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Khan testifies in Coolman fraud case
It was an unfamiliar position yesterday for Senior Counsel Israel Khan, when he was summoned to testify in the case of a woman charged with defrauding the husband of murdered businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman. In a testimony, lasting about 15 minutes, before Magistrate Melville Daniel in the Port-of-Spain First Court, Khan gave oral evidence as accused Alisha Chunu watched from the prisoners’ bench. His attorney Daniel Khan, who is also his son, was present to watch over his interest as he was questioned by special prosecutor Evans Welch.
Khan was named on the charge laid against Chunu, a former murder accused charged with perpetrating the fraud. Chunu, 35, of Richplain Road, Diego Martin, is alleged to have defrauded Rennie Coolman, husband of Naipaul-Coolman, of $165,000, and also is charged with soliciting a total of $175,000 for the forbearance of charges against Coolman for his wife’s kidnapping and murder. The charges allege that Chunu pretended to be a state attorney and solicited and received money from Coolman in forbearance of criminal charges in his wife’s disappearance. She is charged with nine fraud offences, originating from the kidnapping of Naipaul-Coolman on December 19, 2006. Naipaul-Coolman, CEO of Xtra Foods Ltd, was kidnapped outside her home in Lange Park, Chaguanas, and has been missing since. She has since been declared dead by Homicide detectives. Sunday would mark four years since she disappeared.
Khan was summoned to testify in the matter after his name was mentioned in one of the charges. It states: “On April 4 at Grand Bazaar, with intent to defraud (Alisha Chunu) did fraudulently obtain $25,000 from Rennie Coolman by falsely pretending she was an attorney employed at the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and that she had been assigned by the DPP a file in relation to the police investigation of the said Rennie Coolman’s involvement in the alleged kidnapping and murder of Vindra Naipaul-Coolman, and that that file had been sent to Israel Khan, SC, to advise the DPP as to whether there was evidence to charge the said Coolman for the alleged murder of the said Naipaul-Coolman and that the said $25,000 was to pay Khan, SC, as an inducement to him to advise the DPP there was no evidence to charge the said Coolman.”
The DPP during the time the charges were laid was Geoffrey Henderson. He is now a High Court judge and is also set to testify in the inquiry. Khan, an attorney for 31 years, had represented Chunu in 2004 in the preliminary inquiry into the murder of Ministry of Administration employee Menon Hingoo. Fraud Squad Detective Insp Martin Phagoo, who charged the accused with the offences, also testified yesterday. The hearing was adjourned to December 22.
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