…Remigrants fraud charge can only stick if they were not entitled to duty free concessions—lawyer
–says move designed to deprive owners of their vehicles
Almost one month after seizing two vehicles belonging to a remigrant couple, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has
filed charges of fraud against Publisher of Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall and his wife, Bhena Lall.
But lawyers for the Lalls have described the criminal charges as designed to deprive the two remigrants of their vehicles.
According to attorney-at-law Robin Hunte, the fraud charges relating to the two Lexus vehicles are stupid. The only way that it could stick is if it is proven that the remigrants, Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan, are not entitled to duty free concessions.
The Brijnanans are close family friends to the Lalls who have also been using the vehicles.
As a matter of fact, the Customs Act, under which the charges are filed, does not even say anything that a remigrant has to buy the vehicle.
It does, however, say that the remigrant must apply within six months of arriving in the country. It seems as if GRA is rewriting the law to suit its ends, the lawyer said.
“The law is not concerned about who gave it to you or whom you give it to or lend it to. The GRA is trying to create laws to suit itself. It must show which laws indicate that the people are not entitled to remigrant status. These charges are designed to deprive the people of their vehicle.”
Commenting on the tax fraud charge against the Lalls and the remigrant couple, Hunte said that the law does not even specify that the person importing the vehicles must buy then. Even the contention that a vehicle must be in a person’s possession for six months is not in the law, the lawyer said.
“The government should not be concerned with who gave the vehicles to them or to who the remigrants give the vehicle. The GRA is trying to create the law.”
Between August 29 and August 30, GRA officials went to the Continental Park residence of Brijnanans and made efforts to remove the two Lexus that was parked there.
It was taken voluntarily to GRA’s bond site at Eccles on August 30.
GRA contended the Brijnanans breached the duty-free concessions conditions. However, there is nothing in law that blocks the remigrant couple from having others drive their vehicles.
The move to seize the vehicles would follow reports by Kaieteur News which raised questions whether it was appropriate that three children of Khurshid Sattaur, GRA’s Commissioner-General, were working at the agency under him.
There were also questions in another case in which scores of vehicles and equipment, including luxury rides, were granted to Chinese logging company, under questionable circumstances.
GRA had refused to disclose the details of those concessions, citing confidentiality laws.
However, several pieces of confidential information regarding transactions of Kaieteur News were leaked by GRA to the state-owned Guyana Chronicle.
Recently, a damning email purportedly between Sattaur, Attorney General Anil Nandlall and former President Bharrat Jagdeo, indicated a plot to silence Kaieteur News and a number of other private media. Tax information for private media houses, including Stabroek News, was released.
There has been silence on the emails.
The charges follow the publication of the emails.
Government has filed numerous court actions against Kaieteur News, over reports that questions Government transactions and the way taxpayers’ dollars to the tune of billions of dollars were being spent.
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