At least eight vehicles belonging to the Public Service Ministry (PSM) that were purportedly sold to a former government minister and several others were recovered.
Former Public Service Minister Dr. Jennifer Westford and her paramour Coast Guard Commander Gary Beaton are among several persons questioned by police in connection with the sale and attempted transfer of the government vehicles and their fate now rests with State prosecutors.
Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud told Demerara Waves Online News that the vehicles were “returned through the efforts of Ms. Westford.”
The Police Commissioner said the file would be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for advice. That advice could determine whether anyone should be charged and for what offences.
Head of the Criminal Investigations Department, Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum told Demerara Waves Online News that the file could be dispatched for legal advice as early as Wednesday.
President David Granger has fingered Westford and Beaton among several persons in whose names state-owned vehicles were being transferred to. Two senior employees of the Public Service Ministry are also being investigated about the roles they allegedly played in the scheme.
Correspondence on the Public Service Ministry’s letterhead and purchase receipts have since surfaced in what is clearly the first major scandal facing Westford’s main opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) since it lost power at the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections.
PPP General Secretary, Clement Rohee has said that Westford has been advised on a certain course of action but he declined to provide details. Westford, for her part, has refused to discuss the issue in the media.
The matter has been also engaging the attention of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the agency that had been written to requesting the transfer of registration from the PSM to a number of persons.
Receipts purportedly from PSM dated July 18, 2014 show that Wayne Walker purchased vehicles bearing registration number PJJ 8113 and PKK 2175 for GUY$740,000, Dr. Jennifer Westford purchased PJJ 3344 for GUY$500,000, GUY$2.1 million from Beaton and GUY$300,000 from Delroy Lewis.
According to a letter dated April 14, 2015 to the GRA Commissioner General Kurshid Sattaur, a request was made for the registration of eight vehicles: Two for Walker, one for Lewis, one for Westford, three for Beaton and one for Osbert Mc Pherson on grounds that they were either registered in PSM’s name or were being used by that ministry but were now sold. That letter was signed by Margaret Cummings for Permanent Secretary, Hydar Ally.
By May 29, Ally had written to the Former Minister of Public Service seeking her help in finding six vehicle that had been either loaned or owned by that entity as well as a GUY$9 million Kia Sorento vehicle that had been bought from Rudisa Motor Company in August 2013.
News of the alleged scheme broke when the GRA boss wrote the PSM’s Permanent Secretary on June 10,2015 requesting that he reissue the request for transfer of registration because the GRA’s policy dictates that no requests for transfers should be made before a new government takes office.
Five days later, the Permanent Secretary responded to the Commissioner General of the GRA saying that the request for transfers dated April 14 should be withdrawn and that he had seen no paper trail showing that the vehicles had been sold.