The Court of Appeal has granted an interim stay in the trial of Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall who is charged with converting $2.3 M in law reports to his own use and benefit.
This stay was granted until October 1, 2019 when the judges are expected to resume work. Nandlall failed to attend court on June 6, 2019 when the matter was called for another hearing at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
Even Nandlall’s lawyers did not attend and no formal message was sent to the presiding Magistrate Fabayo Azore indicating the reason behind their absences.
This prompted Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) Prosecutor Patrice Henry to request that a notice be sent to Nandlall informing him of his next court date.
It is alleged that Nandlall, between May 18, 2015 and May 29, 2015, while being a bailee in the then capacity of Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, fraudulently converted 14 Commonwealth Law Reports, valued at $2,313,853, to his own use and benefit. The law reports were the property of the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
Nandlall had pleaded not guilty to the charge and the prosecution has already closed its case. Magistrate Azore had called on Nandlall to lead a defence after ruling that there was prima facie evidence against him.
But Nandlall moved to the High Court to challenge the magistrate’s decision to overrule a no-case submission by his lawyers.
However, Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire dismissed the challenge and now Nandlall has taken his fight to the Court of Appeal.
Nandlall was previously reported as saying that when he took up the post of Attorney General, he did so at a loss and it was for that reason he agitated for the State to pay for the Law Reports.
He had said that the arrangement received the blessings of the then Head of State, Donald Ramotar. However, investigators are contending that because the books were bought with state funds, they cannot be the property of Nandlall and, in fact, the State should not have entered into such an arrangement in the first place.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs is further contending that there is no evidence of an agreement between Nandlall and Ramotar and, even assuming that there was such an agreement, the use of public funds in this manner is a flagrant violation of the Financial Management and Accountability Act.
Nandlall was charged after SOCU, an arm of the Guyana Police Force, completed investigations.