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Defence Board to discuss GDF Officer’s name in govt vehicle scam

GDF Coast Guard Commander, Gary Beaton.

The link between former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guard Commander, Gary Beaton and his partner, former Public Service Minister, Dr. Jennifer Westford in an alleged vehicle scam is to be discussed by the Defence Board in early August, according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon.

“Once it has to do with a very senior officer it is the responsibility of the Chief-of-Staff, who sits on the Board as well, if he considers it serious enough that it affects defence or security arrangements in the country,”  said Harmon who is  also Secretary to the Defence Board.

Police have already confirmed that they had questioned Beaton during the early days of the probe into the alleged acquisition and attempted transfer of several state-owned vehicles. Beaton has been listed as one of the beneficiaries for three of the eight vehicles, while one was earmarked for Westford.

Beaton and the other persons to whom the vehicles should have been allegedly transferred have not been charged with any offence.

Asked by Demerara Waves Online News whether the Defence Board had discussed Beaton’s implication in the matter, Harmon said at the time the decision-making body had met the police had not made a determination of the matter and so it was not on the agenda.

Westford and Principal Personnel Officer at the Public Service Ministry, Margaret Cummings have been charged and granted a total of GUY$2 million bail for attempted larceny and forgery respectively.

The Minister of State explained that the involvement of the Defence Board is triggered by a report from the Chief of Staff. “I don’t think that the Chief of Staff and the army hierarchy is insensitive to issues of that nature,” he said.

The Defence Board is responsible under the general authority of the Minister for the Command, discipline and administration of all matters, except operational use, relating the Guyana Defence Force.

The Defence Act states that the Defence Board is made up the President, as Chairman of Board, Prime Minister, the Public Security Minister, the Chief-of-Staff and not more than three other persons appointed by the Minister.