Lambirds Academy CEO files civil claim against Government of St. Lucia
President and Chief Executive Officer of Lambirds Academy, Dr Iftekhar Shams has filed a claim in the civil court against the Government of St. Lucia on the grounds of Malicious Prosecution and Wrongful Imprisonment.
Shams, arrested in February 2015 by Major Crimes Unit investigators, nine months after first setting foot in the country, spent two years in jail fighting what he claimed were false charges against him.
All attempts on his part to post bail while imprisoned were rejected. Since his release, he tried many times to meet with Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Head of the Invest St. Lucia, the company who invited him to St. Lucia in 2014, all to no avail.
He said his last hope to regain some of his wealth, all of which was taken away as a result of the charges against him, as well as his dignity, now lies with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
A millionaire and international businessman, Shams entered St. Lucia on 1 May, 2014 to attend a three-day investment forum held at one of the Sandals Resorts shortly after his arrival.
He said it was Invest St. Lucia which invited him to the forum, arranged his visa and facilitated all permits and licenses to run Lambirds Academy.
“As a result Lambirds Academy became a 100% percent legitimate academy duly approved by the Ministries of Education, Health, Commerce and the British awarding body OTHM,” Shams said.
However after one month of the academy’s opening, Shams was arrested and slapped with eight counts of human trafficking, 49 counts of obtaining property by deception and one count of money laundering. He refuted all the charges, claiming them as false. The courts appear to have agreed with him as the money laundering case was dismissed by Magistrate Ermin Moise in October 2015.
The charges of obtaining property by deception were withdrawn by the Director of Public Prosecution in January of last year while the human trafficking charges were dismissed by Senior Magistrate Phulchere four months ago.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the money laundering case but that appeal was struck out in December of last year.
Claiming to be completely exonerated by the court system and proclaiming his innocence in all the charges against him, Shams set out to rebuild the damage to his reputation. However, according to him, this was easier said than done.
He said the unfounded allegations against him cost his family –brothers, children- their livelihoods and destroyed him worldwide.
He also said that he is both mentally and financially broken, has no place to go, frustrated and has lost hope in St. Lucia. He wants his belongings that include properties, documents and money in the care of the State and frozen in other countries released since he has been exonerated in a court of law.
He said what was done to him by St. Lucian authorities has red flagged him all over the world in that he now cannot invest anywhere as no country in the world will accept him.
To prove his point he said that Invest Trinidad and Tobago and Invest Dominica have both rejected his application as a foreign investor because of the human trafficking sticker pasted on his face by the Major Crimes Unit.
He said that he came to St. Lucia with big dreams but the police, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, a broken justice system and nasty politics transformed his dreams into a unique story of riches to rags.
Fighting Shams case in the civil court is attorney Dextor Theodore Q.C.