…ordered to repay state $4.5M on fraud charge
Former Deeds Registry official ordered to repay state $4.5M
SENIOR Magistrate Leron Daly on Wednesday ordered former Registrar(ag) of the Deeds Registry, Azeena Baksh to repay the state $4.5M or serve one year imprisonment.
The magistrate made the ruling after Baksh was found guilty of procuring money by false pretence while being in the employ of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
It was alleged that between May 1, 2014 and January 31, 2017 in Georgetown, Baksh caused or procured valuable securities in the sum of $4.5M to be delivered to her Nova Scotia bank account for her own use, pretending she was a contracted employee at the Deeds Registry.
Baksh was out on $250,000 bail during trial and was represented by attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes.
The magistrate ruled that she believed the case of State Prosecutor Teshana James-Lake, who proved to the court that Baksh was not a contracted employee and was also not eligible for bi-annual gratuity.
Baksh, the state contended, knew that she was not a contracted worker and placed her name on a memorandum which was taken to the Ministry of Finance and placed into her Nova Scotia bank account.
Magistrate Daly granted Baksh restitution and ordered that she repay the state $4.5M or serve one year imprisonment. She was ordered to pay $1.1M as an initial payment and the remainder within three months.
The Guyana Chronicle had reported that in April 2017, the Ministry of Legal Affairs said that staff of the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority (DCRA) had called upon it to investigate complaints of alleged financial improprieties committed by Baksh.
The Human Resource and Accounting Departments of the DCRA had complained that as Head of the Budget Agency and sole person in authority to approve and sign off the payroll of the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority, Baksh allegedly unlawfully paid herself gratuity, while knowing that she was a pensionable employee, having been appointed by the Judicial Services Commission.
On July 16, 2012, Baksh was appointed Acting Registrar of Deeds Registry with a stipulated salary of $326,171 monthly.
She was also entitled to duty, entertainment and house allowances as well as subsistence allowance when working out-of-district; duty-free concessions every three years; leave passage allowance and 42 days annual vacation leave; security at her residence; paid residential and mobile phone charges and monthly internet service charges.
The Judicial Services Commission did not grant her gratuity since she was not a contracted worker.
In May 2014, the Deeds Registry was merged with the Commercial Registry pursuant to the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority Act.