Claiming that he was not aware that he was wanted for questioning in Guyana, Former accountant at the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Peter Ramcharran, was this morning slapped with 39 fraud related charges for alleged breaches at GRDB, an independent state agency that regulates the rice industry.
Ramcharran, 39, of Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan this morning, moments after his arrival in Guyana. He was deported from Canada where he was fighting extradition to Guyana for over two years.
However, a Canadian court recently denied an application for refugee status and ordered that he be deported to Guyana to face the 39 fraud charges.
While in court this morning, the Chief Magistrate spent about 25 minutes reading the charges to Ramcharran who was standing in the prisoner’s dock.
Particulars of the first five charges alleged that between the years 2015 and 2011, Ramcharran while being the accountant of GRDB, omitted to enter some $414 million in the GRDB ledger.
Ramcharran was slapped with 17 charges which alleged that he along with former General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Jagnarine Singh and his deputy, Madanlall Ramraj, omitted entries into the company ledger.
The charges alleged that Ramcharran omitted to enter true entries of over $4.2M 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.
The last 17 charges alleged that Ramcharran along with Singh and Ramraj fraudulently took $5.1M or used the sum for their own use and benefit, or any use and purpose other than that of the GRDB.
When asked by the magistrate why he was not present in court when his matter was being called on several occasions, Ramcharran told the court that he was not aware of any charges and Guyana.
He added that he had not the slightest clue that he was wanted in Guyana for questioning in relation to fraud charges.
The Magistrate then told the court that on June 5, 2017 SOCU head, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sydney James had testified that he had contacted Ramcharran via Facebook and WhatsApp informing him that he was wanted in relation to fraud.
James had disclosed that when he contacted Ramcharran he told him that he was fearful to return to Guyana.
However, Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) Prosecutor, Patrice Henry strongly objected to bail being granted to Ramcharran on the grounds that investigations are still ongoing which may likely yield other charges.
He also added that base on the serious nature of the allegations, if bail is to be granted to Ramcharran he might not return to court for the trial, since he was already trying to seek refuge in another county.
The Magistrate, after listening to the prosecutor, remanded Ramcharran to prison until March 25, 2019.
According to information, Ramcharran is heavily implicated in the probe with regards to the six former GRDB board members who have pleaded not guilty to the allegations.
The officials charged are former General Manager of GRDB Jagnarine Singh; former Deputy General Manager of GRDB Madanlall Ramraj; General Secretary of the Producers Association (RPA), Dharamkumar Seeraj; former Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Nigel Dharamlall; former General Manager of the Guyana Oil Company Badrie Persaud; and the Deputy Permanent Secretary Finance Ministry of Agriculture, Prema Roopnarine.
A forensic audit, one of several ordered by the Coalition Government, had found several alarming things at GRDB.
From about 2009 to 2015, Guyana, under the administrations of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, had entered a multi-billion-dollar oil-for-rice arrangement where GRDB was clearing out for farmers. However, millions of dollars of those monies were reportedly siphoned off via third-party arrangements including rental of ships and other sweetheart deals for a few millers.