An elderly couple has taken former Tobago House of Assemblyman Handel Beckles before the High Court for fraud after he refused to repay a loan he allegedly took from them.
The trial begins today in the Tobago High Court before Justice Boodoosingh.
The couple, Fitzroy Pantin and Cordella Pantin, alleges that Beckles of Bethel, Tobago and other persons swindled them of more than $500,000 in cash, materials and other donations and purchases for Impact Ministries Church.
According to a statement from the couple's attorney- Martin George and Co, Beckels claims that the $538,359.28 in cash, materials and other donations from the couple's " life savings... were gifts and tithes given for the cause of God...and not a loan."
In his High Court statement, Beckles said he belongs to "a Christian Church Organization that subscribed, adhered to, advanced and promoted, based on the Holy Bible, the principles of tithes offerings and free-will gifts to the cause of God”.
The couple's attorney is seeking the original sum allegedly loaned, interest and legal costs from Beckles and Impact Ministries Church.
Magistrate Michael Broomes represents Beckles in the matter.
Handles won the Bethel/ Mt Irvine seat in the January 2013 Tobago House of Assembly(THA) elections.
He served in the THA as Assistant Secretary in the Division of Works and Infrastructure for one term.
Reporter: Camille McEachnie