Witness: Curtis spent $129,681 on personal expenses

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Andre Curtis spent just $215,568 of the $345,250 he received from Government for Faith-Based Tourism on that project, a forensic accountant alleged yesterday.

Prosecution witness Todd Boyd said Mr Curtis spent the other $129,681 on personal expenses and construction projects that had nothing to do with FBT, and on cash withdrawals from the bank.

Among the items he listed were banking charges, as a large number of Mr Curtis’s cheques bounced. Another item was a $25,000 payment to the New Genesis Ministry.

Pastor Dwight Grant from that Ministry told the jury earlier this week that Mr Curtis felt moved by God to donate the money after a Bible study session.

Mr Curtis is on trial at Supreme Court accused of stealing the cash that was allegedly diverted from FBT. He was supposed to be organising ten religious events to attract at least 2,200 visitors to Bermuda between April 2007 and 2008.

Government refused to pay him the remaining instalment of his $400,000 contract when he could not prove he had met those obligations.

Mr Curtis is further accused of false accounting in relation to what the prosecution says are untrue figures that he sent Government in respect of FBT.

Mr Boyd said that after analysing Mr Curtis’s banking records plus other evidence gathered by the police, he could not find a figure anywhere near the $536,845 the defendant told Government he’d spent on FBT in a budget document.

The accountant added that although Mr Curtis said he’d spent $41,000 advertising Faith-Based Tourism events over the period April 2007 to April 2008, he could only find records that $8,657 had been spent.

Mr Boyd also alleged that Mr Curtis appeared to have “misappropriated” $271,000 paid to him by Andrew Smith, who hired him in December 2006 to do a building project at his Flatts home.

Mr Curtis denies stealing from Government and Mr Smith and false accounting.

Cross-examining Mr Boyd, defence lawyer Mark Pettingill suggested that the only stipulation in Mr Curtis’s contract with Government as to how he should spend the $400,000 from them related to $2,250 per month on office rent.

Mr Boyd agreed. He also agreed that neither the FBT contract nor the building contract made any reference to what profit Mr Curtis was entitled to make from the deals.

Mr Pettingill said that according to Mr Boyd’s calculations, Mr Curtis made a 38 percent profit on his Government deal and a 14 percent profit on his building deal.

The accountant agreed. However, he took issue with the defence lawyer’s suggestion that the accountant was “expecting to find something wrong,” with Mr Curtis’s finances, since he was hired by Bermuda Police Service to examine them.

“I’m an independent, I don’t distort the facts. There would be nothing to gain and all to lose,” said Mr Boyd.

Prosecutor Kirsty-Ann Kiellor closed the case for the Crown at the end of Mr Boyd’s evidence, and the jury was told to come back on Tuesday, as the lawyers wish to engage in legal arguments on Monday.

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