Property con man charged in complex case

| 06/06/2011

(CNS): A 65-year-old man from Louisiana, USA, has been remanded in custody after his first court appearance following charges brought by the RCIPS Financial Crimes Unit (FCU). At present Delbert Allem Hyland is charged with only one count of fraud – uttering a false document — which relates to his attempts to sell a condo on Seven Mile Beach that did not belong to him. The crown prosecutor told the court that money laundering charges may follow as he laid out the complex financial crime Hyland is accused of being involved in when he tried to sell the apartment at Poinsettia on the West Bay Road. The case is linked to a suicide in Colorado, a Thai based company owned by Nigerians and a charitable trust registered in Liechtenstein.

Hyland was arrested by officers from the FCU last week after an operation in which local officers had been anticipating his arrival. Police were first alerted to the crime when a local real estate agent called them to report her suspicions about Hyland’s attempts to act for Donald Cosby, who was the owner of the property.

The property had originally been placed for sale by Cosby via a recommendation from another real estate broker from the same firm in Florida at the end of last year. Theasking price had been US$425,000 but Hyland, who had been posing as Cosby’s administrative assistant, telephoned in March and asked for it to be reduced to $275,000, raising suspicions. He had also indicated that the proceeds fromthe sale should go to accounts held by his girlfriend and a company in Thailand whose directors were Nigerians.

However, it appears that the original request by Cosby before his death had been for the money from the sale to be sent to a charitable trust in Liechtenstein.

When Hyland sent the realtor what turned out to be a forged power of attorney document in order to hurry along the sale, as he said his boss wanted to buy another property, it was apparent to the FCU that a serious crime was in the making, not least because Cosby had died in an apparent suicide in Colorado a month before the document was supposedly signed. The police mounted an operation in which Hyland was lured to the Cayman Islands with the possibility of a sale, where he was then arrested by local police.

Crown prosecutor John Masters said there was a complex web of intrigue which smacked of money laundering and enquiries into the case by the FCU were continuing. He also noted that while the sheriff’s department in Colorado had ruled Cosby’s death a suicide, it was suspicious that after his death Hyland appeared to have Cosby’s passport.

Masters asked that the accused man be remanded given the circumstances and called for a second hearing in two weeks time in order for defence counsel to review the case.

Hyland made no comment and was represented by Prathna Bodden of Samson McGrath, who said that her client was willing to surrender his passport and had funds that would enable him to stay on island on bail so that he would be able to make the necessary calls and gather information to quickly resolve the issue.

However, pointing out that over the years a considerable number of passports had been collected in the courts' vault along with a number of now unanswered warrants, Magistrate  Nova Hall said that seizing passport was no guarantee that a defendant would not attempt to leave. As a result of what she said was a considerable flight risk, the magistrate remanded the defendant to Northward prison until 21 June.

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