Three of seven former officials of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and the Ministry of Agriculture were Friday freed of fraud charges totalling GYD$362 million, and already defence lawyers are asking the Magistrates’ court to dismiss similar charges against the four others.
Freed are former GRDB Director, Nigel Dharamlall, then Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Prema Roopnarine and former General Manager, Jagnarine Singh.
Dharamlall is a former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and PPP parliamentarian.
City Magistrate Leron Daly said the prosecution did not make out a case against the defendants and further that the directors were never responsible for including anything in the general ledger. She also noted that the prosecution did not take the general ledger to the court.
Defence Lawyer, Sase Gunraj has since asked the magistrate to dismiss similar charges against the defendants for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. “We are expecting the prosecutor to withdraw them,” he said.
Gunraj and Attorney-at-Law, Glenn Hanoman are representing the accused who are on GYD$500,000 bail for the charges that had stemmed from a forensic audit that had been conducted at that semi-autonomous state agency.
Others accused of the offences are President of the Guyana Rice Producers Association and PPP parliamentarian, Dharamkumar Seeraj; former General Manager of the Guyana Oil Company, Badrie Persaud and PPP Organiser, Dhanlall Dhanraj.
Details of the charges are that between January 1 and December 31, 2012 with intent to defraud the men omitted or concurred to be omitted GYD$77.3 million from the general ledger of the GRDB’s Republic Bank account for Agriculture Life Skills programme. They allegedly committed similar offences January 1 and December 31, 2013, amounting to GYD$9.7 million; between January 1 and December 31, 2014 for GYD$130 million from the said account and GYD$145 million from the same Republic Bank account.