Berbice woman granted $680,000 bail for duping seamen

Charged: Simon Fortune

Magistrate Renita Singh, on Wednesday, granted Simon Fortune $680,000 bail when she appeared before her at the New Amsterdam Magistrate’s Court slapped with 17 fraud charges.

Fortune, of Welfare Street, Canefield, Canje was hauled before the Court after a number of seamen reported that she duped them into paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to partake in a bogus oil and gas certification course.

The charge states that between December 2019 and March 2020, Fortune fraudulently obtained the sum of $1.9 million from 17 persons with a promise to provide training and issuing seafarers certificates.

Charged: Simon Fortune

She pled not guilty to all the charges.

Attorney at law Ryan Crawford who represented Fortune told the Court that his client does not present as a risk and has been in operation for over five years. He added that she also has all the relevant approval from the correct authorities and the charges are without merit.

He submitted that Fortune would have trained over 200 persons though her agency and provided them with the relevant certification and employment.

Addressing the court on the substantial issue of the certificates, issued to the plaintiffs, are false, Crawford said that they were recalled and a new set will be issued to them.

“The only thing that needs to be issued are certificates that are coming from Panama. We will show the Court that Miss Fortune is not guilty of all of these allegations and we are asking that Miss Fortune be placed on reasonable bail so that we can convince the trial,” he said in his bail application.

Some of the affected participants

Attorney Crawford also informed the Court that it is possible that during the trial, the relevant certificates may arrive.

Police Prosecutor Inspector Althea Solomon noted that while the prosecution is not objecting to bail the prosecution is requesting that the accused reports to Central Police Station, New Amsterdam.

Fortune was granted $40,000 bail for each of the 17 charges along with the conditions that she lodges her passport with the Police and report to the New Amsterdam Police Station every Friday.

The matter comes up again on January 26 for case management.