Canada’s High Commissioner mum on Charrandass Persaud departure; police tight-lipped on “matter of national security” probe

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 December 2019, 13:35 by Writer

Canadian High Commissioner Guyana, Lilian Chatterjee

Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Lilian Chatterjee, on Thursday refused to comment on her mission’s involvement in facilitating the departure of former government parliamentarian, Charrandass Persaud, even as Police Commissioner Leslie James said a probe was underway into a matter of “national security”.

Asked what led to the High Commission’s Security Officer, Richard Beliveau’s presence at the Eugene F. Correia ‘Ogle’ Airport, the High Commissioner declined to comment on the matter. “It is not the Canadian High Commission’s practice to comment on consular cases involving Canadian citizens,” she said when asked by Demerara Waves Online News.

Persaud is a Canadian citizen.

Expecting that Guyana and Canada would continue their now 52-year long “very  close relations”, she confirmed that “I did” meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge on Wednesday. “I have no further comment,” when asked for an outcome of the talks.

The Police Commissioner would only say that investigators were probing a “matter of national security importance” but he declined to provide any details until a press conference is held “shortly”. He declined to disclose what prompted the investigation into Persaud and “I could not determine credibility of the evidence but I can say at this point we’re gathering evidence”.  “You look at the matter; it’s a matter where a former member of parliament is reported to have been involved allegedly in some matter and that is what we’re dealing with,” he said.

James did not want to say whether the investigation was into alleged bribery, gold smuggling or his departure through the Eugene F. Correia International Airport. Police have not contacted Persaud, he said, but that would be done “if that becomes necessary”.

AFC Defector, Charrandass Persaud.

On whether police were also investigating the involvement of People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) member, Peter Ramsaroop’s involvement, the Police Commissioner said he would not make any further disclosure at this time.

Ramsaroop has confirmed acquiring a protocol pass from the Ogle Airport Duty Officer on December 22, 2018, the day after Persaud voted for the opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion, and accompanied the former lawmaker to a Barbados-bound LIAT flight.

Ramsaroop, who had been seated immediately behind Persaud throughout the debate on the motion in the House and later whisked him through a Parliament Building back gate and into a waiting car, has already said the former lawmaker had asked him for protection because he was expected to vote on the no-confidence motion.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and Ramsaroop have denied communicating with each other on Ramsaroop’s ‘Yes’ vote plans. Ramsaroop has said he had assisted Persaud, a former Alliance For Change member, in his personal capacity.