On Tuesday, Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer heard a submission of no case to answer from the attorney for Rohn Knowles and Kelvin Leach, the Bahamian executives of Titan International Securities, accused of failing to declare separate sums of U.S. currency in their possession totaling $12,300 on attempting to leave Belize in September of 2014, around the time that their firm and others were targeted as part of a U.S. federal indictment alleging billion-dollar securities fraud.
In December when the case was heard before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer, a police officer who picked up both men from the Philip Goldson International Airport testified that the envelope he confiscated from Leach contained US$6,300 and 11 Belize dollars and was so labelled. A check of the envelope, however, failed to turn up the Belizean currency and Senior Magistrate Frazer declined to accept the envelope as evidence, because its integrity was compromised in her view.
The detective later testified that the envelopes were mislabeled – the one he testified to actually contained the US$6,000 to have been declared by Mr Knowles, and not the US$6,300 and BZ$11 to have been declared by Mr Leach.
That is only one of the charges laid by Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith, who told reporters that a greater breach concerned the moment at which the crime was alleged to have been committed, and what role that plays in the bringing of charges. He told us more.
“Basically, the law says that if you are leaving Belize without making a declaration of funds to the FIU, you have committed an offence.
Our basic argument was that the police intercepted, grabbed them, ambushed them in our view, as at the point where they had just checked in to the airport on a chartered flight. They had not progressed beyond that point to cross any booth, immigration point, anything like that, at which point we would say they would have had an opportunity to make a declaration.
It was as chartered flight. They could have checked in and gone back down to the FIU and made a declaration.
So, in short we were saying that the FIU acted prematurely, ambushed the defendants, and by doing that they made a fatal error in establishing their case. That is our argument in the no case submission.”
A decision will be given by Senior Magistrate on February 25.
A ruling in favour of Rohn Knowles and Kelvin Leach ends the case, while if it goes against them they will be invited to make their defense.