Well know businessman, Thomas Bayer is free from charges relating to the controversial bribery and conspiracy case, after the Supreme ruled this week that there is no evidence upon which he could be convicted.
Bayer was originally charged with the 16 former Members of Parliament (MP) in 2015 where he was charged with one count of Complicity to Bribery, contrary to section 30 of the Penal Code Act [CAP 135] and section 23 and 30 (1) (a) of the Leadership Code Act [CAP 240].
In count 57, he was charged with Complicity to Corruption and Bribery contrary to section 30 and 73 (2) of the Penal Code Act [CAP 240].
The prosecution’s case alleged that Mr Bayer who is a Director of a company known as Pacific International Trust Company Ltd (PITCO), aided or procured an offence of bribery or corruption of a number of Members of Parliament.
“It is alleged that between the 21st and 30th of October 2014, Mr Bayer procured the transfer of US$ 500,000 through PITCO bank accounts and that sum was then transferred by him into the personal bank account of Mr Moana Carcasses Kalosil, who in turn distributed that money among 14 Members of Parliament for the purpose of influencing their voting on a vote of no confidence against the Government,” Justice Paul Geoghegan stated in his judgment.
“It is alleged by the Public Prosecutor that in order to cloak the alleged illicit payment in commercial credibility, Mr Bayer used the mechanisms of a sale and purchase agreement for shares in a bank known as European Bank Ltd (“European Bank”) and an option agreement between one Marie Louise Milne and PITCO for the securing of an option for the purchase of lease title number 12/1031/017.”
The Supreme Court accepted that it is an agreed fact that part of the Vt35 million paid into Carcasses account was disbursed to the bank accounts of various MPs.
However, the evidence provided by the Prosecution failed to draw connections between Bayer and Carcasses.
“It needs to be said from the outset that there is no evidence of contact of any kind whatsoever between Mr Bayer and Mr Carcasses or between Mr Bayer and any Member of Parliament who was subsequently convicted in respect of the bribery charges,” Justice Geoghegan stated.
“There is accordingly no direct evidence that establishes Mr Bayer’s knowledge of the “essential facts” or of the bribery scheme at all.
“Instead, the Court is being asked to infer Mr Bayer’s knowledge of the position from a series of documents and financial transactions which the State submits establish beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Bayer had knowledge of those essential facts. Accordingly some focus falls on those documents and the particular transactions.
“It is the prosecution’s case that the European Bank agreement was effectively a sham put together as a type of Trojan horse by means of which funds were to be paid to Mr Carcasses for the purposes of a bribe.”
Justice Geoghegan disagreed with the submission of the prosecution that the Reserve Bank’s approval is required before the transmission of the money and therefore supports the assertion that the agreement is a sham.
“The agreement is a conditional sale agreement. No sale, transfer or other disposition of shares occurs until the settlement date and whether the agreement becomes unconditional therefore triggering settlement depends entirely upon Reserve Bank approval,” said the Supreme Court Judge.
Emphasizing that the evidence does not provide any connection between Mr Bayer and Carcases, he stated that while Mr Bayer signed an underlying option agreement on behalf of PITCO, he did so with Mrs Milne.
“That does not amount to an agreement with Mr Carcasses,” the Judge stated. “In addition, the cheque made out to Mr Carcasses was signed by persons other than Mr Bayer.
“There is no evidence from the signatories of the cheque as to how they came to sign the cheque and who, if anyone, instructed them to do so.
“There is no evidence from Mrs Milne as to the reason for the option, the value of the property to her or the reasons why she directed that the proceeds of the agreement be paid to her husband directly.”
He said there is no evidence which links Mr Bayer directly to Mr Carcasses because there is no evidence of any communication between Mr Bayer and Mr Carcasses regarding Mr Carcasses intention to use the funds which he received from his wife for the purposes of bribery.
“There is no evidence of any knowledge on the part of the Mr Bayer of Mr Carcasses intention to bribe other Members of Parliament or of any intent on the part of Mr Bayer to assist such a process.
“In addition, the evidence, such as it is, does not permit me to draw any inference as to Mr Bayer’s knowledge and intention regarding the commission of the offences with which he is charged.
“In the absence of such evidence the prosecution of Mr Bayer is doomed to failure and for these reasons I am satisfied that the evidence presented by the prosecution provides no proper basis upon which a lawful conviction could be entered. “
Pursuant to section 164 (1) Criminal Procedure Code, Bayer who is well known in the business community was pronounced with a not guilty verdict in respect of both counts.