$18 MILLION STOLEN IN VMBS FRAUD

Friday, July 18, 2003

– A 35 year-old employee of the Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) who has been charged with stealing $18 million dollars from the society’s Ocho Rios branch, was yesterday remanded in custody when he appeared in the St Ann’s Bay Resident Magistrate’s Court.

Roxroy Mendez of a Mansfield Heights address in Ocho Rios, St Ann is scheduled to return to court on July 22. Mendez, who has been employed to VMBS for 17 years, was on Tuesday slapped with four counts of larceny as a servant, following intense investigations by the police.

In a release issued by VMBS Wednesday afternoon, the bank said customer accounts were not affected by the suspected fraudulent activities.

“VMBS confirms that a supervisor at the Ocho Rios branch of the Society has been detained in connection with suspected fraudulent activities at that location. There is no evidence that the account of any customer has been affected,” said the release over the signature of Frank Harrison, senior vice president for operations at VMBS.

In court yesterday, the prosecution alleged that between 1999 and 2003, Mendez — who held the position of accounts supervisor with responsibility for foreign exchange — devalued the society’s stipulated exchange rates on a daily basis, without the knowledge of his employers. He reportedly later transferred the inflated amount to his personal accounts, held jointly with relatives, after which the correct amount was later transferred to VMBS’ account.

Detective Fitz Bailey from the fraud squad told the court that the amount involved was £141,970 and US$166,000, which amounted to approximately J$18 million. He said during their investigations, the accused was questioned and when his access number was identified, he was charged.

Bailey said a joint account at the Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) in the name of Mendez and a relative, in which $6 million was being kept, was emptied on Wednesday, a day after Mendez was charged. Bailey successfully used this information as leverage to object to bail being granted to the accused.

“My concern is that he was arrested Tuesday and by Wednesday $6 million was taken out of the account,” RM Yvonne Brown told Mendez’ lawyer, H Charles Johnson, in denying bail. RM Brown added that based on the strength of the allegations and the fear that the accused may interfere with the case, she was not prepared to grant him bail.

Johnson had requested bail on the premise that Mendez was bothered by hypertension and his client’s family members had given him instructions to “proceed in a certain manner”.

The lawyer also told the court that the removal of the $6 million was not an attempt to interfere with justice but “to assist the course of justice”.

“Six million dollars disappeared from the account and this is going to assist in the course of justice?” the RM asked.

“The council has information where the $6 million went, your honour,” Johnson told the judge.

“But the money doesn’t belong to your client,” RM Brown replied.

“The $6 million dollars is gone nowhere; it was taken out for the defence to take a certain course; all funds it is alleged my client has at VMBS are still there,” the lawyer argued.

But Detective Bailey refuted this claim and told the court that only £40,010 and US$41,491 remained in the accounts at Victoria Mutual.

Johnson pleaded to the judge to grant his client bail “under whatever condition” she saw fit, offering to surrender his travel documents. The RM however refused.

“I take your health into consideration but also the fact that you have been there for 17 years and you used your position to defraud VMBS; that’s a very serious matter; it’s a breach of trust. But I’m particularly concerned about that $6 million. That $6 million should never have been removed,” RM Brown said in remanding the accused in custody.

– Carl Gilchrist

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About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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