PRINCIPAL Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus is expected to preside over the trial against Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Paul Slowe, along with eight other current and retired senior ranks of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), for an alleged conspiracy to defraud the force of some $10M.
Also charged are former Assistant Commissioner of Police Slowe; retired Assistant Commissioner, Clinton Conway; current Assistant Commissioner, Royston Andries-Junor; Assistant Commissioner, Claude Whittaker; Senior Superintendent, George Fraser; Superintendent, Mark Gilbert; Assistant Superintendent, Marlon Kellman; Woman Senior Superintendent, Marcelene Washington, and retired Senior Superintendent, Michael Sutton.
On Thursday, the case was called before the Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan, at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court. Slowe and Washington were once again absent since they are currently out of the jurisdiction.
The prosecutor handling the case made an application for summary disposal so as to allow the defendants to plead to the indictment. The Chief Magistrate has set June 23, for the defence to reply to that request.
The Chief Magistrate also transferred the case to the Magistrate Isaacs-Marcus.
The particulars of the charge allege that Slowe, Conway, Whittaker, Fraser, Gilbert, Andries-Junor, Washington, Sutton and Kellman, between March 1, 2019 and July 7, 2020, at the GPF Headquarters, conspired to defraud the Force of $10,056,000 by paying Slowe, Conway, Whittaker, Fraser and Gilbert, the said sum, without complying with the proper procedures.
They were not required to enter a plea to the indictable charge, and were released on $100,000 bail each. Slowe and Washington did not appear to answer to the charge, as they are presently not within the jurisdiction.
The charge was laid after an investigation by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) revealed that former Commissioner of Police, Lesie James, unilaterally hired Conway, Whittaker, Gilbert and Fraser, all former GPF officers, to conduct a complete revision of the force’s Standing Orders in March 2019.
SOCU is alleging that James made no contractual agreements, with specifications, of what was to be revised, and the terms of payments, and that neither did he prepare a budget for the service that was being rendered.
Further, SOCU posits that seeing that the payment was in excess of $10M, it should have been budgeted for, and sent to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) for approval; however, James never sought nor received approval from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Security nor the NPTAB.
SOCU is contending that the same Standing Orders James hired the ex-officers to revise had already been revised “by highly qualified and competent policy analysts” of the Strategic Planning Unit of the GPF. It was also discovered during the said SOCU investigation that while the enormous sum of money was paid to the former police officers, they are yet to provide the force with a completed revised Standing Order.
The probe found that from March 2019, payment accounts were prepared upon the instruction of then Head of the Strategic Planning Unit (SPU), Assistant Commissioner Royston Andries-Junor, and when he was transferred to the force’s Public Relations Department in November 2019, he allegedly instructed his successor to continue making the payments, which was done until February 2020.