Fmr Deeds Registrar to repay State $4.5M after fraud conviction

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Magistrate Leron Daly on Wednesday morning found Former Deeds Registrar Azeena Baksh guilty of fraudulently procuring over $4.5 million while being employed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) between 2014 and 2017.

Baksh was on trial at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts for the past three years after being slapped with a fraud charge in 2017.

The charge stated that while being employed by the JSC between May 1, 2014, and January 31, 2017, in Georgetown, caused or procured valuable securities in the sum of $4,534,486 million to be delivered to her Bank of Nova Scotia account for her own use pretending she was a contracted employee at the Deeds Registry.

After ruling that sufficient evidence was found to convict Baksh, Magistrate Daly ordered that the defendant repay the State in full the sum of money falsely procured, instead of serving jail time. The Magistrate in her ruling said that Baksh is not a threat to society and as such did not impose jail time.

Baksh was further ordered to lodge $1 million on Wednesday before leaving the court and has three months to pay the remaining balance.

In April of 2017, the Legal Affairs Ministry had disclosed that the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority had requested an investigation to be launched into financial irregularities into Baksh’s payroll documentation.

Upon her appointment as the Deeds Registrar in 2012, Baksh received $326,171 monthly, as well as duty, entertainment and house allowances among many other benefits. This was approved by the JSC.

The Legal Affairs Ministry asserted, however, that Baksh increased her payment to $400,000 in 2014 when the Deeds Registry was merged with the Commercial Registry, without the approval of the JSC.

It was further reported that Baksh – being the sole person with authority to sign off on such documents— approved gratuity to herself and several staff members from the period May 2014 to November 2016.

Baksh was represented by Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes.