Witness says he gave money for status directly to Ebanks

A man who started working in Cayman in 1981 told a court Wednesday that he gave $1,500 to someone introduced to him as Paul Bodden for the purpose of obtaining status.

Paul Williams was giving evidence in the trial of Paul Anthony Hume Ebanks, who has pleaded not guilty to obtaining property by deception – falsely representing that cash was required as payment for a legitimate grant of Caymanian status. When Crown counsel Toyin Salako opened the case to the jury last week, she said Ebanks took in $164,700 over 30 months.

Mr. Williams said a friend brought “Paul Bodden” to his workplace in September 2013. Later, after he complained to police and gave them the man’s car registration number, he learned that the man was Paul Ebanks.

On first hearing about the scheme for status grants, Mr. Williams said he left work and got into Ebanks’s car. Ebanks told him that Deputy Governor Franz Manderson was godfather to his children and had two status grants to give out. He said Ebanks appeared to make a call to Mr. Manderson. Ebanks took Mr. Williams’s details, including his name, date of birth and when he had returned from rollover. He thought Ebanks was giving the information to Mr. Manderson.

After the call, they went to the bank at the Airport Centre. He said he withdrew $1,500 cash from his account, gave it to Ebanks and asked for a receipt. Ebanks wrote something on a small piece of paper, but Mr. Williams was not comfortable with that so he took Ebanks into the bank. He asked a teller to write a receipt and Ebanks told her what to write. The receipt was for $1,500 and included the phrase “bus. transaction.” Ebanks gave the name Paul Bodden and wrote that signature on the receipt, Mr. Williams said.

The witness said anybody would have trusted Ebanks, who had said he was going to a named church on the island for 20 years, and he was so intelligent.

“While we were coming out of the bank, I hear him say, ‘The camera … you take me under the camera,’” Mr. Williams told the court. He said he thought, “Why should he worry about the camera? … It seems to me this guy is up to something.”

About 15 minutes after Ebanks left him, Mr. Williams phoned him to say he wasn’t interested in “this status thing” anymore. Ebanks told him it was too late as he had already given Mr. Manderson the money at the Glass House.

Mr. Williams asked when he would get the money back and Ebanks told him he could get it back the following Friday. On Friday, Mr. Williams called him and Ebanks said he was in East End, but he could get the money Saturday. Mr. Williams called him again on Saturday and was told Monday.

On Monday, Ebanks came to Mr. Williams’s workplace and was angry. “He said I disrespected him by taking him under the camera and he would get me off the island,” the witness reported.

When he realized he was not going to get his money back, Mr. Williams went to the police, he said.

During his evidence in chief, Ms. Salako asked him about “numbers.” Mr. Williams said he knew about it, but never took part in buying or selling.

Defense attorney Laurence Aiolfi asked about the receipt for a “bus. transaction” and pointed out that there was no mention of status. He suggested that Mr. Williams had given Ebanks money for “numbers,” an illegal gambling activity, but couldn’t say so to the police.

Mr. Williams disagreed, saying anybody would have trusted Ebanks, who said he had been attending a named church on island for 20 years, and seemed intelligent.
The trial continues.