Tobago pensioners go after ex-THA assemblyman for $.4m
ATTORNEYS for an elderly Tobago couple are going after former assemblyman Handel Beckles of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) for close to $.4 million he owes them for breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation.
Beckles, his aunt Merle Beckles-Benjamin and their church Impact Ministries were ordered in 2019 ordered to repay pensioners Fitzroy and Cordella Pantin a total of $399,594.12. The Pantins had gone to court to recover the money.
On Thursday, the couple’s attorneys wrote to Chief Secretary of the THA Ancil Dennis to say Beckles was a registered judgment debtor and since the former assemblyman has failed to pay, steps were being taken to enforce the full judgment sum.
Beckles is allegedly employed at the Division of Works and Transportation of the THA and the letter to Dennis said as a former assemblyman, he was entitled to gratuity and other payments from the THA.
The Pantins’ attorneys, Martin George and Ashelle Edwards, said garnishee orders have been applied for in the High Court for any payments or money due to Beckles from the THA.
Edwards, in the letter, called on Dennis to disclose all the details of the salary and emoluments payable to Beckles, as well as details of any lump sum or gratuity payments due to him in any capacity.
She asked for the information to be confidentially disclosed in seven days, as well as Beckles’s bank account details, so that her clients can take enforcement proceedings at the court.
The attorney’s letter was also copied to political leader of the PNM, Tracy Davidson-Celestine, since, the letter said, she had initially shortlisted Beckles on her slate for an election campaign and he was still a member of the party.
The Pantins, of Bethel, had argued that Beckles and others fraudulently induced them to spend more than $500,000 in cash, materials and other donations and purchases for improving a church known as Impact Ministries. at Mt Pleasant, Tobago, with promises of repayment.
However, Beckles, in his submission to the court, said the Pantins’ money was treated as contributions, gifts and tithes given freely and voluntarily to the church, and therefore they were entitled to nothing.
The Pantins then filed for breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation against Beckles and the court ordered him to repay them.
Edwards said the Pantins were elderly pensioners who put their faith, trust and life savings in Beckles’s hands for his church.
BY: JADA LOUTOO