Pastor to stand trial for money laundering

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Pastor Vinworth Anthony Dayal.

La Romaine pastor Vinworth Dayal has been committed to stand trial on money laundering charges.

The charges, laid in July 2021, alleged that the $28 million-plus in $100 cotton bills that he tried to get exchanged at the Central Bank in 2019 were proceeds of criminal property.

Dayal appeared virtually before Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle on Wednesday when he was committed to stand trial. He was put on $10 million bail.

Twenty six witnesses gave evidence either in person or their statements tendered at the preliminary inquiry before the chief magistrate who also dismissed a no case submission advanced by Deyal’s attorneys Pamela Elder, SC, and Richard Mason.

Leading the State’s case was special prosecutor Wayne Rajbansie. Prosecutor Candace Job also appeared with Rajbansie.

The charges against the pastor are that on December 31, 2019, he possessed criminal property in the amount of $28,028,600 in TT currency, which represented in whole, or in part, a pecuniary advantage to himself as a result of criminal conduct contrary to the Income Tax Act, knowing or having reasonable grounds to suspect that those proceeds were criminal property.

The second charge alleges he was in possession of $2,691,338, on January 2, 2020.

Both charges were laid under Section 45(1)(b) of the Proceeds of Crime Act and were laid 18 months after he tried to exchange the money, which has since been held in an interest-bearing account.

December 31, 2019 was the last day on which the Central Bank said it would accept cotton $100 bills to exchange for new polymer bills.

Dayal, who heads the Third Exodus Assembly Church in Longdenville, Chaguanas, went to the bank with close to $28 million to exchange, in 28 boxes.

Police were called in after he could not provide proper documentation for how he got the money. He said it came from tithes which he collected over the years.

Police searched his house at Ocean Avenue, Gulf View, La Romaine and seized an additional $2 million in smaller bills.

The $100 cotton notes are no longer legal tender.