No direct evidence, says Defence

There is no direct evidence that establishes that defendant Raymond Creed knew Ken Taves was defrauding credit card holders, Defence Attorney Delroy Murray told jurors on Monday.

He was commenting on evidence presented during Creed’s trial on charges of laundering money for Taves between August 1998 and April 1999.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie was scheduled to begin his instructions to the jury on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Murray said the Crown’s case was based on inference and circumstance, so the evidence had to be carefully analysed.

There was no evidence that the defendant took money from anybody to assist Taves, he pointed out.

A local bank official had given evidence that Creed’s money at the bank was old family money, in excess of three million dollars. One of the things jurors would have to grapple with was a motive for Creed entering into an agreement with Taves regarding the proceeds of criminal conduct.

Mr. Murray said there was good reason to have doubt about every aspect of the Crown’s case.

There were two transactions the Crown had called shams, he indicated.

One was the loan of US$1.7 million from Creed to Taves in 1997. It was to be paid back in two years with $700,000 interest.

A promissory note for the loan was dated 20 February 1997. Immigration records showed that Creed was in Cayman on that date, not in California where he said he gave Taves the money in cash.

Mr. Murray said he was sure that jurors had been left with the impression that the note was signed on the date of the note. In a deposition given in the US in February 2000, Creed had said he believed it was February 1997. It was not a positive statement, but a belief based on the date of the document.

There had been several discussions about the loan. Could Creed’s memory have been faulty? Mr. Murray asked. It had to be borne in mind that the document was prepared by Taves.

The other transaction was a sales agreement for Creed’s purchase of a property in Malibu, California for $2 million. The Crown had questioned the genuineness of the document.

If it was a sham arrangement between Creed and Taves, then Taves’ father had nothing to do with it. But the agreement was signed by Taves’ father as trustee of a trust named after Taves family members.

An attorney who gave evidence as a Crown witness said he had problems with the form of the sales agreement. But, Mr. Murray pointed out, there was no evidence the agreement was prepared by lawyers; it was presented to Creed by Taves’ father and they both signed it.

They were neighbours who had become friends over 20 years and Creed had described Taves’ father as an honourable man.

Mr. Murray also dealt with the question of Creed’s signatures on various documents.

One instance related to a company called Chamonix Investments, which had an account at Euro Bank Corporation. The Crown’s case is that Chamonix was used to receive funds from Taves-controlled accounts and then send them to other Taves-controlled accounts.

A special agent from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had told the court about an interview with Creed for which he took notes. A report written from those notes indicated that Creed had said when he went to see an official at Euro Bank he signed a document about Chamonix.

But there were other things in the report that may not have been as accurate as the agent thought. For example, the report said Creed worked in Cayman as a contractor, but the notes say he was a contractor in Australia before coming to Cayman.

Could it be that what Creed said during the interview was that he signed a document which he now discovered had to do with Chamonix?

Creed had said he went to Euro Bank because Taves had told him to present himself to an official there, since that was from where Creed would be repaid the $2.4 million.

But Taves was washing funds through his father’s account – why would jurors think he would not use Creed? Mr. Murray asked.

Then there had been a fax sent from Creed’s home to Euro Bank with instructions to liquidate the holdings in the Chamonix account.

The Crown had asked who would go to Creed’s house and use his computer and fax. But the jury had heard of a particular individual on the Island who had a close association with Taves – was it far-fetched to imagine her as being responsible?

There was evidence from a Crown witness that Taves was a convicted forger. There was evidence that cheques from a Taves’ company to Creed and with Creed’s signature would probably have been returned to Taves along with Creed’s bank account number.

Was it such a quantum leap that Taves would use Creed’s signature to Creed’s detriment? he asked.

A document examiner had stated it was highly probable or virtually certain that Creed had written the signature on questioned documents. But highly probable and virtual certainty are not absolutes, Mr. Murray asserted, because they leave room for doubt.

Further, he argued, amongst the documents represented as the accepted signatures and handwritings of Creed was one bearing the handwriting of Taves.

Mr. Murray asked if the document examiner really did examine the questioned documents. There was nothing in his report to indicate he examined them for scanning (making a copy). Asked in court about this, he said he did not include it in his report because he saw no evidence of it.

Borrowing a phrase from Johnny Cochrane – the American attorney best known for his successful defence of O.J. Simpson – and elaborating on it, Mr. Murray told the jury, ‘If the signatures and the writing do not fit, we submit, you must acquit.’

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