After being on trial for two years, Acting Deeds and Commercial Registrar, Azeena Baksh yesterday called her final witness to testify on her behalf in relation to the trial in which she is charged for allegedly procuring money by false pretense.
Baksh, 33, of 343 Eccles, East Bank Demerara is on trial before Senior Magistrate Leron Daly in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Courts.
Particulars of the charge against her stated that while being a member of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) between May 1, 2014, and January 31, 2017, with intent to defraud, she caused or procured valuable securities to the sum of $4,534,480 to be delivered to her bank of Nova Scotia account #281469; or to her own use and benefit by falsely pretending she was a contracted employee of the Deeds and Commercial Registry Authority.
Baksh who is the daughter of Ali Baksh, former Junior Agricultural Minister under the previous administration of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, has denied the allegation.
She is currently out on a $250,000 bail pending the hearing and determination of the trial.
When the matter was called in the courtroom of Magistrate Daly, Baksh’s final witness, Nandkishore Gopaul, a former Permanent Secretary, went into the witness box where he testified on Baksh’s behalf.
After the final witness took the stand, attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes, who is representing the defendant, closed his case.
Hence, Magistrate Daly adjourned the matter until November 14 when the lawyer is expected to hand over submissions to State Prosecutor Teshanna Lake.
Magistrate Daly will then hand down her ruling.
According to information, staffers at the Deed Registry called in the Ministry of Legal Affairs to investigate their complaints of alleged financial improprieties committed by Baksh.
According to the Ministry, the Human Resource and Accounting Departments 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 and one of the main signatories on the Authority’s Bank Account, the Registrar unlawfully paid herself gratuity.
It was also reported that Baksh did this knowing that she was a pensionable employee, having been appointed by the JSC.
She further alleged to have unlawfully paid herself a higher salary than was approved by the JSC. Those payments starter in 2014
and continued up to 2017.