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Ex-mp still free over $3m ‘life-altering’ money battle

Elliot Lockhart

Elliot Lockhart

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A FORMER MP and ex-Supreme Court judge was yesterday said to remain free almost two months after police issued a ‘wanted poster’ for him over allegations he has failed to repay an investor more than $3m.

Dr Paul Fuchs, whose criminal complaint against Elliott Lockhart KC triggered the police move, told Tribune Business that the loss of “life-altering money” has “taken an incredible toll on myself and my family” as they have been without the mult-million dollar sum for more than a year.

Speaking after the Supreme Court yesterday ruled it will not hear any further applications on the dispute by Mr Lockhart and his law firm, Lockhart & Company, “until their contempt is purged” and they comply with its orders, he added that “it’s hard to put into words” how devastating the money’s loss has been but voiced optimism that “justice will be done”.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force, in an alert issued on February 20, 2024, said it wanted to question Mr Lockhart over accusations of fraud by false pretences. Dr Fuchs, who yesterday confirmed this was sparked by the complaint he filed, said “as far as I know” neither the one-time Exuma MP nor Patricia Bullard, the interim administration director for his law firm, had either been detained or turned themselves in.

Describing yesterday’s verdict by senior justice Deborah Fraser “as very important” in the fight to secure the return of his family’s $3.033m, he added: “I have full confidence in the court and I’m sure justice will be done. I’ve been working diligently with the police in good faith to try and get the criminal complaint that I’ve made addressed.

“I’m sure the police are doing their best, but as far as I know, as far as we know, Lockhart and Bullard are not in custody yet. I filed a formal complaint with them, have been in communication with them. I have been working with them [the police]. Whatever they’ve asked for in data I’ve given to them. I’ve been working diligently to get the criminal complaint addressed. They’re doing the best they can.”

Dr Fuchs confirmed the $3.033m represents a sum paid to Mr Lockhart over a real estate transaction involving an Exuma-based property. When the deal fell through, he asked the ex-judge to return the funds, which should have been held in escrow in his law firm’s client account, but the latter has allegedly failed to do so.

“This has been taking an incredible toll on myself and my family,” Dr Fuchs told Tribune Business. “We gave him [Mr Lockhart] the cash for a real estate transaction in good faith. We gave that to them. When the real estate transaction didn’t occur we asked for it back.

“I’ve been out of my money for over a year. It’s taken an incredible toll on my family, my personal well-being and my personal mental health, and my family’s well-being and mental health. I’ve talked to colleagues, and they’ve suggested going to the US embassy in Nassau and looking at diplomatic options. I really don’t want to do that.

“I’m really hopeful the police will ultimately detain them, question them and make sure justice is done. It’s a massive impact. It’s profound. I can’t even explain the impact it’s had on myself, my wife and my family. It’s a profound negative impact on my mental health and well-being. It’s taking up a lot of time, energy and effort.”

Stressing that it was critical for himself and his family to recover the $3.033m, Dr Fuchs added: “It’s life-altering money. It’s a lot of money for anyone, but for me and my family it’s life-altering money. It’s just been a very trying situation.. It’s something that unfortunately is a daily problem in my life and our lives.

“We’re really hoping we can find an end. Hopefully, there’s an end and the police question them, detain them and make sure justice is done. It’s just something that is so hard to believe that, in this day and age, something like this can happen. It’s been a horrible situation; I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. It’s just been a horrible, terrible situation for my wife and children.

“My children are fully aware of what is going on, and it’s been very challenging for them to deal with it and see what I’m going through. It’s just hard to describe how trying it’s been. It’s hard to put it into words. It’s hard to articulate how challenging it’s been. It’s a tough situation,” he continued.

“You have to spend every day. You have to think about it and realise there is no break in the action. It’s a full-time situation, and takes a lot of time, energy and effort to try and address this. It’s hard to believe what happened. It’s hard to believe it.”

Senior justice Fraser, in her verdict yesterday, described the latest application by Mr Lockhart and his firm as “superfluous” and said she will not entertain them until they cure their ‘contempt of court’ by halting their violation of previous Supreme Court orders.

Detailing the progress made by Dr Fuchs’ “breach of contract” claim, a civil matter that is separate from the criminal complaint filed with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the judge recalled that a Freezing Order shutting down assets owned by Mr Lockhart and his law firm, thus preventing them from accessing/moving them, was granted on September 13, 2023.

This order was served on CIBC First Caribbean International Bank (Bahamas), which confirmed that the former judge and his firm held accounts with it, and that these “would be frozen in compliance” with the Order. Mr Lockhart, one week later, disclosed assets held by himself and his company but “failed to set out” the accounts held with the bank.

This prompted Dr Fuchs’ attorneys, Callenders & Co, to apply to the court seeking information from the BISX- listed bank given the “failure to disclose the accounts”. They also moved, on their client’s behalf, for a summary judgment against Mr Lockhart and his firm.

Following an October 11, 2023, hearing, the Supreme Court ordered that the ex- judge and Lockhart & Co were “jointly and severally liable” to return the $3.033m. Interest was to be added at an annual rate of 3 percent from September 8 last year to yesterday and, from hereon, the rate increases to 6.25 percent per annum until full payment.

CIBC, meanwhile, was ordered to provide details of account balances owned by Mr Lockhart and his firm up to $3.033m. The Supreme Court, in early December 2023, also made an interim third party debt order as the first stage in enabling Dr Fuchs to recover the sums owed by garnishing the KC’s bank accounts.

Early 2024 saw Dr Fuchs and his attorneys struggle to serve Mr Lockhart with the debt order and relevant documents as “he could not be located and the office of Lockhart & Co was closed”. Electronic service was eventually deemed sufficient, and CIBC in the meantime provided information on the number, type of, and balance held in Mr Lockhart’s accounts with them.

The KC and his firm were also ordered to produce a copy of the $3.033m cheque that they presented to CIBC, but “have not complied” as Mr Lockhart was unable to locate it. However, he and his law firm on March 17, 2024, applied to the Supreme Court under the Evidence Act demanding that the bank - not themselves - within seven days present that cheque plus account statements and all credits and debits.

Dr Fuchs and his attorneys, though, argued that Mr Lockhart and his law firm should not be heard due to their contempt of court over non-compliance with the Freezing Order. They added that they have already been given permission to apply for an Order committing the KC and Ms Bullard to prison due to this breach, while the evidence they sought has already been provided by CIBC.

Mr Lockhart had previously alleged attempts to return Dr Fuchs’ monies were unsuccessful, but he also “failed to present himself to the Royal Bahamas Police Force” over the criminal complaint. Senior justice Fraser came down in favour of the arguments by Dr Fuchs and Callenders & Co.

“I agree with the submissions of the Claimants’ counsel – to allow such an application would simply delay the matter and the defendants’ non-compliance with an order of the court indeed impedes the course of justice,” she ruled.

“It is the role of the court to ensure orders are complied with and not permit persons who voluntarily choose to disobey an order to make applications while flaunting their disregard of court orders. I will not allow it.

“For public policy purposes, and to preserve the public’s trust and confidence in the authority of the court, I must protect and preserve such authority. I am therefore not prepared to hear any application advanced by the defendants unless and until they have purged their contempt.”

Mr Lockhart is a former chairman of Nassau Flight Services, the Gaming Board of The Bahamas and the Police Inspectorate.

Comments

Dawes 3 months ago

Great advert for the good and great of this land. LOL all the time

DiverBelow 3 months ago

And We wonder Why potential investors recognize the Pirate Mentality of the Politically Elite? !& conveniently stagnant justice system. "Good'Old Boys" Club.

hrysippus 3 months ago

The PoPo looking for Mr. Lockhart, Can anyone tell them where to start? Hidden under a bench in the high court? Choice judgment might be worth a thought. Don’t neglect to check his Chamber of Law, And as a last resort; the liquor store.

ThisIsOurs 3 months ago

I was just thinking the same as I recall they couldnt stop Nygard from absconding with his assets, also in violation of a court order, because "a gate was locked". If he is hiding under the bench in the court who would reasonably expect the police to look for him there?

TalRussell 3 months ago

What exactly does the Colony's Bar Association do? --- The Bar Association as a regulatory organisation which 'supposedly oversees' all lawyers practicing law in the colony ----- Henceforth it be change-altering for it to be permanently barred from operating. --- Sometin' lawyer, journalist and politician, the late Honourale, Eugene Dupuch.might be in agreement with. --- Good Day!

TalRussell 3 months ago

What exactly does the Colony's Bar Association do --- Excepting 'clearing' the appointment of King Counsels'? --- The Bar Association as a regulatory organisation which 'supposedly oversees' all lawyers practicing law in the colony ----- Henceforth it be change-altering for it to be permanently barred from operating. --- Sometin' lawyer, journalist and politician, the late Honourable Eugene Dupuch.might be in agreement with. --- Good Day!

ThisIsOurs 3 months ago

"I’ve talked to colleagues, and they’ve suggested going to the US embassy in Nassau and looking at diplomatic options. I really don’t want to do that."

Listen to yuh friends.

this could be the sum total of his lifes earnings and meant to fund his retirement accommodations. That would be devastating

ExposedU2C 3 months ago

In the case of Elliott, the KC professional designation obviously stands for King Crook. And as many of us know only too well, there are many other KCs just like him in the legal profession in The Bahamas.

stillwaters 3 months ago

People like him and Cornish should never be walking around free in positions of power.

ExposedU2C 3 months ago

Elliot has no power ......... and the same applies to Fat-Head Corrupt Davis who protects him. LOL

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