AN accountant of the East Port of Spain Development Corporation (EPoS) and two of his companies have been ordered to repay the state-owned entity close to $16 million.
In a ruling yesterday, Justice Frank Seepersad granted EPoS judgement in default after accountant Solomon Lamb; Kirk Services Ltd, a trading company of which Lamb is a director; and his company Solomon Lamb & Associates Internal Audit & Management Consultant, failed to file a defence to the 2017 claim.
Seepersad also granted a freezing order until the money is repaid, since attorneys for EPoS argued there was a risk Lamb and his companies’ assets will be dissipated before the judgement sum was recovered.
The EPoS accountant and his two companies were named as defendants in a civil lawsuit after a forensic audit uncovered unauthorised cheque payments close to $16 million made to Kirk Services Ltd, over a four-year period.
Seepersad ruled on an application by Lamb and his companies to lift an injunction that was granted and for disclosure of certain reports and documents by EPoS. He dismissed the application and ordered Lamb and his company to pay EPoS’ costs as well as the cost of the default judgement application.
Lamb and his companies were also ordered to hand over financial accounts and assets to EPoS attorneys. They had previously disclosed them to the court but they were sealed until the judge gave his ruling on lifting of the injunction application. They were being kept by the Registrar of the High Court.
The corporation, in its High Court action, claimed there were instances of forgery of authorised signatures, fraudulent accounts for these payments and apparent manipulation or concealment of relevant records by Lamb.
In a statement in December, then Housing and Urban Development Minister Randall Mitchell (the EPoS line minister) said a report was made to the Fraud Squad, but EPoS would also pursue civil action to recover the misappropriated money.
Mitchell said a forensic probe initiated in November was prompted by financial discrepancies discovered in October. Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes and Michael Bullock represented EPoS. Senior Counsel Pamela Elder and Alvin Pariagsingh represented Lamb and his companies.