FRAUD at Little Diamond/Herstelling NDC
The spotlight is once more being focused on the Little Diamond/ Herstelling East Bank Demerara Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) as residents accuse the staff at the NDC office of being involved in fraudulent actions.
Reports are that two senior NDC officials have been fleecing persons contracted by the NDC to do cleaning and garbage collection in the area by having them sign blank cheques and receipts before they can uplift their payments.
The workers are also required to hand over their National Identification Cards (ID) to the NDC and some are even asked to pay a fee of $500 to have someone change the cheques on their behalf.
When these “employees” questioned why the payment was being conducted in this manner, they say that they are told that the Ministry of Local Government needs to “verify” the amount that they are being paid.
According to Zamo Ally, he was contracted by the NDC to clean drainage between Little Diamond and Herstelling at a rate of $160 per rod but he requested to be paid $500 per rod, which was promised to him. He was never paid.
“I was dissatisfied with the condition and payment of work where the Overseer told us that a new system is in place where the Ministry had to verify the amount so we can get paid. I never see the amount of money on the cheque but I had to pay $500 for the Overseer to cash my cheque. I am asking that this matter to be investigated thoroughly,” said Ally.
He said that he has been contracted to clean the drains for the past four years but this year the payment method was different.
“I had to cash the cheque myself and give back $24,000 to the office clerk at the NDC the said time March 3, 2012. I do believe the money is mine so I decided to give up the contract until things are done in the right manner.”
Ramesh Totaram, of Herstelling New Scheme explained that he has never asked or instructed former Overseer Prashad to change his cheque but he “had” to sign a blank cheque and receipt before he could be paid as well. He also had to give Prashad his ID card.
“The cheque #32144818 for $80,000 for the purchase of one (1) Massey Ferguson 165 engine back housing and one (1) hydraulic filter bolt, I NEVER sold the NDC, and neither did I collect ANY money for the said housing,” Totaram stated in a letter he had addressed to the Local Government Ministry.
As for Shamal Ally of Herstelling, he firmly emphasised that he has never requested or instructed the two senior officials to change his cheque, however, he was told that he would be paid in cash.
This was due to him querying cheque payments where the NDC would give someone a bounced cheque.
He, like others, was told to sign on a blank cheque and a blank receipt and to hand over his ID card which he would usually do.
Shamal stated that at no point did he ever receive a large amount of cash as reflected on cheques with his name from the NDC.
“I at no time received any large amount of money shown on cheque #321366844 for $98,000 because I was being paid $7,000 per load but only worked six loads which amounted to $42,000. The cheque showed $98,000 and these records could be verified from the guard book at C.C.I on the date of work. There is also another cheque that has similar problems,” said Shamal.
Copies of cheques dated from January 2011 to October of 2011 were also submitted to Kaieteur News where signatures of both the former Overseer and present Chairperson were visible.
Most of these cheques were encashed for sums over $50,000 for persons per month and payable to persons contracted by the NDC.
However, one man identified as Sohan Tulsidas, who was hired to collect garbage with a vehicle, was being paid $84,000 almost every month to execute his duties.
Residents are arguing that this payment is “unjustified” and is part of a “con scheme” since Tulsidas does not execute the duties for such payments.
“The contract say how he supposed to have a vehicle and come collect garbage but this man doesn’t own or have such a vehicle and getting paid. No garbage was ever collected by him. We are told he is closely associated or related to Sookdeo but we don’t know or care but this man getting a lot of money for invisible work,” stated one man.
Other villagers told this newspaper that cheques written in the name of a cleaner identified as Santy Balgobind Lindo would amount to an average of $70,000 a number of times during each month.
“This lady Balgobind Lindo is a cleaner and the NDC issuing cheques in her name for large sums of money even reaching over $100,000 sometimes. At the back of the cheques got the woman signature yes but it also got cash received by Prashad,” another man explained.
Copies of cheques dated September 30, 2011, October 7, 2011 and October 14, 2011 were submitted to this publication where it was evident that this was true.
In fact, these cheques were written and cashed for the sum of $175,000 for each date.
“Is why these cheques being paid so much in this woman name and she just got a simple job? Them at the NDC got good sense making people who don’t know better and working hard for their money sign on blank cheques so they can put large figures and steal out money,” an irate woman told Kaieteur News.
These residents are requesting the Ministry of Local Government to investigate this matter urgently and thoroughly since they are of the opinion that these individuals at the NDC will continue to “con” innocent persons and “fill their own pockets”.