SOCU to appeal dismissed charges against GRDB officials

Former GRDB General Manager, Jainarine Singh

IN the aftermath of the dismissal of cases against former Guyana Rice Development Board (GRBD) General Manager, Jagnarine Singh, and his deputy, Madanlall Ramraj on Wednesday before Magistrate Judy Latchman, prosecutors are in the process of preparing their notice of appeal to the court.

The matters were dismissed for the want of witnesses.

“The GRDB witness for whom an arrest warrant was issued was available along with several other witnesses who were to be cross examined. These included the GRDB accountant and accounts clerk and two SOCU Staff. Further, this case had more than a dozen persons that have to testify,” a source at SOCU told the Guyana Chronicle on Thursday.

A total of seventeen charges against the duo were dismissed due to the lack of evidence from the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) prosecutors. They were jointly charged with 17 counts of omitting to enter true entries of over $4.2 M into the company’s ledger, knowing that it was contrary to standard operation procedures between 2011 and 2012, at the company’s Lot 16-17 Cowan Street, Kingston head office.

When the matter was recalled before Latchman on Tuesday at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court, SOCU prosecutors, Hewley Griffith and Lawrence Harris were expected to call their two final witnesses for the trial. However, the prosecutors had asked the court for an adjournment for the witnesses to be summoned since they were not present in court.

Former GRDB deputy, Madanlall Ramraj

The prosecutors failed to tell the court that their witness was before another court testifying in another SOCU matter. Defence attorney, Glenn Hanoman made an application for the matter to be dismissed on the grounds that the prosecution was given several dates for the witnesses to be present in court. The Magistrate ruled in favour of the attorney’s no case submission, citing that the prosecution failed to prove its case and was given enough time to gather their case.

Singh and Ramraj are also currently before Magistrate Fabayo Azore on 17 other charges of fraudulently taking $5.1M or using it for their own use and benefit or any use and purpose other than that of the GRDB. Also before Magistrate Leron Daly for the same matter are General Secretary of the Rice Producers Association (RPA), Dharamkumar Seeraj; former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Nigel Dharamlall; former General Manager of the Guyana Oil Company (GUYOIL), Badrie Persaud; and Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Prema Roopnarine.

They are charged with failing to make a proper entry into the register of a company, with the intent to defraud $362M from the entity’s Republic Bank account. In May, 2017, the six officials made their first appearance in court and were charged. They were released on $500,000 bail each, with reporting conditions.

The accused all pleaded not guilty to this charge as well.