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Witness testimonies continue in Westford $$$ fraud trial

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 January 2017, 12:32 by Derwayne Wills

City magistrate Judy Latchman has instructed former public service minister Jennifer Westford; and former public service ministry permanent secretary, Margaret Cummings to return to court on January 19, when SOCU detective inspector, Richard Frank will once again take the witness stand.

Frank today testified before magistrate Latchman and was cross-examined by prosecutor Teshanna Lake. Frank told the court he contacted the Office of the President accountant, Alwin Williams, who handed over a copy of a memorandum of understanding dated June 12, 2012 with Dr Westford’s signature and the ministry stamp.

Frank said the accountant also handed over vouchers at the value of $10M dated June 8, 2012 and payable to Margaret Cummings. Further, Frank continued, a Bank of Guyana cheque at the value of $10.2M was handed over also payable to Cummings.

Frank said he contacted Westford on June 12, 2012 and related the allegations to her, to which she said “no comments!”

According to Frank, Cummings was later contacted on August 13, 2012 where the allegations were read against her and she “choose to remain silent.”

Frank did 13 other investigations similar to the ones before the court against Westford and Cummings. The SOCU detective said while statements were submitted, he could not recall certain meticulous details. Prompting some resistance from Westford’s attorney, Neil Boston SC.

Also on the witness bench today was Deputy Accounting General of the Finance Ministry, Jennifer Chapman, who is one of the signatories on cheques coming from the Finance Ministry.

The matter will be brought up again on January 19.

Dr. Westford and Ms. Cummings face 24 charges alleging that they stole more than $639M from the Government of Guyana.

The charges state that between October 19, 2011 and April 28, 2015, Westford and Cummings, while being employed at the then Public Service Ministry, stole $639,420,000 belonging to the Government of Guyana, which they received by virtue of employment.

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