SOCU Investigators testify in trial against Omar Shariff
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Former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of the Presidency, Omar Shariff
Former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of the Presidency, Omar Shariff

THE trial against former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Presidency, Omar Shariff, and his reputed wife, Savitri Hardeo, commenced before City Magistrate Fabayo Azore at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

The two were charged with failure to provide court-requested documents to the police in January. The trial commenced with the testimony of Superintendent of Police, Brian Vieira, who is an investigator attached to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).

Vieira, while being led by Special Prosecutor, Patrice Henry explained to the court that he conducts investigation into financial cases such as money laundering and that on June 30, 2016 about 08:30 hrs he was given a search warrant made out in his name and given certain instructions by SOCU’s Head, Assistant Commissioner, Sydney James.

“As a result of those instructions, I headed a search party to the home of the defendant, Omar Sharif, at Dowding Street, Kitty,” the witness explained.
According to Vieira, upon arrival at the premises, he made contact with Shariff’s reputed wife, Savitri Hardeo and identified himself to her as an officer and the nature of his visit. He further noted that he read her the search warrant, requesting the couple’s financial records, inclusive of electronic equipment that they might have information about.

“In her presence I supervised the search during which I retained several financial documents, two laptops, an electronic tablet, an external hard drive and two laptop bags also containing financial files,” the witness said in his evidence in chief.

The Superintendent noted that he gathered his finding in boxes and told Hardeo she would have to accompany him to SOCO Headquarters when she requested to call her husband, which he granted.
“I placed a call to Commissioner James informing him on the finding of the search. He then give me certain information, as a result I remained at the premises in the company of Hardeo and the items.”

He noted that within 20 minutes, Assistant Commissioner, Sydney James arrived with other ranks and a male, whose name he learnt later to be Omar Shariff. Vieira told the court that James took possession of the box, which contained the findings and left with Shariff, while he [Vieira] returned to SOCO headquarters.

Under guidance by the prosecutor, Vieira recalled that on November 4, 2016, he had interaction with Shariff, when the accused visited SOCU headquarters to deliver six boxes of financial records for James.

The witness explained that he had informed Shariff that the Assistant Commissioner was not in office at the time but he was willing to take the boxes and deliver it safely to him.

Shariff, the witness disclosed, handed over the six boxes containing the documents and an envelope.

Also testifying, was Superintendent of Police, Trevor Reid, who is in Investigator attached to SOCU. Under oath in the witness stand, Reid explained that he investigates cases of money laundering.

He explained that on September 2, 2016 he received information from Assistant Commissioner, Sydney James and as a result he prepared a search warrant and executed it on Krishandat Hardeo and his wife, Diaram Hardeo, the man’s wife. Krishandat is the brother of the female defendant. The search was carried out at their Vergenoegen, East Bank Essequibo home.

Reid testified that he informed the couple of the warrant and that they need to hand over all electronic or hard copies of documents related to money laundering between them and Savitri Hardeo.

“In their presence, several documents related to the transaction of Savitri, Omar Sharif and them were found,” Superintendent Reid told the court.

He further explained that he took possession of the findings, along with a laptop and ordered the couple to accompany him to SOCU headquarters. There was no cross-examination of the witnesses since Sanjeev Datadin, the Attorney of Omar Sharif, and his reputed wife, was absent in court.

The Magistrate adjourned the matter until March 23 for the witnesses to be cross- examined and the continuation of the trial.

The case is being prosecuted by a six-member team of attorneys – Trenton Lake, Michael Somersall, Hewley Griffith, Lawrence Harris, Patrice Henry and Compton Richardson.

Omar Shariff was fired from the post of Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Presidency, which took effect on December 31, 2016.

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