The dismissal of a $362M Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) fraud case was not hinged on the absence of special prosecutors. In fact, even if these prosecutors were there, the outcome would have been the same. This is according to Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall.
The lawyer made these comments after Senior Magistrate, Leron Daly dismissed several fraud charges against six former high-ranking officials of the GRDB, when the Special Prosecutor Lawrence Harris, failed to show up.
Many have since taken to social media and other platforms to comment on the issue; noting that these ex-officials were “lucky to get off”.
Nandlall however, thinks otherwise. He said, “Whether these Prosecutors were absent or present, it would have made little difference. The truth is, like every other politically-directed charge, there was absolutely no basis to institute these and therefore, there was never going to be the evidence legally required to prove them to the satisfaction of a court.”
The former Attorney General went on to say that the dismissal was “destined”. He added that the auditor who compiled the forensic report, which served as the basis for the institution of the charges, never recommended criminal charges when he testified for the prosecution.
“The charges were vacuously fabricated and should never have been filed in the first place,” Nandlall argued.
The former Legal Affairs Minister noted too that one set of the charges was fully prosecuted and therefore, the Prosecution had the opportunity to bring all the evidence available. They did, but in the end, the charges were dismissed based on “insufficient evidence”.
The remaining charges were the same except that they related to different years. Therefore, the identical evidence would have been presented in respect of those charges.
“A court, having already found that the evidence available cannot yield a lawful conviction, is bound in law to dismiss the remaining identical charges, on the ground that it would be unfair to try all those charges when the result would be that they will, inevitably, be dismissed. The law says that it is an abuse of process to do so,” Nandlall argued.
The opposition-aligned lawyer said too that this will be the fate of all other “politically-inspired” charges.
The six officials charged were former General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) Jagnarine Singh; former Deputy General Manager Madanlall Ramraj; General Secretary of the Rice Producers Association (RPA) Dharamkumar Seeraj; former Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Nigel Dharamlall; former General Manager of the Guyana Oil Company (GUYOIL) Badrie Persaud and the Deputy Permanent Secretary Finance Ministry of Agriculture, Prema Roopnarine.
When the matter was called in the courtroom of Magistrate Daly on October 17, the court orderly summoned the Special Prosecutor, but no one answered.
This prompted Nandlall and fellow lawyer Glenn Hanoman who were representing the defendants, to make a request for the matters to be dismissed. The lawyers stressed the fact that apart from that court date, the Special Prosecutor would have been a no-show on several other occasions.
The Magistrate, after listening to the lawyers, dismissed all the matters against the defendants on the basis of want of prosecution.