Prosecution in audit cases hindered by ‘fearful’ witnesses, says Ramjattan

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The move to bring those allegedly responsible for financial transgressions discovered by audits is being slowed by fearful witnesses. This was revealed today by Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, who was asked about the apparent lack of prosecutions and sloth in prosecuting errant public officials.

Minister Khemraj Ramjattan
Minister Khemraj Ramjattan

Addressing stakeholders at the Golden Jubilee ‘National Symposia Series’, underway at the Arthur Chung International Convention Centre, Ramjattan said the Government is keen on bringing those responsible for impropriety to justice wherever they may be.

“Minister (Jennifer) Westford has been charged and that’s pending. The trial is going on as I understand. There is somebody with her who has been charged. The fellow from GPL, Aeshwar Deonarine has been charged and Mr. Carvil Duncan has been charged, prosecution is going on there. We have asked the Canadian Royal Mounted Police to find Mr. Aeshwar Deonarine (former Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Administration), they are going to find him soon and he is going to be sent back here,” Ramjattan is quoted as saying at the event, in a report issued by the Government Information Agency.

Minister Ramjattan stated that there are “lots of other forensic audits that indicate they should go further on, into police investigations” but the lack of a witness protection programme is stymieing the prosecution’s efforts.

“A lot of the witnesses that gave their evidence to the auditors are scared like hell to give their evidence to the police now, knowing that those fellows that they might bring to court, know that they can suffer at their hands,” Ramjattan posited.

The Public Security Minister said a witness protection plan was not available locally, “so they are scared.”

Ramjattan said he is not going to push persons to testify and “when they go to the Magistrate’s Court, they say, ‘I can’t remember’ so you compel them to take the stand and there is nothing you can do”. He indicated, however that Government is trying to see how best this hurdle can be overcome.

“This Administration will never allow stolen monies to remain with those who have stolen those monies. We are going to get them back, and that is why we have set up this SARU (State  Assets Recovery Unit)”.

Government has embarked on a series of audits of Ministries and Agencies to ascertain their financial status and unearth any suspected improprieties.

 

 

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