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Derek Achong

Lawyers representing an elderly couple from Tobago are seeking to place a hold on the finances of a former Tobago House of Assembly (THA) assemblyman and current employee, who owes them almost $400,000 over an unpaid loan used to perform renovations to a church. In a letter sent to THA chief secretary Ancil Dennis on Thursday and obtained by Guardian Media, lawyers representing Fitzroy and Cordella Pantin, of Bethel, Toabgo, requested that they be provided with details of Handel Beckles’ salary, gratuity and bank account to assist them in recovering the debt. The couple sued Beckles, his aunt Merle Beckles-Benjamin, and their church Impact Ministries Tobago, after they gave Beckles an almost $280,000 loan to do work on the church building in Mt Pleasant in Tobago and were not repaid. In defence of the lawsuit, Beckles claimed he did not owe the couple as the money represented gifts and tithes, which were freely given to the church. In May 2019, former High Court judge and current Appellate Judge Ronnie Boodoosingh upheld their breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation case and ordered that they be repaid the loan plus interest and their legal costs for pursuing the lawsuit. Five months later, the couple’s lawyers registered the debt with the Registrar General. It still was not paid. In the letter to Dennis, the couple’s lawyers revealed that they were seeking the information on Beckles’ remuneration package as an employee of the Implementation Unit of the THA’s Division of Works and Transportation as they intend to seek garnishee orders to recoup the debt. Dennis was given seven days in which to provide the information. The Pantins’ lawyers also noted that they copied the letter to the political leader of the Tobago Council of the PNM Tracey Davidson-Celestine as Beckles had been shortlisted on her slate in the THA Elections, earlier this year. The Pantins are represented by Martin George and Ashelle Edwards