“I was both appointed to act and subsequently confirmed as DPP by the Judicial Service Commission, not the President,” DPP
Director of Public Prosecutions Shalimar Ali-Hack is questioning how a criminal matter ended up before the
Ombudsman for his pronouncement.
The DPP was responding to a report carried in sections of the media, which dealt with the Ombudsman’s report on a matter involving the dismissal of three senior officials from the New Building Society, following a fraud investigation at that financial entity.
The Ombudsman’s report, which cleared the three officials, appears to find fault with the police investigations into the matter and by extension the subsequent advice given by the DPP.
The DPP has taken umbrage with the Ombudsman pronouncing on the matter which she pointed out does not fall under his jurisdiction.
“While the Ombudsman’s functions are expressly stated in Article 192 and 193 of the Constitution, Article 193 specifically states the excluded matters of the Ombudsman. A reading of these articles does give rise to question how this criminal matter came to be ‘entertained’ by the Ombudsman,” the DPP wrote.
But the Act governing the Ombudsman states:
It shall not be necessary for the Ombudsman to hold any hearing and, subject as hereinbefore provided, no person shall be entitled as of right to be heard by the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman may obtain information from such persons and in such manner, and make such inquiries, as he thinks fit.
If, during or after any investigation, the Ombudsman is of opinion that there is evidence of any breach of duty, misconduct or criminal offence on the part of any officer or employee of any
department or authority to which article 192 of the Constitution applies, the Ombudsman may refer the matter to the
authority competent to take such disciplinary or other proceedings against him as may be appropriate.
The Ombudsman’s role is to investigate complaints against persons who hold public office and it fits right into the case in question.
One of the affected NBS officials, Maurice Arjoon, had complained that former President Bharrat Jagdeo, present Minister of Labour Nanda Gopaul, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and the DPP all played a hand in the injustice he suffered.
Therefore the Ombudsman ruled that he had jurisdiction to probe the complaint.
His report questioned how investigators recommended charges when there was clearly no evidence on the police file.
But according to the DPP, she reviewed all statements in the police file and found that there was strong and compelling evidence to institute the charges against the employees as advised.
The charges against the three persons were dismissed after the victim of the alleged fraud did not turn up to give evidence.
The DPP stated that she cannot be responsible for the fact that the victim did not attend court to testify against these persons.
“What the DPP did was to give legal advice, based on the evidence in the police file and the law of Guyana, which I am constitutionally bound to do. No person can challenge this act of the DPP except a court of law and only where there is evidence that the DPP acted contrary to the Constitution or statute,” she argued.
According to the DPP, such a challenge was done, and the High Court of Guyana via Justice Dawn Gregory, did not find that the DPP acted contrary to the Constitution or statute by advising the police to institute the charges, but rather acted in accordance with the law.
She further stated that from all indications, the Ombudsman used an incomplete file to make his report, “yet, uncannily, he was able to pronounce that the persons have suffered grave injustice when they were charged. Surely it must be a small wonder in these twilight days.”
And the DPP took umbrage to a section of the report which suggested that she benefited from the favour of former President Jagdeo for her alleged role in the action taken against the three NBS Managers.
One of the Directors had stated that after the President was written to about the DPP wrongfully instituting charges against him, Jagdeo quickly confirmed the DPP.
“I wish to expressly and emphatically state that I was both appointed to act and subsequently confirmed as DPP by the Judicial Service Commission, not the President.
“In fact, I am the first DPP in Guyana to have been appointed as DPP by the Judicial Service Commission pursuant to the 2001 amendment to the Constitution.”
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