Bank employee sentenced for breach of trust

A supervisor in charge of bank tellers was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to false accounting and obtaining money transfers by deception.

Luis Errol Castillo, 57, entered pleas in October to obtaining just over $26,700 between December 2005 and February 2006 at FirstCaribbean International Bank.

Sentencing was adjourned because the Crown was seeking an order for confiscation of Castillo’s assets.

On Friday, Mrs. Justice Priya Levers heard the background and mitigation from Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey.

Crown Counsel Gail Johnson explained the process by which Castillo used his position to commit the crimes.

Castillo would write cheques from his accounts at two other local banks for deposit into his First Caribbean account. When he collected deposited cheques from tellers at the end of the day, he would intercept his cheques before they were sent back to the originating banks for clearing.

When questioned, he said he was short of money after Hurricane Ivan. That storm caused widespread destruction in Grand Cayman in September 2004.

An officer of the Financial Crimes Unit detailed Castillo’s assets, including his home and a rental property. His assets were worth $194,901. Castillo made money from rental property and his wife worked.

Mr. Dixey argued that confiscation is not in the law for the purpose of enriching the Crown. Confiscation, as distinct from compensation, is appropriate when it can be seen that the benefit exceeds what was taken.

An example would be stealing $1,000, then betting it on a horse race and winning $10,000. The $1,000 would be returned to the victim and $9,000 be confiscated, he said.

Another example of appropriate confiscation could be a fake charity through which money was obtained from anonymous donors. The victims would not be known.

In Castillo’s case the benefit did not exceed the amount taken and the victim was known, Mr. Dixey submitted.

Mrs. Justice Levers agreed that the benefit was removed once the $26,700.10 in compensation was paid. She did not order confiscation.

At the preliminary inquiry, Castillo said he had let down his family and betrayed the trust of the community.

Since the offences, Castillo has been diagnosed with depression. He was taking sleeping tablets and had lost weight through worry. He would not be re-offending, and his imprisonment would not benefit the community, Mr. Dixey concluded.

The judge referred to other material before the court but not read aloud. Noting Castillo’s age and the fact that he has type II diabetes, she said even one day in prison would be a tragedy for him.

This was a breach of trust and normally would get a substantial term of imprisonment. She initially imposed a term of 36 months suspended for three years. Advised that suspended sentences could not exceed two years, she amended the sentence accordingly.

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