GRA clerks charged over $19.4M fraud involving forged cheques

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L-R: Leroy Green and Ivor Dowridge

Several clerks of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) were today charged in relation to the $19.4M fraud involving forged cheques which were cashed at the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI).

Those charged are GRA staffers Ivor Dowridge, 26, of Cummings Lodge, Georgetown; Tooqwan Clarke, 25, of West Ruimveldt, Georgetown; Randi Gladstone, 38; and accountant Leroy Green, 26, of Kitty, Georgetown.

They appeared before Magistrate Leron Daly at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court where they were granted $600,000 bail each, except Gladstone who was remanded to prison.

The first charge stated that Gladstone conspired with Leroy Green, Ivor Dowridge, Tooqwan Clarke, Rameschand Singh, Komalram Persaud, Devindra Moteeram, Anush Khan, and others to forge a Bank of Guyana cheque dated 2021-04-09 amounting to $9,550,000, purporting to show that same was issued by the GRA, Internal Revenue Department, knowing same to be forged.

It is also alleged that Gladstone conspired with Leroy Green, Ivor Dowridge, Tooqwan Clarke, Rameschand Singh, Komalram Persaud, Devindra Moteeram, Anush Khan, Shereesa Tappin, and other persons forged a Bank of Guyana cheque dated 2021-04-09 amounting to $9,875,000, in favor of Shareesa Tappin purporting to show that same was issued by GRA’s, Internal Revenue Department, knowing same to be forged.

The matter has been adjourned to July 2.

Randi Gladstone

On Tuesday, five persons – four men and a woman – were charged in relation to the incident.

Those charged are: Romeschand Singh, 40, of Grove Squatting Area, East Bank Demerara (EBD); Komalram Persaud, 25, of Golden Grove, EBD; Devindra Moteeram, 24, of East La Penitence, Georgetown; Anush Khan, 29, of Diamond, EBD; and Shareesa Tappin, 26, of Clifford Avenue, Georgetown.

The four men were released on $600,000 bail each with the condition that they report to Assistant Superintendent Caesar every other Monday until the hearing and determination of the trial. However, the woman was remanded to prison.

The issue was unearthed after an employee of the Bank called GRA to confirm the issuance and the amount on the cheque that was attempting to be cashed. That was the fourth cheque as three others were already cashed.

The cheques were cashed at different branches of the bank in question – one at Diamond, EBD, and the other at its Regent Street, Georgetown location.

In a letter to the Bank of Guyana (BoG) on the issue, the GRA Boss Godfrey Statia confirmed that the cheques were forged since GRA cheques are stamped “not negotiable” which means that the banks are not allowed to cash them but deposit it into the payee’s account.

Further, it was pointed out by the GRA Head that the signatures of the payee on the cheques in question do not clearly match that on their ID cards. It was against this backdrop that Statia said the fraud was perpetrated as a result of negligence at best or collusion at worst on the part of the commercial bank.

He added that the fact that the bank employee would call to verify the authenticity of the cheques shows that there are rules and operating procedures in place to minimise or prevent such occurrences.

Further, the GRA Head requested the BoG to ensure such requests not be accepted from its account, and that the commercial bank is liable for the fraud.

INews understands that the money that was debited from GRA’s account in the fraudulent transaction will have to reinstated.