Theft is still theft, regardless of when it occurred, says Guyana’s Vice President (VP), Bharrat Jagdeo, hours after a law enforcement agency read fraud charges to an opposition stalwart.

Opposition Elections Scrutineer, Carol Smith-Joseph was summoned on Friday to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU)’s Headquarters, where she was questioned in relation to 14 transactions she allegedly greenlighted in 2016 during her role as Director of the Mahaica Abary Rice Development Scheme (MARDS). She purportedly made these transactions, amounting to GYD$ 6,121,108 without the board’s approval. According to SOCU, Smith-Joseph reportedly used the funds for her own purpose.

The woman’s lawyers are now crying political discrimination, noting that the charges come days after their client moved to the court to quash a contentious voters list by suing the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM); the Chief Elections Officer, Vishnu Persaud; and the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall.

“The present administration has been in office since 2020 and no attempt was made to lay these allegations, not until Ms Joseph decided to file proceedings against GECOM,” her lawyer, Nigel Hughes was quoted as saying by this publication earlier today.

Jagdeo, however, during a press conference today, remarked: “They said, ‘oh, the PPP should have filed the case against Carol Joseph two years ago because two years have passed [since] we are in government’ [but] theft is theft, it could be filed anytime.”

The VP said that the opposition coalition, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) was not concerned about political discrimination when it held the reigns of government and presided over SOCU’s “harassment” of former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) ministers between 2015 and 2020.

“They never worried about SOCU harassing us when [former President Donald] Ramotar, myself, Irfaan Ali, Anil Nandlall, Frank Anthony – everybody. We all had to go through SOCU, every single Minister from the past government…They didn’t have a problem with that [but] they’re worried now about Carol Joseph and missing money at MARDS,” Jagdeo stressed.

Smith-Joseph is expected to return to SOCU on December 16 for additional questioning.


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