The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Washington University (Barbados) Inc has been remanded to HMP Dodds for one week on four fraud charges.
Rao Venkata Gopi, of No. 11 Falcon Crest, Tuscany, Oldbury, St Philip, was sent up to the St Philip penal institution until October 15 when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Christopher Birch today where he was not required to plead to the indictable charges.
When Gopi returns before the St Matthias Magistrate’s Court on that date, businesswoman Asha Mrs Ram Mirchandani who owns the property where the medical school is based will also make an appearance.
The chief magistrate made the request for Mrs Ram to attend court following submissions from prosecutor Station Sergeant Peter Barrow and defence attorney Roger Forde, QC, for and against bail for the 42-year-old CEO.
Gopi, who was arrested last Friday at the school, was charged in the District ‘C’ jurisdiction with three counts of evading liability at Casa Grande Incorporated between April 1, 2017, and September 1, 2018, to an amount totalling BDS$210,000.
The allegations are that he dishonestly induced Casa Grande Incorporated, his creditor, to wait for payment of BDS$2, 863, 080 in rent by deception by falsely representing that CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank cheques dated December 20, 2017, for $50,000; January 1, 2018 for $50,000; and August 28 for $110,000 were good and valid for payment.
He was also charged in the District ‘A’ jurisdiction with one count of evading liability at Furniture Limited T/S Builders Value Mart for one dishonoured cheque totaling BDS$30,000.
The charge read that between December 28, 2017 and September 2018 he dishonestly induced the company, his creditor, to wait for BDS$70,919.33 in payment by falsely representing that the cheque from the aforementioned bank dated December 12, 2017, payable to Builders Value Mart for BDS$30,000 was good and valid for payment.
Station Sergeant Barrow objected to bail for the accused on the grounds that he was a non-national, the nature and seriousness of the charges and the aggravating circumstances as “some form of deception was used.”
“The charges span two jurisdictions . . . and at this stage if granted bail he may very well not return to the jurisdiction . . . [as he is] a non-national,” the prosecutor submitted.
However, Forde dismissed all the objections apart from the non-national submission.
He argued that “stringent conditions” could be imposed on his client such as surrendering his passport which was already in police custody and having him report to a police station twice a day.
“In essence what this is, this is using the court process to collect rent . . . . that was a contractual agreement and the distinction between every breach of contract is not a crime . . . so seriousness [of the crime] is not really quantum and a breach of contract is not necessarily a criminal offence. I am very concerned how people use these courts to collect debt,” the Queen’s Counsel submitted.
He also told the chief magistrate that his client had “sufficiency of assets” to secure his bail
“He is not the only person who is non-resident who gets bail, they got assets. He is not going to flee, there is a sufficiency of assets and there can be conditions that would ensure that he would return. What I [also] understand is that his wife is arranging to dispose some of the assets based on the debt,” Forde added, even as Michael Lashley, QC, informed Chief Magistrate Birch that he was holding a “watching brief” of the proceedings for Mrs Ram.