Windsor Village fraud claim examined

A Grand Court justice is listening to testimony to determine an award of damages in a case involving Windsor Village.

Cayman General Insurance is now owned by Sagicor General, which bought a 75 per cent stake in the company after the former filed a lawsuit against Alastair Paterson; John Hurlstone; Robert Hurlstone; Crawford Adjusters (Cayman) Ltd.; Hurlstone Ltd; Hurlstone General Contractors Limited; and Bould Paterson Limited.

The Cayman Islands Government received 24 per cent of what was then known as Cayman General Insurance in a negotiated settlement relating to its Hurricane Ivan claim.

During last week’s proceedings, testimony was given by defence witness Simon Dickson of law firm Morant De Jeune, (Quin and Hampson at the time). He testified that Frank Delessio and Danny Scott of Cayman General were seeking his advice.

He said both men thought the work done on the Windsor Village site did not correspond with the amount of money that had been paid out.

Mr. Dickson said it was thought that an overseas expert should be brought in to look at what had been done and ensure that the work was reflective of the money requested by Crawford Adjusters (Cayman) Ltd., a company that employed another plaintiff in the case, Alastair Paterson.

He said his firm enlisted Alan Purbrick of Capital Consulting.

The report produced by Mr. Purbrick was assisted by staff at Quin & Hampson and led to the initial lawsuit, which included claims of fraud.

On the eve of trial, Sagicor General abandoned the case when advised by its attorneys not to proceed in the matter. However, a countersuit action by the defendants proceeded and was successful. The current proceedings are to determine the award of damages.

Presiding over the case, Justice Alexander Henderson has said he is interested in Sagicor’s state of mind with regard to the original action and that legal advice cannot be an excuse when laying charges of fraud that ultimately were not substantiated.

Mr. Dickson testified that by July 2005, there was a feeling that something was wrong and the suggestion was made to go to the Financial Crimes Unit by Charles Quin, then the managing partner of Quin & Hampson.

A Moravia Injunction was then sought by Cayman General, which was assisted by the Financial Crimes Unit, on the basis of potential dissipation of funds and the claim of fraud.

Mr. Dickson said he did not feel that Cayman General was pushing one way or the other in the action, but the company felt that something was wrong.

With regard to why the injunction and the proceedings to prove the fraud allegations took over three years to come to court, Mr. Dickson said it was not because of any dragging of the feet by his firm or Sagicor, as suggested by the plaintiffs. He explained the delay was the result of an order from Chief Justice Anthony Smellie to produce a schedule of construction works known as a Scott Schedule as well as the request by the then defendants for 150 days to respond.

When asked if it were a case of overcharging why was the case not pursued as a construction litigation proceeding and not fraud, Mr. Dickson replied that the overcharging was so extensive that it was deemed dishonest.

He added, however, that the Windsor Village Strata Association wanted nothing to do with the charges of fraud being laid.

Testimony in the trial will continue through this week.