By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The courtroom at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court was packed to capacity this morning (Monday, October 13) as many turned out in solidarity with Publisher of the Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall and his wife Bhena Lall, who appeared before Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry to answer fraud and aiding and abetting charges.
The charges were filed by Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Khurshid Sattaur on behalf of the tax agency after weeks of back and forth between Lall and Sattaur.
The charges read that both Mr. and Mrs. Lall knowingly dealt with goods with intent to defraud the state and evaded taxes that was payable to customs. They were placed on self bail.
Both defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. The charges stemmed from the importation of two Lexus vehicles by Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanans who are friends of the Lalls.
The Brijnanans imported the vehicles when they moved back to Guyana under the re – migrant scheme which allowed them duty free imports. The Guyana Revenue Authority is alleging that the vehicles were being used by Lall and his wife from time to time.
Lall had the support of his entire staff and Editor-in-Chief of his newspaper Adam Harris, who hugged him as he exited the Court with his wife by his side arms in arms.
The defendants will reappear in court on November 24 and the matter was transferred to Court three by the Chief Magistrate. The lawyers – Mahendra Satram and Sandil Kissoon – who both represent the GRA did not object to bail.
Lall hired a high power team of lawyers, including Senior Counsel Rex McKay, Khemraj Ramjattan, Nigel Hughes, Christopher Ram, Joseph Harmon, Brendan Glassford, Bettina Glassford and Robin Hunte.
These lawyers are also representing the Brijnanans. The Kaieteur News Publisher even asked if the Guyana Times Newspaper was in attendance at the Court and seemed relieved that they were when a reporter was identified.
When Lall was heading out of the court compound, scores of persons were outside cheering and screaming his name and made their support for him known.
The Brijnanans are currently out of the country and are expected to make their Court appearance with the Lalls on November 24.
The couple is maintaining that there was no breach of the tax laws of Guyana.
However,the GRA Head has pointed out that for the vehicles which cost approximately US$90,000 each would have attracted taxes of approximately US$251,000 (GYD$51M); adding that the total taxes that were evaded are close to $100M.