Trinidad Guardian:- Senior officers of the Financial Intelligence Branch (FIB) are expected to make an application to a Port-of-Spain Magistrate today to detain additional millions recovered from the Third Exodus Assembly Church in Longdenville headed by Pastor Vinworth Dayal last Thursday.
It took investigators close to three days to count the additional money with the assistance of several billing counting machines that were found at the church in a cabinet filled with several bags with tithe envelopes.
Sources say the final count was between two and five million dollars and was concluded over the weekend. The money bags had contained $20, $10, $5 and $1 bills.
Sources told Guardian Media that this additional money together with the 29 million dollars already seized through a court order will be part of the same investigation.
Officers had visited the church last Thursday with Pastor Vinworth present as they widened their investigation into the financial operations of the church after the pastor attempted to change close to $29million in old $100 bills on December 31 to the new polymer note.
That money was later seized by police after a court order was obtained.
According to a senior police source, the money had to be counted within 96 hours so the lawmen can go to court and obtain a detention order to have the money lawfully detained for three months under the Proceeds and Crime Act so they can pursue further investigations.
The police had to go to the court before the counting of the $29 million that was brought in by Pastor Dayal on December 31 to ensure the amount could be lawfully detained before the December 31 deadline. If this had not been done the money would no longer have been recognized as legal tender.
On Thursday last, investigators also went to a La Romaine house occupied by the pastor’s relatives where they seized documents.
At the church, that same day, investigators found thousands of envelopes that contained tithes, according to Pastor Dayal, who was present during the search. The pastor explained that there were large brown envelopes with smaller white envelopes inside. The white envelopes contained old $100 bills that were removed to be exchanged and the brown envelopes contained all the “other types of bills.”
National Security Minister Stuart Young said on December 5 that the new polymer $100 bill would help authorities in their fight against money laundering and other illegal operations.
The public was advised to change their old $100 bills for the new polymer banknotes by December 31, 2019. However, the pastor came under scrutiny after he tried to change close to $29 million on the final day of 2019.
On Friday night last Pastor Vinworth in a sermon to his followers at the central church claimed that “Satan was trying to make him famous” and was unrepentant about the entire situation.