Westford, Cummings charge ‘bad in law’- lawyer

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Former Public Service Minister Dr. Jennifer Westford

Magistrate to rule on no-case submission Thursday

COME August 16, Principal Magistrate Judy Latchman will make her ruling on the no-case submission in the case of former Public Service Minister Dr. Jennifer Westford, and her Personnel Manager Margaret Cummings, who are accused of stealing $600M from the State.

The women’s attorney Dexter Todd had called for the charge to be dismissed citing that it was “bad in law.”

The women are charged with stealing $639,420,000 belonging to the Government of Guyana, which they allegedly received by virtue of employment between the period of October 19, 2011 and April 28, 2015, while being employed with the former Public Service Ministry.

Margaret Cummings

It is also alleged that between 2011 and 2015, Westford signed 24 memoranda amounting to $639,420,000 and sent them to the permanent secretary at the Office of the President to be signed and approved. The money was said to have been requested for activities to be conducted in the 10 administrative regions.

Todd, during his submission noted that the prosecution had failed to establish that a criminal offence was conducted by Dr. Jennifer Westford or Margaret Cummings individually.

“The prosecution has failed to establish both mens rea and actus reus in the offence of Larceny by a Public Officer. The prosecution has ignored the lawful meaning of a public officer and proceeded to try a then Minister under an offence which is not established in law,” the attorney noted.

He also stressed that the prosecution failed to prove that the monies were actually stolen and if, that it was stolen by the two defendants.

Special prosecutor, Natasha Backer urged the court to find that the charges were ‘good in law’ the two defendants were then officers of the state.

Backer noted that Dr. Westford had requested memoranda for particulars sums of monies which were supposed to be used for specific projects at different times of the year. The money was handed over to Cummings.

The prosecutor urged the court to follow the trail of money since there was no evidence of the projects being conducted since the monies allegedly went missing after being handed over to the women.

“The evidence cries out for an explanation of what happened to the money,” Backer noted as she urged the court to call upon the two defendants to explain to the court, people and the State as to where the money went.

The matter is adjourned until August 16 for Magistrate Latchman to rule on the no-case submission.