Head of Transparency International Guyana Inc. (TIGI), Dr. Troy Thomas is flabbergasted and more so disappointed that a major case regarding alleged fraud at the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) was recently dismissed by Senior Magistrate, Leron Daly due to the absence of Special Prosecutor, Lawrence Harris.
Guyana Standard had reported that there were four charges before former GRDB General Manager, 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 of the Ministry of Agriculture, Prema Roopnarine.
The charges alleged that between January 1 and December 31, 2012, with intent to defraud, they omitted or concurred to be omitted $77.3M from the general ledger of the Guyana Rice Development Board’s (GRDB) Republic Bank account.
Similarly, between January 1 and December 31 of the years 2013, 2014 and 2015 with intent to defraud the entity, they omitted or concurred to be omitted from the said Republic Bank account, $9.7M, $130M and $145M for the three respective years. (See link for more details on the case: https://www.guyanastandard.com/2019/10/17/no-show-of-socu-prosecutor-sees-362m-fraud-charges-being-thrown-out-against-six-former-grdb-officials/)
During an interview with this news site, Dr. Thomas said, “It is quite disappointing that the case was thrown out due to the Prosecutor’s failure to turn up. And I can’t understand why the prosecutor would not show up. He was paid by the State for this. This is really bad for the anti-corruption fight…If this is how we are treating such cases then the need to avoid corruption would not be taken seriously.”
The TIGI Head added, “I don’t know what the excuse could be for not showing up. …But an explanation is needed. There needs to be accountability, public money was spent on the audit and for that special prosecutor to be on the case.”
The transparency advocate stressed that under no circumstance should Guyanese accept that this case was thrown out without understanding who is really responsible.