PPP questions: Out of 16 GRDB Directors, why only 6 linked to PPP charged?

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…says political victimization evident

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has condemned the move by the Special Organised Crimes Unit (SOCU) to arrest and charge another two of its Members of Parliament and four other Guyanese citizens who are aligned to PPP.

Those charged were identified as former GRDB General Manager, Jagnarine Singh,  former Deputy General Manager of the GRDB, Rickey Ramraj, 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. 

They were arraigned in court for allegedly omitting from the general ledger of the GRDB, $362 million while they served on the entity’s board. They were not required to plead to the indictable charge which stated that from years 2011- 2015, they fraudulently omitted records regarding the PetroCaribe Fund.

However, according to the PPP, “SOCU itself had admitted that its investigations are incomplete and, as such, was unable to provide statements to the court. If its investigations are incomplete, on what basis were the six persons charged?”

Moreover, PPP posits that the charges made are matters of accounting and not issues that the Directors would have been directly responsible for. Again, the PPP questions the basis for the charges advanced.

Furthermore the political Opposition contends that while there were 16 persons in total who acted as Directors for the GRDB for the years cited by SOCU, the six persons charged are only those who have been linked to the PPP.

The Party feels strongly that SOCU is being used as a tool to continue the witch hunting of political opponents, and it being diverted from its intended purpose.

See full statement below:

Guyanese have witnessed today the depths to which the Coalition government has sunk, in continuing with its political victimization.   The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) condemns move by the Special Organised Crimes Unit (SOCU) to arrest and charge another two of its Members of Parliament and four other Guyanese citizens.

The two PPP/C Parliamentarians and four others, who are supporters and perceived to be supporters of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), were charged by SOCU on Thursday (May 18, 2017) and arraigned in court today (May 19, 2017).   However, SOCU itself had admitted that its investigations are incomplete and, as such, was unable to provide statements to the court. If its investigations are incomplete, on what basis were the six persons charged?

The six persons – PPP/C Parliamentarians, Dharamkumar Seeraj and Nigel Dharamlall; amongst others – at various times acted as Directors on the Board of the Guyana Rice Development Board.

According to the details of the charge, between  January 1 and December 31, 2012, with intent to defraud they did not include the $77.3M in the general ledger of the GRDB’s Republic Bank account for Agriculture Life Skills programme.   SOCU prosecutors contends that similar offences occurred for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015 for transactions totaling $9.7M, $130M and $145M.

However, while there were 16 persons in total who acted as directors for the GRDB for the years cited by SOCU, the six persons charged are only those who have been linked to the PPP.

Moreover, the charges made are matters of accounting and not issues that the Directors would have been directly responsible for. Again, the PPP questions the basis for the charges advanced.

These charges also come at a time when our MPs are engaged in community outreaches across the Coastal Regions.

The Party reiterates its position that SOCU is being used as a tool to continue the witch hunting of political opponents, and it being diverted from its intended purpose. The Unit’s establishment was part of Guyana’s international obligations to strengthen its Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) apparatus.

The PPP will not be not be intimidated, nor will we be silenced or cease our efforts to expose the wrong doings of the APNU+AFC government.

The actions of SOCU reflect the latest ‘another act of desperation’ by the Coalition Government, more so coming after the publication of its list of ‘non-achievements’ in its two years in office.

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