“Law books” charge against Nandlall discontinued

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Anil Nandlall displaying the new series of Commonwealth Law books he bought to donate to the State

A charge of Larceny by Bailee against Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall has been dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Last Friday, Magistrate Fabayo Azore before whom Nandlall had been on trial for the offence discontinued the charge against him based on instructions from the DPP.

The charge against him, pursuant to Section 165 of the Criminal Law Offences Act, Chapter 8:01, stated that between May 18, 2015 and May 29, 2015 while being a bailee, in his capacity as Attorney General under the PPP/C administration, he fraudulently converted 14 Commonwealth Law Reports valued at $2,313,853, property of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, to his own use and benefit.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on his own recognizance (self-bail).

Nandlall had always maintained that the law books belonged to him.

In doing so, he had explained that when he was appointed Attorney General in 2011, he requested as part of his contract of service for the Government of Guyana to stand the expense for his subscriptions for the Commonwealth Law Books. He had subscribed to Lexis Nexis, the publishers of the law reports.

Insisting that nothing was abnormal about the practice, he had argued that it was done by other Government Ministries such as Finance and Health.

He had expressed awareness that for decades prior, the Government had paid for professional and technical publications, journals, periodicals and magazines. He had said that the arrangement received the blessings of then Head of State Donald Ramotar.

However, investigators are contending that because the books were bought with State funds, they cannot be the property of Nandlall, and in fact, the State should not have entered into such an arrangement in the first place.

The Ministry of Legal Affairs, under the leadership of Basil Williams, had contended that there is no evidence of an agreement between Nandlall and Ramotar. And even assuming that there was such an agreement, they further contended that the use of public funds in that manner is a flagrant violation of the Financial Management and Accountability Act.