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The law will take its course”- PPP on Westford “illegal” state vehicle transfers

Former Public Service Minister Dr. Jennifer Westford

by Zena Henry

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) says it is no stranger to letting the law take its course, and that is exactly what it expects to happen in the case of one of its party members at the centre of an alleged “illegal” state vehicle transfer scandal.

The allegation by the new government that former Public Service Minister Jennifer Westford played a role in attempting to illegally transfer eight state vehicles to herself and associates was highlighted last week; and is the first major embarrassment for the opposition party since it came out of office over a month ago.

PPP executive member Gail Teixeira was reluctant to comment on the issue Wednesday June 24 but noted that, “If the law is upheld and it is found that any of the persons or persons has been guilty or committed an offence then the law takes its course and the party will take its own views n a number of issues as well.”

The former PPP Chief Whip said, “When an allegation is made, it is investigated to assess if there is any merit or truth in what is alleged.” She said, “Based on ones findings they will act accordingly.”

She stated however, that in many cases matters are thrown out on technicalities “so one has to ensure that the investigation is in accordance with laws, rules and protocol that are in place.” She said she expects this will be observed by the government, “Although some of their behaviour show they are not willing to do that.”

She said, “Generally, the PPP has always said let the law take its course.” While she noted that she was not particularly au fait with the case and those implicated, Teixeira said “we have always stood by the implementation and upholding the law. If the Commissioner of Police in his judgment feels a certain way and is of a certain opinion and the Director of Public Prosecutions, these matters take their course.”

In the meantime, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said during todays weekly Cabinet meeting that, the vehicles involved in the probe “were all returned”. He said, between Friday night and Saturday morning, five vehicles were returned, with three arriving earlier in that week.

He reminded that government was prepared to offer amnesty to those involved, and suggested that whoever returned the vehicle sought to capitalize on the offer. Despite government’s offer of amnesty, he noted the mandate of the Guyana Police Force to investigate the matter, and said a determination will be made after this investigation.

“I have the documentation, the receipts from the officers here in the Ministry of the Presidency as receiving them. I can’t tell you exactly who brought them in but they’re all here and I think that is the major matter.”

He said that a Black Kea, PSS 500, “which came back very early, is already being used by the Ministry. In relation to the condition of the vehicles, he said “all except one drove in on their own steam.”

The state asset recovery unit will be moving toward recovering further assets, he noted. They have already started assembling persons who may function in that unit and “already we have started receiving calls from people from all over the world who want to help; people who know where things are,” Harmon posited.