—court told that prosecution’s statements not ready, raising questions on grounds for chargesTwo People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Parliamentarians – Dharamkumar Seeraj and Nigel Dharamlall – as well as four party supporters –Ricky Ramraj, Badrie Persaud, Jagnarine Singh and Prema Roopnarine, were arraigned today after being charged by the Special Organised Crimes Unit (SOCU).
They appeared before Chief Magistrate, Ann Mc Lennan and were released on GYD$500,000 bail each. They were also ordered to lodge their passports.
The charge, according to SOCU, is that the six persons – while acting as Directors on the Board of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) – failed to enter a total of $362M in transactions into the Board’s general ledger during the years 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
There was no claim that the money is missing or that it was misappropriated, only that it was not entered into the GRDB general ledger, which is the role of the Board’s accounting officers, not the Directors.
As one of the defence lawyers and PPP/C Parliamentarian, Anil Nandlall, argued that, “They are charged not to defraud any sum of money. No sum of money is missing…that is a clerical function. If it is to be preferred, the omission to do so should not be placed at the feet of the Board of Directors.”
Also part of the defence team is Attorney-at-Law and PPP/C Parliamentarian, Priya Manickchand, who is representing Seeraj and Ramraj. In relation to Ramraj’s case, she argued, “My client is of the view that the reason charges were made yesterday was to stop him from speaking.”
Currently several community meetings have been organised by the PPP/C and are ongoing across the coast.
Meanwhile, the court was told by the SOCU prosecutor, Michael Somersall, that the prosecution’s statements ready. This is the same state of affairs with PPP/C Parliamentarian, Anil Nandlall.
Questions have since been raised as to how the charges have been filed, if the SOCU prosecutors’ investigations are incomplete, hence the unavailability of statements.
The six persons charged today are expected to return to court on June 23, 2017.
SCENES FROM COURT TODAY:
PPP/C MP, Nigel Dharamlall