The State’s case against former minister of public administration, Marlene McDonald, her companion Michael Carew and long-time friend Victor McEachrane and two others is based on the disbursement of millions of dollars from the Ministry of Community Development to two entities.
In 2007, McDonald was appointed Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs. She also served as Minister of Public Utilities and Minister of Housing between 2015 and 2019.
The Fraud Squad investigation centres around applications for funding made by three entities to the McDonald’s ministry.
Those three entities were linked to Michael Carew, Wayne Anthony and Victor McEachrane. The four men and McDonald all share a close personal relationship.
These bodies—Calabar Foundation, the Waterwheel Foundation and the Provident Foundation—made applications to the Ministry, the ministry approved the application and disbursed the funds to the non-governmental organisations.
Records from the Companies Registry show Carew, McEachrane were registered as directors of Calabar. The five accused, Edgar Zephyrine, was then a director of Waterwheel Foundation.
According to the charges, the money was deposited at three financial institutions and at various times funds were withdrawn by the individuals linked to the NGOs.
This is the challenge the State will have to face is in proving its case.
The crux of the case follows a similar pattern to the alleged scheme involving kickbacks from legal fees corruption charges against former UNC senator Gerald Ramdeen and former attorney general Anand Ramlogan.
Ramlogan and Ramdeen were charged with conspiring to engage in money laundering, corruption and misbehaviour in public office.
Similar charges were laid against the state’s cooperating witness British Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson. Nelson has signed a plea agreement and is expected to testify against Ramlogan and Ramdeen.