Accused Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) cashier, Gregory Barnes is actively fighting extradition and deportation to his homeland where he could face fraud charges that involves millions of dollars.
Gregory Alistair Ewan Barnes, 32, is reportedly being represented by former US Justice Department official, and noted Immigration Attorney, Kurt R. Saccone.
The former GRA staffer was arrested in New York in February on an Interpol warrant, after he fled Guyana way back in 2009.
At the time he had escaped detention here after an investigation was launched into the discovery of a massive fraud at the GRA.
Following his arrest, Barnes was turned over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for a visa violation and is expected to be deported to Guyana to face the fraud charges.
However, this newspaper understands that Barnes has secured the services of Saccone, a top immigration lawyer to block his return to Guyana.
At present, he is being detained by US authorities at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York.
Back in February this year a Buffalo News online report said that Cheektowaga police pulled over a four-door sedan for an expired inspection and illegal tinted windows.
Cheektowaga is part of the State of New York.
It turned out that the Guyanese driver of George Urban Boulevard in Cheektowaga was wanted by Interpol.
A computer check revealed there was an active warrant through Interpol on Barnes who was suspected of embezzling somewhere between $6M and $300M (US$29,000- US$1.4M) from GRA.
Barnes was stopped about 18:30hrs while driving a gold-colored Infiniti.
The warrant was confirmed through U.S. National Central Bureau, a division of Interpol U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C., Cheektowaga police said.
This newspaper had reported that in 2009, Barnes fled Guyana after he was reportedly being investigated for allegedly defrauding GRA of some $300M.
Local investigators, who badly wanted to get their hands on him, turned to Interpol for help and posted a wanted bulletin.
Investigators believed back then that Barnes conspired with other staffers, including an IT official of GRA, to delete evidence of taxes and duties paid by businesses to the agency from the main database.
However, the fraud unraveled after the IT employee failed to delete a payment made. The cashier was reportedly questioned for two days by GRA before he fled the country.
Another staffer, Garfield Pearson of South Ruimveldt Park, was charged with four counts of embezzlement. It was alleged that in October 2009, at the GRA Head Office, located then on Main Street, he stole over $6M from his employer, the GRA. Pearson was the Systems Engineer at the time and was posted in the Information Technology department, the Prosecution said. Barnes had reportedly fled Guyana in the midst of the investigations.
The police contended in the charges against Pearson and Barnes that between January 2008 and October 2009, the latter was employed as cashier. It was alleged that the two conspired to steal over $3M paid by businesses for containers by deleting records of the transactions on the GRA system.
Barnes was allegedly caught with $1M cash in his possession, according to Prosecutors.
GRA sources, back in 2009, said that the scheme was much larger and in total up to $300M may have been lost in revenues by GRA and by extension, the State.
Barnes’ next court hearing in the United States is on April 1.
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