Customs Officer and two brokers arrested and charged with fraud and conspiracy, and will spend long weekend in custody

This just in: The Magistrates Court will be convened tomorrow, Saturday, to accommodate the hearing of the matter involving the Customs Officer and two brokers who were arrested and charged today, Friday.

Three people are now in police custody following allegations of fraud at the Antigua and Barbuda Customs Department.

A reliable source tells REAL News that the trio – a female Customs officer who cashiers at the Department and two brokers – were arrested and charged today, Friday, July 29, with fraud and conspiracy.

The amount in question is some $26,000 and is based on investigations into the Department that began over three years ago.

Reportedly, millions of dollars were misappropriated from the Department, and Finance Minister Gaston Browne has claimed, publicly, that his signature had been forged on certain documents.

A source tells our News Department that the Police had planned to take the three accused before a magistrate this (Friday) afternoon. However, no presiding officer was available to deal with the bail hearing, since the Chief Magistrate had already left for home.

The source says she was informed of the matter only after 2 p.m. today.

Accordingly, the trio will have to spend the long holiday weekend in the lock-up, since due to the nature of the charges they cannot be granted station bail.

The next available court date is Wednesday, August 3, after the Carnival festivities.

It was noted that one of the accused had been asked to turn up at the police station in the morning, but did so later, preventing the matter from being taken before the court at an earlier time.

A source also alleges that the Police executed a search warrant earlier today at the home of one broker.