Ten people have appeared in court charged in connection with a flood relief grant scam.
Farrah Haniff, a clerk at the Ministry of the Social Development and Family Services, appeared before Magistrate Marissa Gomez in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court on a series of charges related to seven $20,000 grants that were fraudulently obtained earlier this month.
Haniff was solely charged with five counts of forging and uttering five of the Ministry’s emergency relief and recovery assistance forms which were used to obtain the grants.
She and six other persons, Heather Griffith-Benjamin, Michael Alexis, Carol Christopher-Bennett, Ajay Ramlakhan and Ramlakhan’s common-law wife Mandisa Stewart, were jointly charged with fraudulently obtaining the grants by pretending to be flood victims.
Debbie Critchlow, Adelephia Lallion, Darren Balcon and his common-law wife Rohini Persad were charged separately with fraudulently obtaining two grants that were paid to Balcon and Critchlow. The offences are alleged to have taken place between October 25th and November 13th.
The accused were not called upon to plead as the charges were laid indictably.
The fraud suspects were granted between $30,000 and $40,000 bail by a Justice of the Peace after they were charged by detectives of the Fraud Squad on Sunday night.
Media reports say police are investigating several other persons in connection with the fraudulent grants, including a senior ministry official and three of his close relatives.
The Ministry has reportedly distributed over $80 million in relief grants to over 5,000 families across the country since the flooding began in October.