Retired police inspector Cornelius Charles yesterday said during his investigations into the alleged fraud at Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) it appeared the accused Hilroy Humphreys and Elmeade Jarvis made every effort to disguise an alleged fraudulent transaction to ensure it was not traced back to them.
Charles, who led a five-member investigation team into the alleged scam between 1999 and 2002, said there was no Cabinet approval, though one was needed, to show Humphreys was entitled to the $25,811 cheque that was signed by Jarvis, then MBS accountant, on October 15, 1999.
However investigations revealed the sum eventually ended up in a joint account belonging to Humphreys and his nephew Ronnie Bell.
The investigator said no internal auditor could do a review of MBS records and discover the fraud because records showed the cheque was made out to Caribbean Banking Corporation (CBC) and was payable to Joseph Whyte for overseas medical treatment and Humphreys’ name was not recorded on the cheque stub or disbursement logs.
Defence counsel Sherfield Bowen cross examined the ex-cop about whether he would consider it a “disguise” where Humphreys’ name was on the cheque indicating it was to be paid by his order to Ronnie Bell and further whether he was disguising when he put it into his and Bell’s account.
Charles replied, “I don’t think he had a choice at that stage. I don’t think he had much need to try to disguise at that stage. The disguise would have happened at the point where he caused the cheque or may have been influential in causing the cheque to be written to CBC and not in his name as other cheques previously approved by Cabinet showed.”
Bowen showed the witness a document indicating that on August 25, 1999 Cabinet had approved a cheque to pay for Humphreys’ medical treatment overseas. He then asked whether Charles, after seeing that document, would agree the monies were approved.
Charles said no, adding that the $25,811 paid out on October 15, 1999 had nothing to do with the Cabinet decision for Humphreys made in August. He said the cheque for October was in fact made out to Whyte who had never applied, nor was it received by a person bearing that name.
Using another document shown to him by the defence, Charles pointed out that Humphreys received $13,584.50 on August 20, 1999 and that was the sum related to the August 25 decision.
He said based on a letter Bowen presented, the then minister of health Bernard Percival wrote to MBS on August 18, 1999 with instructions to pay Humphreys US $5,000 which was equivalent to $13,584.50. Humphreys received the cheque for that sum two days later and Cabinet made a formal note of it on August 25, 1999.
When asked if he investigated whether any Joseph Whyte was approved for payment by MBS, Charles told the court he did seek information on that by interviewing all the Joseph Whytes on record and none had applied for or obtained the cheque.
Once Bowen was done with the witness attorney Constance Mitchum who represents Jarvis charged that the investigating team did a “sloppy” job.
Mitchum asked the officer why then did he and his team arrest the accused when the cheque was signed and approved by two signatories of MBS — Jarvis and ex-superintendent Cavelle John.
Before getting an answer to the suggestion, Mitchum asked, “Are you saying then that Jarvis and John were fooled into signing that cheque?”
The retired investigator answered, “I don’t believe so. I think the bank personnel was fooled into using the cheque.”
Another member of the investigating team Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Joseph Hughes also testified yesterday.
Attorney John Fuller who represents Joseph began cross-examining ASP Hughes and will continue questioning him on matters concerning the two cheques, one for $15,000 and the other for $9,509.15 which Joseph allegedly received by dishonest means and for purposes other than medical treatment abroad.
Yesterday marked 11 days since the trial commenced on March 9.
The case initially involved seven persons, three of whom are now on trial. The other four were ex-MBS superintendent Cavelle John, contractor Dave George, Lesroy Williams and Joseph Paul. They have all pleaded guilty and paid the state a combined total of more than $1 million.