Jury will decide the facts

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie began his instructions to the jury on Tuesday afternoon in the trial of Raymond Frank Creed on four charges of money laundering.

The charges were serious, he pointed out, because without money laundering, the person who commits a crime may not be able to benefit from it.

The alleged offences are said to have occurred between August 1998 and April 1999.

The essential elements of each charge are that a man named Ken Taves committed criminal conduct by defrauding 900,000 credit card holders in the US; that conduct generated proceeds of which some $25 million made its way to Cayman; that Raymond Creed became involved in an arrangement that facilitated Taves’ control of some of the property that was the proceeds of criminal conduct or that Creed did an act to conceal or disguise some of the property.

The crucial mental element is whether the defendant knew or suspected that the property was the proceeds of criminal conduct.

The Chief Justice reminded jurors that it was always their responsibility to judge the evidence and decide the facts of the case, which they have been hearing since the trial started on 20 March.

They were not bound to accept the arguments of either Solicitor General Cheryll Richards, who conducted the prosecution, or Attorney Delroy Murray, who with Attorney Steve McField conducted the defence.

The Chief Justice also told the jurors that, if he expressed views on the evidence as he summed it up, they should not adopt his views if they did not agree.

Jurors should use their own common sense and experience of the world in evaluating which evidence was reliable and which was not, he indicated. But he warned them not to speculate on things for which there was no evidence.

Another warning concerned the evidence of an expert witness in the field of document examination. This witness had given his opinion that certain questioned signatures had been written by the defendant.

It would be quite wrong for the jurors themselves to try to compare the handwriting or do any tests on their own because they were not trained. But it was up to the jurors to say if they accepted the expert’s findings or not.

One question the jury has to decide is whether the acquisition by Creed of property in California was a genuine transaction or whether it was an arrangement to allow Taves to retain control.

The Chief Justice instructed the jurors to bear in mind that Creed has not been charged with any criminal offence in California. The property in question there was given to the receivers in charge of liquidating Taves’ assets so that credit card holders could be reimbursed.

But that was no basis on which jurors could conclude that Creed had acted fraudulently. One reason is that it was civil action, in which proof is not to the same standard as in a criminal action. They were to look at the transaction, not at the outcome.

Instructions to the jury and summary of evidence were expected to continue on Wednesday and perhaps on Thursday. The Chief Justice said jurors should not feel rushed and the matter would take as long as it takes. It might continue into next week, if necessary.

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