The final cross-examination of former New Building Society (NBS) Manager, Kent Vincent, surrounded the alleged and questionable transaction, which served as the basis for which three top ranking officials (Vincent included) of the Society were dismissed from duties back in 2007.
Vincent, the Chief Executive Officer attached to Food for the Poor Guyana Inc, is the last witness in the trial.
NBS had faced a similar lawsuit filed by its former Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Maurice Arjoon. The High Court ruled in favour of Arjoon, who had claimed that he and two of his Managers (Vincent and Kissoon Baldeo) were set up and charged.
The trio had faced charges of conspiracy to defraud the NBS of $69M, back in 2007. The sum was allegedly withdrawn from an account belonging to a customer, Bibi Khan, using unverified bogus documents. Arjoon had contended that the charges were trumped up. Citing irreparable harm from the negative publicity and loss of salaries and benefits, Arjoon and Vincent moved to the High Court to seek redress.
In separate lawsuits, the former CEO and the former Manager each claimed $550 million in damages from NBS for the wrongful dismissal.
Yesterday, it was announced by Chief Justice (Ag), Roxane George that attorneys in the matter will make their final submissions in the case when the matter resumes next month.
However, before the matter concluded yesterday, NBS’ Lead Attorney, Devindra Kissoon continued to press the former Manager about the rules, systems, manual and principles which guide transactions at the institution.
The lawyer specifically asked about the process of verifying documents produced to conduct transactions at the Society.
“Did you have to verify the address on the index card before the transaction is completed?”
“Yes, each cosigning officer has to verify the documents,” said Vincent.
“All customers must have a passbook? Or if it is lost, the customer must provide written notice to the bank [NBS]?” Kissoon asked.
Vincent added, “If the rules say so, that is right.”
Kissoon continued by asking, “NBS had written to the staff emphasizing the importance of passbook?”
To this Vincent said, “Yes.”
His response was “Yes,” again when Kissoon asked, “As operations manager, you would know the importance of a passbook. Is that right?”
Referencing the systems manual, the attorney enquired of the witness his familiarity with the use of Power-of-Attorneys to conduct business at the Society.
“During your time at NBS, were there many instances of fraud?” Kissoon asked to which Vincent replied, “No, not to my knowledge.”
Alluding to the alleged suspicious transaction, involving account holder Bibi Khan, Kissoon enquired whether the former Manager had authorized the withdrawal before verifying the authenticity of the documents used.
“In November, 2006 you were one of two officers who authorized the withdrawal?”
“Yes that is correct,” said Vincent.
Kissoon continued, “But before the transaction was done, did you request the production of an original passbook?”
In response, the witness explained that he was informed via telephone that the passbook was misplaced.
“Did you require that an indemnity form be filled out for a replacement of passbook to complete the transaction?” Kissoon asked and Vincent replied “No”.
Kissoon then asked, “So you went ahead and approved the withdrawals without a passbook or a signed indemnity?”
The witness explained that neither indemnity form nor passbook were required for the transactions to be completed.
“But it doesn’t says so in the systems manual,” the attorney retorted.
“Not everything is in the manual,” Vincent replied.
“Tell me, Mr. Vincent, for the transaction to be complete did you require any original signed document?”
“The Power of Attorney (P.O.A) was an original signed document,” Vincent responded.
“And was the Power of Attorney verified by the Deeds Registry?” asked Kissoon to which Vincent said, “I personally did not but it was verified.”
In addition to that Vincent said that he relied on faxed authorization letter from the account holder.
The lawyer then queried whether the fax documents contained an original pen inked signature.
“You can’t have an original pen inked fax, a fax is a fax, Mr. Kissoon,” interjected Chief Justice George as she instructed the Attorney to move on from the line of questioning.
As such, the lawyer quizzed Vincent on his conduct prior to the dismissal from the Society.
Kissoon enquired from the witness whether he deliberately refused to attend a meeting with the Society in 2007.
“I had been charged and my attorney was not available to attend the meeting with me so I did not go,” said Vincent.
“By not attending the meeting you would have vitiated your contract with NBS?” questioned Kissoon.
Vincent replied, “No sir I was under a charge.”
Kissoon continued, “I put it to you that you were dismissed because you were guilty of gross misconduct by the society.”
“No sir, I was not dismissed for gross misconduct but serious misconduct according to the dismissal letter I received,” said Vincent. But Kissoon concluded “that is because you were negligent in the performance of your duties. “
“No sir that is incorrect,” maintained the witness.
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