Bermudan claims he saved the US$1.7 million
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January 20, 2012
Bermudan claims he saved the US$1.7 million

Bermudan national, Winston Robinson said the US$1.7 million seized aboard the yacht Jotobin in 2008 belongs to him.{{more}}

Taking the witness stand earlier this week at the Serious Offences Court, the 69-year-old told the court that he accumulated the money while working in the hotel and fishing industry.

Robinson said back in 2008, he stashed his money in plastic bags, then placed it in a metallic tank on the boat and sealed it with Styrofoam.

“I did it that way because we were going sailing and people may try to hijack your boat…,” he explained.

Robinson and Trinidadian Kent Andrews are charged with concealing US$1,733,463 (EC$4,628,346) on the yacht Jotobin on April 5, 2008, at Calliaqua, knowing or suspecting or having reasonable grounds to suspect, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, that the money represented another person’s proceeds of criminal conduct.

They are also charged with bringing the money into St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Also involved in the matter is Vincentian, Antiono ‘Que Pasa’ Gellizeau. He faces similar charges.

Under cross-examination from prosecutor, Gilbert Peterson, Robinson said it was US$1.9 million he had stored on board the yacht.

“How did you accumulate that money?” Peterson asked.

“I worked for it in my country,” Robinson replied.

He further told the court that he had hidden his money in a hole and was saving it since the 1980’s.

“Where was it hidden?” Peterson asked.

“I can’t tell you that,” Robinson answered.

He told the court that in 2008, he flew to St. Lucia via the UK to collect the Jotobin and deliver it to Swansea, England for his long time friend Nicholas Stewart.

Robinson told he court before he set out from St. Lucia, he picked up Andrews and offered to pay him US$500 per week while on board. He said both of them sailed back to Bermuda, then travelled to Bequia.

It was in the waters off Bequia that police and coastguard officials raided the yacht.

“It was a long way to England and the trip may have taken six to eight weeks. So since it is a long trip, I said to Andrews we could pick up Nolly Jack in St Vincent…,” Robinson said.

He said Jack was supposed to be another crew member.

Robinson said he anchored in Bequia at about 8:00 p.m. and decided that he would stay on board and clear Customs and Immigration first thing the following day.

Last August, when giving testimony for the prosecution, Corporal 93 Duane Bailey said about 1:05 a.m. on April 5, he was among a party of Rapid Response Unit (RRU), Narcotics, Financial Intelligence Unit and Coastguard personnel, when instructions were given to board the Jotobin.

He said the occupants, Robinson and Andrews, were met asleep and were awakened by the lawmen.

Bailey testified that later that morning, at about 6:00 a.m., the men were escorted on their vessel back to the Coastguard base at Calliaqua.

Gellizeau, who was also anchored in Bequia on his boat “Orion”, was also searched by police officers. He, too, was escorted on his boat back to the Coastguard base at Calliaqua.

In his testimony, Corporal 168 Fitzburne Chambers told the court he was a part of the party that went to Bequia. He said after both vessels arrived at Calliaqua, another search was conducted, but nothing was found on board Orion and Gellizeau was released.

However, while searching Jotobin, Chambers said in the left cabin, just below the bow of the boat, he found 44 packages containing US currency in the right cabinet and another 44 from the cabinet on the left side of the bow.

In his testimony this week, Robinson said when officers found the money, they did not ask him where he got the money from.

Robinson said he was going to live in England for a while and then onto Australia because that is where all his family is.

Continuing his testimony, Robinson said he has been around yachts for all his life, but this was the only occasion he had captained the Jotobin.

According to Robinson, while on yachts, he never really earned a salary and did it for pleasure.

He said he earned money on fishing boats.

“I can’t remember how much I made. It’s too long to remember…,” he testified.

When Peterson asked if he owned real estate, Robinson said no. When asked if he invested in stock and other business ventures, he also said no.

Robinson told the court it was Stewart who hired him to captain the Jotobin. He added that he knew Stewart from their time in the British armed Forces back in the 1960s.

“Let me put it to you that you are making up your evidence. You are not speaking the truth,” Peterson put to Robinson.

Robinson replied, “That is your problem.”

When asked how much he was paid to sail the yacht to England, Robinson told the court he hasn’t been paid yet. However, when asked what was the agreement between both of them, Robinson said there was none.

“We were friends and I wanted to go to England.”

Reading from a police statement given by Robinson, Peterson pointed out parts of the statement where Robinson said the money found did not belong to him.

“I don’t know who put the money there,” Peterson read from the statement.

“At the time, I was saying that because I want to… I can’t remember that. I was probably lying then. I am speaking the truth now,” Robinson replied.

Robinson further told the court he did not remember the statement, but admitted that it was his signature on the document.

The statement also revealed that Robinson said JT Yachting owned the boat. No mention was made of Stewart.

Quizzed about when he first met Gellizeau, Robinson said he met him in St Lucia through Kent Andrews. He disclosed that he only met Gellizeau when the Jotobin was being repaired in St Lucia back in 2008.

However, Peterson read from local Customs records that showed Robinson, Andrews, a man named Walter Sergeant and Gellizeau were on board a yacht called Orion, back in 2006.

“2006 was a long time. I don’t know Gellizeau very well,” Robinson declared.

When asked how much money he had on his person while on the boat, Robinson said it was not much.

A police officer seated in the court, when asked by Peterson said that Robinson had about $200 on him.

“How were you going to stock up for a 6-8 week trip?”

Robinson said he would have had to cut the sealed compartment where his money was hidden.

Neither of the other two men in the matter took the stand.

Alberton Richelieu, Theodore Guerra S.C. and Stephen Williams are the defence counsel in the case.

Chief Magistrate Sonya Young will deliver her decision in the matter on March 9.

LaTeisha Sandy and Sejilla McDowall also appeared on behalf of the crown. (KW)