… as State prosecutors submit heavily redacted forensic audit report
High Court judge Navindra Singh stayed the fraud related charges against the former Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) Deputy General Manager (GM), Madanlall Ricky Ramraj after the special prosecutors representing the State presented a heavily redacted forensic audit report which forms the basis of the charges.
Justice Singh had ordered the Prosecution to produce a copy of the said report ahead of the continuation of Ramraj’s High Court challenge.
His attorney Anil Nandlall contends that the Prosecution’s actions violate his client’s right to a fair trial, adding that the blocked out sections made the document unreadable.
Almost one year after six former GRDB members were arrested and subsequently charged with “fraudulent omission” from the company’s ledger, Ramraj moved to the High Court to have the case quashed.
An application was fixed for hearing before Justice Singh for “an order for a permanent stay of proceedings, or an order quashing, vacating or setting aside the charges of Fraudulent Omission [case] pending before Georgetown Magistrates’ Court 2 in the Georgetown Magisterial District.”
Moreover, the application outlined that the impetus for the stay stemmed from the “failure of the Prosecution to disclose a copy of the Forensic Audit Report on the Guyana Rice Development Board prepared by Nigel Hinds, Forensic Auditor, which formed the basis for certain investigations launched by the Special Organised Crime Unite (SOCU). As a result of which the Applicant was charged for the offence of Fraudulent Omission.”
Nandlall contended that the failure to disclose a copy of the audit report “constitutes a violation of Article 144 of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, more particularly, the right of the Applicant to be afforded facilities for the preparation of his defence and other protections of the law secured under and guaranteed by the said Article 144.”
On May 19, 2017 Ramraj, former GRDB General Manager, Jagnarine Singh, Badrie Persaud; former Deputy Permanent Secretary (Finance) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Prema Roopnarine, PPP Parliamentarian, Nigel Dharamlall and head of the Rice Producers Association, Dharamkumar Seeraj were summoned by SOCU for questioning in relation to the GRDB’s operations from the years 2011 and 2015.
They were later that day charged and bailed for fraudulent omission of records with regards to the PetroCaribe Fund.
The charge read that between 2011 and 2012, the former employees, on 17 occasions, failed to make proper entries into the company’s register and between the same period, they, with intent to defraud, omitted or concurred to be omitted $8.5M from the general ledger of the GRDB knowing same to be against the organisation’s operating procedures.
The Opposition has since expressed strongly their opinion that SOCU is being used as a tool to continue the witch hunting of political opponents, and it’s being diverted from its intended purpose.