Lawyer: Bouchard willing to hand over assets

A closed-doors conference was set for Tuesday to work out details of how much money would be confiscated from convicted thief Michelle Bouchard in restitution for the family of her elderly victim, attorneys said Monday during a Cayman Islands Court of Appeal hearing.

The Tuesday meeting was not held in open court, so no details were forthcoming at press time.

Bouchard’s senior attorney, Peter Carter, QC, told the court Monday that approximately $1.4 million in cash assets and a condominium she owned valued at $250,000 in Cayman were being offered up by the defendant to make good on the estimated $1.9 million she took from elderly Australian businessman James B. Handford, with whom she had a relationship during 2010-2012.

It was alleged during Bouchard’s trial earlier this year that the Canadian national transferred about CAD$1.4 million out of Cayman in September 2012 after she became aware of Mr. Handford’s daughter becoming suspicious of her activities.

The appeals court heard Monday that the money was transferred to a bank in Montreal during 2012 and, in 2014, was transferred to another Canadian bank in the name of Bouchard’s father who, by that time, had been dead for several years.

“The reality is that it was those money laundering offenses … meant [Bouchard] was hiding away the proceeds of her criminality,” the Crown’s senior prosecutor Simon Russell-Flint said Monday.

“The reality is that it was those money laundering offenses … meant [Bouchard] was hiding away the proceeds of her criminality.”

Court of Appeal Justice Sir Bernard Rix questioned attorneys on both sides during Monday’s hearing as to whether the Canadian money transferred out of the Cayman Islands jurisdiction was “lost” – meaning that it was unrecoverable from Canada, which has no formal legal assistance treaty with Cayman.

Mr. Russell-Flint indicated that funds held by Bouchard that were frozen in Cayman included $600,000, a separate sum of US$550,000 and a third smaller sum of Canadian dollars and indicated the Crown believed these sums were recoverable, but that nothing had been agreed yet as to confiscation. He said these cash assets, along with the condo held in Bouchard’s name, had been “frozen” by prosecutors.

Mr. Russell-Flint said Handford’s family was trying to locate the Canadian bank cash via other means. Mr. Handford, who is now in his late 80s, is in an elderly care facility in Australia and is suffering from dementia.

Mr. Carter told the court that it was not as simple as the court accessing “frozen” cash assets and that his client was awaiting certain communications from the Crown. However, he said Bouchard had proposed to turn over some $1.6 million in assets which would “go a long way” to settling confiscation claims made by Handford’s family.

“Ms. Bouchard has said she will make those sums available,” he said.

Separate from the asset forfeiture proceedings, Mr. Handford’s daughter, Susan van Dijk, applied to the Cayman Islands Grand Court in March to request that any of her father’s remaining properties in Cayman be placed in receivership under the court’s direction.

The application, filed March 17 under the local Mental Health Law, seeks for the court to appoint Susan van Dijk, or other person “as the court may see fit,” as receiver.

According to the court application, the receiver’s job would be to report to the court regarding Mr. Handford’s local properties, and the receiver would be allowed to obtain legal and financial advice, to be paid for on an indemnity basis from Mr. Handford’s properties.

It was stated in court that Mr. Handford bought a condo on Seven Mile Beach in 2007 after selling a property in Australia for $23 million to $24 million. The specific assets owned by Mr. Handford in Cayman were not set out in court records.

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