faces charges of theft under the Criminal Code, tax evasion, pursuant to Section 81 of the VAT Act and failure to pay the Comptroller of Inland Revenue, pursuant to Section 134 of the Income Tax Act.

Nelson told the court that it is believed that Ames has left the jurisdiction.

Yesterday, Commissiong said he is being represented by Parnel Campbell QC, but asked the court for more time to deal with the matter, as Campbell is ill.

Commissiong, who is the solicitor and secretary for Buccament Bay Resort Ltd and Harlequin Property SVG, was charged that between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013, failed to pay the comptroller the amount of $404,740.09 deducted from remuneration paid to employees, between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012 failed to pay the comptroller the amount of $886,818.05 deducted from remuneration paid to employees, between February 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012 wilfully evaded the assessment payment or collection of VAT in the amount of $2,754,132 and that between February 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011 wilfully ended the assessment payment or collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the amount of $808,405.

The matter is next expected to come up for hearing on August 5, 2016. (AS)

LAST NEWS