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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Senior BSP manager to stand trial

SENIOR BSP Bank Manager John Maddison has been committed to stand trial in the National Court for misappropriation while senior lawyer for Gadens Lawyers Erick Anderson has been exonerated of all charges by the Waigani Committal Court this week.

Mr Maddison was not present in court because of medical reasons and Committal Court Magistrate Sinclair Gora adjourned to May 17 for the Defendant to be dealt with under section 96 of the District Courts Act and to be committed to the National Court.

Erick Anderson was discharged and his bail monies of K10,000 was ordered to be refunded forthwith.

Both men were arrested and charged by police after a complainant was laid by Madang businessman and former politician Peter Yama. They were charged under separate information with 50 counts each of conspiring to defraud and 45 counts each of misappropriation. John Maddison was further charged with one count of falsifying a document.

Magistrate Sinclair Gora in a 17 page ruling on sufficiency of evidence , discussed in detail the charges, the role of the Committal Court, the issues, facts and evidences including written statements of 14 witnesses and 13 documentary exhibits put forward by the police prosecution.

The witness statements included Peter O'Neil who was once the Chairman of PNGBC Alex Tongayu and Ian Augerea. He also discussed the defence submission in detail.

In his analysis of both the prosecution evidence and the defence submission Magistrate Gora said: "On the charge of conspiring to defraud I find that the prosecution evidence lacks credibility to show existence of conspiracy to defraud between Erick Anderson of Gadens Laywers and John Maddison of the BSP. Their meetings were purely on a solicitor/client basis and in the presence of and witnessed by the other bank officers such as David Bakau, Stubbs Vele and Reo Ainiu as stated in their statements. Therefore the evidence supporting this charge is NOT sufficient to warrant committing the both accused to stand trial in the National Court. Accordingly I order that the both accused be discharged as to the information containing the charges of conspiring to defraud.

"On the charges of misappropriation there appears to be questions as to the legal basis or authority under which bank debited the account of NIESENEL No. 77 Limited to pay legal fees to Gadens Lawyers. This is a legal issue which the bank and John Maddison in particular should answer. Although I note defense counsel had made appropriate submissions on law in this issue relating to the bank's authority under the Fixed and Floating charges or other interlocking securities but this is not the right forum to address issues of law which appear to be contestable. The proper forum would be the trail court. Hence on that basis I find that there is some evidence which is sufficient to support the charge of misappropriation against accused John Maddison and to warrant committing him to stand trial in the National Court.

"But the same cannot be said about accused Erick Anderson. All that he had his lawyers did was to do legal work on instructions from BSP. They then raised invoices. How the invoices were paid was none of Mr Anderson's business. In any case legal fees were paid to the firm and not to Erick Anderson personally and therefore he could not have misappropriated monies to his own use. The evidence is therefore lacking and is not sufficient to warrant committing the accused Erick Anderson to stand trial in the National Court on the charge of misappropriation. Accordingly I order that the accused Erick Anderson be discharged as to the information containing the charges of misappropriation and his bail monies of K10,000 to be refunded forthwith.

"On the charge of falsifying document under Section 414 (B) (ii) and (iii) as in the case of John Maddison I note that the accused has been charged with furnishing a document. This provision does not talk about furnishing a document. It rather talks about making or producing a document. So I agree with the defense submission that this charge is not known in law hence defective."

Outside the court room police investigators stated that they will be studying the whole ruling.

Complainant Peter Yama declined to comment, saying it is a police matter and they are the once who decide on the next course of action.

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