Deborah Bastian, who is accused of acting as the bag woman for former Cabinet Minister Shane Gibson, refused to present her identification in order to collect a cashier’s check for $20,000 that debited from businessman Jonathan Ash’s account, a Supreme Court jury heard yesterday.
Gibson, 58, is accused of receiving $280,000 in bribes from Ash beginning mid-January 2017 to the end of March 2017, in order to speed up his payments for work done as part of the cleanup following Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Prosecutors allege that Ash initially paid the bribes to Bastian on Gibson’s behalf before he started paying Gibson directly.
Senior Assistant Operations Manager at Commonwealth Bank Denisia Aranha testified that following a telephone conversation with Ash on February 1, 2017, she debited his account and prepared a $20,000 cashier’s check payable to Bastian.
However, Aranha testified that she instructed the teller to cancel the transaction after Bastian refused to present an ID and sign for the check.
In his testimony, Ash said he required Bastian to sign for the money because he wanted a paper trail.
In cross examination, Damian Gomez, QC, asked Aranha if Ash had introduced Bastian as his aunt. Aranha said that he had, contradicting Ash’s response to the same question when he was on the stand.
Senior Branch Manager Branson Gibson testified that Ash introduced him to Bastian in January 2017 and said that she would deposit a check on his behalf.
After referring to a January 24 entry on Ash’s bank statement, Gibson said Bastian deposited $195,095.26, which brought the account balance to $2,288,863.75.
Branson Gibson also testified about a check for $226,800 that was deposited to Ash’s account in February 2017.
According to banking records, Bastian collected $20,000 that was withdrawn from Ash’s account, Gibson said.
Also testifying was police investigator ASP Debra Thompson, who said that Bastian was initially interviewed as a suspect in the bribery investigation on July 1, 2017.
Thompson said Bastian gave a statement under caution on July 4, which was later converted to a witness statement.
Using information taken from subsequent statements by an Inspector McCartney, Thompson said that the statement was consolidated into one document on July 25.
The prosecution does not intend to call Bastian as a witness.
Thompson said she later met with Ash and Bastian at the Central Detective Unit on September 25, 2017.
Lead Prosecutor James Guthrie, QC, asked, “Did you see them separately or together?”
Thompson replied, “I saw them together.”
Guthrie asked, “What was the point of seeing them together?”
Thompson replied, “To clear up ambiguities.”
Thompson said she became involved in the investigation on June 25, 2017, when Commissioner Anthony Ferguson assigned her to a team to investigate allegations of bribery.
At the time, Thompson said, she did not know who the allegations had been made by or who they concerned.
Two days later, she said, she met with Ash and his attorney Alecia Bowe.
Thompson said that during this meeting, Ash gave a brief overview of the allegations.
She said she took comprehensive notes during a meeting on June 28, 2017, which was later converted to a statement.
Thompson resumes her testimony today.