Legal arguments continued on Monday when the extradition case against former insurance executive Alex Tasker resumed before the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court.
The former senior manager at the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Ltd. (ICBL) is before Chief Magistrate Ian Weekes following a request for his extradition to the United States to stand trial on money laundering charges.
Prosecutors allege that between August 2015 and April 2016 he conspired with others to launder money in the US from outside the country in violation of US law.
Today, Tasker’s defence attorneys Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim and attorney Neville Reid made a submission on whether another judicial officer should preside over the committal of extradition hearing as the Chief Magistrate had been the one who signed the warrant which led to Tasker being hauled before the court.
Pilgrim asked Chief Magistrate Weekes to decide whether he should perform the two functions and whether it was not a case of “prejudging” as he was privy to the contents of the warrant of arrest which is the same “identical” material contained in the committal hearing.
The defense attorney asked: “What is the standard that the person issuing the warrant is held? The [magistrate] is being asked to do two different judicial processes in the same matter.”
Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Alliston Seale and Senior Crown Counsel Oliver Thomas agreed that there were two functions being performed, that of issuing of the provisional warrant and the hearing of the committal for extradition.
However, Seale submitted that he saw “nothing wrong” with the two functions being performed by the same magistrate as it was something that happened all the time. He described a magistrate as “unique creature” who had to hear and determine certain facts that should be considered and disregard what should not. Seale further pointed out that magistrates signed warrants and hear bail applications for the same accused and their trials which sometimes led to the accused being released by the said magistrate based on the evidence produced in court.
Seale said he was “satisfied” that the magistrate could perform the two functions as “it was a unique procedure”.
“This exposes a procedural regularity, not an irregularity,” the Deputy DPP added, stating that that matter was at a stage that the defence had requested several documents.
After hearing the submissions Chief Magistrate Weekes ruled against Pilgrim’s submissions on the grounds that the threshold, of the two functions, was different.
Following that ruling Pilgrim told the Weekes that there were several other submissions that his side would like the court to consider when the matter resumes on June 29 at 2:30 p.m. The business executive remains on $200,000 bail.
Among the submissions the defence wants heard relates to the conspiracy charge against Tasker as described in the first count.
“It is not one of the magistrates’ scheduled offences and therefore he cannot, in our submission, be extradited on that. The other two offences are offences named in your [Magistrates’] Act specifically and therefore are extraditable by you. We would want the court to hear fuller arguments on the point that the first count of conspiracy . . . is not an extraditable offence under this Act . . .”