Justice Alexander Henderson heard testimony of personal dislikes and suggestions of conflicts of interest during testimony of Sagicor General Insurance Company CEO Danny Scott in court proceedings concerning the Windsor Village matter last week.
Mr. Scott, who was CEO of what was then Cayman General Insurance Co. Ltd. when the Windsor Village dispute arose, admitted that former CGI Vice President Frank DeLessio had a personal dislike for project manager Alastair Paterson prior to pushing allegations of fraud against him and others.
The current trial is to assess damages for Mr. Paterson, Bould Paterson Ltd., Crawford Adjusters, Hurlstone General Contractors Ltd., Hurlstone Ltd., John Hurlstone and Robert Hurlstone, all of whom were once defendants in the matter. However, they won a counterclaim suit after the original case was abandoned on the eve of trail last December.
Mr. Scott was probed about his knowledge of why Mr. DeLessio, who was hired as Senior Vice President of the company after Hurricane Ivan, seemed to have a dislike for Mr. Paterson.
Mr. Scott said he was aware that Mr. DeLessio, who died earlier this year, had a dislike for Mr. Paterson, but he made it clear that would not be tolerated.
He said he did not know why Mr. DeLessio chose the Windsor Village condominium reconstruction project as the object of his scrutiny and had no explanation for why he was on the site the very day after arriving in Grand Cayman, even though there were more pressing issues to deal with.
After Mr. DeLessio’s site visit, a letter from Patrick Harrigan, who was chairman of the Windsor Village Strata Committee at the time, was received by Cayman General advising that no more payments be made to the contractors, as there were concerns about the work done not corresponding to money paid out to that point.
The site was then secured by the insurers until further inquiries were made.
Mr. Scott maintains however that Mr. DeLessio had nothing to do with this letter and it was all Mr. Harrigan’s doing. Mr. Harrigan denied this in his witness statement.
‘I agree it was dramatic but it would have happened with or without Frank,’ Mr. Scott said.
There is no documentation of any inconsistencies pertaining to the Windsor Village site before the arrival of Mr. DeLessio in evidence.
It was also noted by attorneys for the plaintiffs during questioning that there were no concerns expressed during site meetings reflected in minutes from those attending.
They asked why Mr. Scott never read these, though they were in his office and why he never received a progress report for strata owners despite being a condominium owner at Windsor Village.
Attorneys went on to question Mr. Scott’s credibility by asserting that pertinent information which could have been provided to Alan Purbrick, an expert brought from overseas to do a valuation of the work done at the site, was intentionally withheld.
Other documentation said to have been available and not provided to Mr. Purbrick was the Hurlstones’ accounting.
Mr. Scott said he requested this and was not provided with the information from the Hurlstones.
Mr. Scott was also asked about his 50-per cent share in a company known as Kitchen and Bath Solutions, which was awarded a $600,000 sub-contract for cabinetry work at Windsor Village.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case suggested that as CEO of Cayman General Insurance, as well as an owner of a unit at Windsor Village and a shareholder in Kitchen and Bath, Mr. Scott had conflicts of interest.
When asked why he did not disclose this to the Windsor Village Strata, Mr. Scott replied: ‘Alastair Paterson knew and as project manager, he should have told them.’
The attorneys also probed a discrepancy as to how the Hurlstones left the Windsor Village site, as they were accused of breach of contract.
However, correspondence and phone records in evidence showed that they were in fact trying to contact Mr. Scott and making attempts to re-enter the site.
There was also the question of minutes to a meeting between the Hurlstones and Mr. Scott, documented by the latter at a time when the Hurlstones were not on island. To this Mr. Scott replied that he had simply gotten the day wrong. Both Hurlstones deny attending any such meeting.
Mr. Scott also admitted he was wrong about the day he thought the Hurlstones left the site.
There was also correspondence by Mr. DeLessio expressing anger that the Hurlstones were on site, suggesting they did not walk off as submitted in evidence by Sagicor’s defence attorneys.
Mr. Scott concluded his testimony and testimony in this matter will continue on Monday.
Justice Henderson has ordered an inquiry into Sagicor’s liability to see what role Cayman General Insurance played in the matter, as the initial suit was brought by that company before it was bought by Sagicor.
According to attorneys, costs and damages could run into the millions. The plaintiff’s were already awarded CI$943,000 in costs after the first segment of trial in the matter ended last December.