Girvan gets 8-year sentence

Term meant to deter financial crime

Although former investment manager
Robert Christopher Tom Girvan pleaded guilty to 18 counts of theft and three
counts of money laundering, Justice Alexander Henderson said he regarded
Girvan’s behaviour as a single criminal enterprise over a long period at
considerable cost to investors.

The judge therefore rejected the
idea of imposing separate sentences. Instead, he agreed with Defence Attorney
Ben Tonner that the principle of totality or “global approach” was appropriate.
Starting at 11 years and giving a three-year discount for the guilty pleas, he
sentenced Girvan to eight years’ imprisonment on Tuesday afternoon.

After hearing from Crown Counsel
Kirsty-Ann Gunn about sentencing precedents, Justice Henderson said not many features
of this case distinguished it from other breach of trust cases, except for the
amount of money taken — almost US$19 million.  

He said sentencing had to consider
protection of the public and rehabilitation of the offender, but in his view
the paramount consideration in this case was deterrence to others.

Both attorneys categorised the
various ways in which the thefts occurred, but the judge said he did not make
much distinction: “Stealing is stealing,” he said. He did note the offending
had been a complex web to unravel and commented that investigators had done a
thorough job.

Girvan’s thefts totalled
US$18,986,500.64 between 2004-2008 while he was associated with entities known
as the Grand Island Funds. During the hearing this week he was variously
referred to as portfolio manager, trader, partner and investor. Details of the
charges were published in the Caymanian Compass edition on 13 August.

Of the amount stolen, US$4.7
million was recovered as part of the liquidation process, and Girvan was
required to pay US$4.4 million he was found to have in realisable assets. The
balance was lost in trading.

The US$4.4 million is the subject
of a confiscation order, which was made before sentencing and is not part of
the sentencing process. The judge gave Girvan 18 months to organise these
assets and pay them over. “The maximum default term of imprisonment, regardless
of the amount of money involved, is six months,” the judge noted. He therefore
set six months as the default term if the confiscation order is not complied
with. He asked if the legislature intended to amend this section of the law,
but no one could answer. The six month sentence, if imposed, would be on top of
Girvan’s eight-year prison sentence.

Crown Counsel Kirsty-Ann Gunn gave
a comprehensive summary of Girvan’s offending and the various tactics he employed,
including forgery of documents and forging the signature of his partner in one
company, Naul Bodden.

Mr. Tonner said he would not
comment on why Girvan’s dishonesty was not detected sooner. At first his
investments appeared to flourish, but then lost money. He could not bring
himself to tell anyone, choosing instead to conceal the losses while hoping to
rebuild the funds. The  money laundering
was to cover the thefts.

Both counsel provided details of
Girvan’s background. He is 49, a Jamaican citizen, with a degree in finance
from Texas Christian University. He sold insurance in Jamaica and began
investing as a sideline through his company, Coffee Traders Ltd.

Summarising Mrs. Gunn’s comments in
this regard, Justice Henderson said she could say Girvan had previous
experience in Jamaica and his trading there was not successful, to the detriment
of his clients. Mr. Tonner emphasised there had been no allegation of
dishonesty.

In the present matter, Mrs. Gunn
pointed out that Girvan was “not as helpful as he could have been” to
investigators. He had created a fictitious contact, gave stories as to how
money came into his hands and denied receiving any personal benefit.