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UPDATE: Crown goes back to drawing board in alleged social security fraud

Brian Penn (left) and Harinder Steven-Penn at the Magistrate's Court on January 7, 2014. Photo: VINO
Directors of Vanguard Security Services, Brian Penn (right) and Harinder Steven-Penn, are expected to appear before the Magistrate’s Court today, January 7, 2014 to answer over 200 fraud related charges. Photo: VINO/File
Directors of Vanguard Security Services, Brian Penn (right) and Harinder Steven-Penn, are expected to appear before the Magistrate’s Court today, January 7, 2014 to answer over 200 fraud related charges. Photo: VINO/File
Most of the 237 charges are fraud related and dealt with the duo's alleged failure to make Social Security payments on behalf of staff members of the company. Photo: VINO/File
Most of the 237 charges are fraud related and dealt with the duo's alleged failure to make Social Security payments on behalf of staff members of the company. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Attorney Patrick Thompson argued today, January 7, 2014 that many of charges against his clients, Brian and Harinder Stephen-Penn, did not merit a hearing before the Magistrate’s Court, thus forcing the Crown back to the drawing board.

The Crown had initially intended to proceed with several of the offences summarily.

The duo faces allegations of obtaining property by deception, failure to keep proper records, evasion of liability by deception, destroying or concealing documents, failing to issue certificates to employees on termination, failing to record contributions, and failure to make payments to the Social Security Board [SSB] among others.

According to Thompson, at least three of the charges against his clients were indictable and the Magistrate’s court had no jurisdiction in hearing these. These included obtaining property by deception; false accounting; and evasion of liability.

He told the court that the charge of obtaining property by deception can be treated as an indictable offence under Section 217 of the Social Security Board Act but can only be treated summarily in instances where the defendant pleads guilty.

The attorney told the court that he gave no indication that his clients intended to plead guilty.

The bulk of the other offences allegedly committed by the Penns are against the regulations of the Social Security Board Act.

Thompson argued that regulations under Section 35 of the act must create a criminal offence before they can be heard by the Magistrate’s Court. Section 35, he told the court, outlines the criminal offences which a breach of the regulations would capture.

According to the defence lawyer, under the substantive Act, regulations can be made for any breach of the Social Security Ordinance, however, in this instance there were no offences to be heard since the ones against his client were not covered or stated in any way under the Act. The defendants therefore, had no charges to answer. For instance, he said, there is no such offence as failing to keep records under the Act.

The attorney further told the court that the Crown needs to make a determination on how they would proceed; whether summarily or indictably against the defendants, so that they can proceed for trial before the High Court in time for the February assizes in the case of the indictable charges, or before the Magistrate’s court in the case of the summary charges, ‘post haste’.

Thompson requested that the matter be dealt with in this manner since his clients are both government workers and Mr [Brian] Penn, has been indicted from the Police Force and has suffered from some amount of stigma as a result of the charges against him.

Crown Counsel Leslie Ann Faulkner said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will now be consulted on the way forward.

The matter will come up for hearing again on January 14, 2014 when Magistrate Dr Velon John is expected to make a ruling on the submissions.

See previous story posted January 7, 2014:

Vanguard Security owners to face over 200 fraud charges today

ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Directors of a security firm, Brian Penn and Harinder Steven-Penn, are expected to appear before the Magistrate’s Court today, January 7, 2014 to answer over 200 fraud related charges.

Brian Penn, a member of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, was listed as a Director of Vanguard Security Services & Supplies Ltd along with his wife, Harinder Steven-Penn. 

They were accused of allegedly committing the acts between 2008 and 2013. Most of the 237 charges were fraud related and dealt with the duo's alleged failure to make Social Security payments on behalf of staff members of the company. 

The duo was initially charged in September 2013 with the alleged offences but they have so far not been read the full charges due to a number of delays in the hearing of the matter. 

Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards explained at the time, that most of the offences were related to the Social Security legislation and included allegations of obtaining property by deception, failure to keep proper records, evasion of liability by deception, destroying or concealing documents, failing to issue certificates to employees on termination, failing to record contributions, and failure to make payments to the Social Security Board [SSB] among others. 

They are being represented by attorney at law Patrick Thompson. 

Several documents were noted as still outstanding when they last appeared before the court on December 13, 2013 but the prosecution had resolved to have these delivered by the following week.  

The matter is expected to be heard by Magistrate Dr. Velon John.

21 Responses to “UPDATE: Crown goes back to drawing board in alleged social security fraud ”

  • pat (07/01/2014, 08:30) Like (6) Dislike (13) Reply
    This case is so unfair when the real big fishes go Scott free
  • under the bus (07/01/2014, 10:36) Like (3) Dislike (16) Reply
    We just love to kill our own
  • y (07/01/2014, 11:24) Like (18) Dislike (0) Reply
    Wrong is wrong
  • w d (07/01/2014, 12:08) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Dem want live a life
  • i kw (07/01/2014, 12:20) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    thats y i ah u own get this place so
  • apple pie (07/01/2014, 12:40) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
    The tip of the iceberg in harassing local they do not like
  • check the law (07/01/2014, 15:02) Like (0) Dislike (11) Reply
    where is it written in the social security laws that failure to do this and do that is an offence? Mr & mrs Penn,just hold on,you have committed no offence!
    • Susie (08/01/2014, 18:40) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      @ check the law, If you take social security money out of their pay and don't give it to social security, excuse me if I'm wrong, but isn't that stealing and isn't stealing against the law? If they are innocent, they should be able to produce the payment receipts and problem solved.
  • gggg (07/01/2014, 15:09) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Sad all around
  • Shut Eye Dan (07/01/2014, 16:09) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply

    Old people say TIME LONGER THAN TWINE God don't like ugly.

  • YY (07/01/2014, 16:20) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Ag chamberd weak
  • scato (07/01/2014, 16:21) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply

    what i don't understand is the same one who bring these charges to these people are the ones at the head who have businesses and children that they are not paying their dues. Kettle calling kettle black.

  • juice (07/01/2014, 16:56) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    At least they have a good lawyer
  • Wifee (07/01/2014, 17:19) Like (0) Dislike (4) Reply
    i just feel sorry for his poor wife
  • nan (07/01/2014, 20:21) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    @ check the law...WRONG WRONG and WRONG.
  • check your self (07/01/2014, 23:08) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    HA HA HA! Guess who has the last laugh, and it aint the SSB tis the lawyers
  • Civil case (08/01/2014, 08:19) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    For those of us who law,will know that this case like all other social security cases,is infact a civil case and not criminal. the big fishes are called upon to ???? but little penn's are prosecuted....dont use the penn's to send a message... be fair ssb


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