Former Public Service Minister, Dr Jennifer Westford and her Personnel Officer (PO) Margaret Cummings were on Monday placed on $4.8 million bail each when they appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts to face 24 charges of larceny by a public servant.
Fledged by her seven Attorneys; Bibi Shadick, Neil Boston, Dexter Todd, Keisha Chase, Eucie Anderson, Brendon Glasford and Rexford Mc’Kay, Dr Westford, 54, and Cummings entered Court Three where they were read the indictable charges by Magistrate Judy Latchman.
The 24 charges stated that between August 23, 2011 and April 28, 2015, at Georgetown while being employed as public servants by the Government of Guyana, they stole $639,420,000, monies that they received in virtue of their employment.
Police Prosecutor Bharrat Mangru told the Court that Westford acted in her capacity of a Minister and signed a number of memorandums for the total sum of $639,420,000 and sent them to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry who in turn approved them.
The payment vouchers were made by the Office of the President and sent to the Ministry of Finance. The Court further heard that the Ministry of Finance issued the cheques and Cummings signed for them. The cheques allegedly were made out for the purpose of financing various activities of the Ministry of Public Service across the ten administrative regions, however, an investigation carried out revealed that these activities never took place, nor were there any documents to show how the money was spent.
The Prosecutor objected to bail on the grounds of the seriousness of the offence as well as the quantum. He further made reference to the former Minister’s status in society stating that if released on bail there is a high likelihood of witness tampering. He closed his objections saying that it is also unlikely that the duo would return to Court.
Attorney Maxwell objected to the Prosecutor’s statement saying that his clients deny all of the allegations. He further stated that the Prosecutor is making his statements on hearsay, reprimanding him for instigating bias in the Court. He further stated that his clients are currently facing several charges in Court Five and have been attending all of the sessions and have been fully cooperative with the investigators.
Based on the Attorneys’ response, the Magistrate overruled the objections and granted bail. The two accused were granted bail in the sum of $200,000 on each count, a total bail cost of $9.6million.