Court hears of travel agency owner’s cash flow problems

A Cayman Islands travel agent blamed cash flow problems, which led to the eventual closure of the business, for several customers being left stranded without valid airline tickets.

A sign outside the door of Sea 2 Sky Travel Agency in August 2012 telling customers to go to police about delinquent tickets. - PHOTO: STUART WILSON
A sign outside the door of Sea 2 Sky Travel Agency in August 2012 telling customers to go to police about delinquent tickets. 

Ingrid Scott, who is accused of taking thousands of dollars in cash from customers without providing valid tickets for travel, took the stand in Grand Court on Tuesday.

Ms. Scott, the co-owner and operator of Sea 2 Sky Travel in George Town, initially denied 29 counts of “obtaining by deception” in connection with the allegations.

At the conclusion of the prosecution case, Justice Richard Williams indicated that he would be directing a not guilty plea on nine of those counts.

She still faces allegations that she took money from 20 customers and never provided tickets.

Ms. Scott said in many of those cases the tickets were for future travel and she would have issued the tickets closer to the date of travel. She said the business was experiencing cash flow problems partly because she had given credit to other customers.

In some cases, travelers did not discover their tickets had not been booked until they arrived at the airport with their bags packed, the court heard last week.

Ms. Scott said in some of these instances, she had planned to issue the tickets but the business closed before she got the chance.

She said all the money she had taken from customers was spent on airline tickets, though not necessarily for the specific customer who had handed over the cash.

“The money was deposited into the bank and tickets that were for urgent travel were issued first,” she said.

She said the business had suffered financial issues, in part because of her system of offering credit to customers who could not afford to pay.

“Some people would request assistance until they got their next paycheck. I tried to use my discretion and assist people sometimes when they were in need,” she said.

She said she had tried to chase up the debts but had not been very successful and eventually the business closed.

Under cross-examination from Crown prosecutor Toyin Salako, she insisted, “I didn’t deceive anyone. I was just trying to keep my business going.”

The trial continued Tuesday afternoon.