The State, represented by Prosecutors Natasha Backer and Teshanna Lake, this afternoon, closed its case in the $600M larceny charge against former Minister of Public Service Dr. Jennifer Westford and Ms. Margaret Cummings.
Westford and Cummings are facing trial for allegedly stealing $639,420,000 between August 2011 and April 2015, while being employed in the Public Service of the Government of Guyana.
They have both denied the allegation and are currently out of $4.8M bail each.
When the trial continued today, Hector Butts, the Finance Secretary at the Ministry of Finance was among the witnesses called by the prosecution to give evidence.
During his evidence, he told the court that police had requested information from him on whether or not funds were released from the public sector modernization project in 2011.
Among other things, Butts told the court that records were checked within the Ministry of Finance to see whether or not the project commenced in 2011.
After calling a few more witnesses, the prosecution closed its case. Lawyers for Westford and Cummings, who include Senior Counsel Neil Boston and Dexter Todd, were given until July 31, 2018 to present their client’s defence.
According to court facts, Westford of Lot 55 ‘AA’ Victoria Avenue Eccles, East Bank Demerara (EBD) was employed as Minister of Public Service from 2001-2015, while her co-accused was the principal personnel officer of the Ministry. Cummings of Lot 709 Section ‘A’ Diamond, EBD was also in charge of the Ministry’s accounts department.
It was discovered that on numerous occasions, Westford signed memoranda amounting to $639,420,000 and sent them to the Office of the President for approval. Approval was granted and cheques were prepared and encashed by Bank of Guyana (BoG).
The monies were requested to carry out various activities throughout the 10 administrative regions. However, personnel from the various were contacted and denied ever receiving the cash. Investigations were carried out but the monies were never recovered.