The National Assembly has been supplied with copies of a critical report compiled by the Office of the Ombudsman on criminal charges filed by police in 2007 against three senior managers of the New Building Society (NBS).
According to a statement from the office of Ombudsman, Justice Winston Moore, the copies of the report are for the purpose of laying them before the National Assembly.
“I have also decided to publish the report in the public interest. My decision to do so at this time is partly influenced by publication of erroneous statements made about findings supposedly made by me in the said report. I trust that the persons concerned and interested members of the public will now read the report and see for themselves what I have written,” the statement said.
The report pertains to an official complaint made to the Ombudsman’s office in January by former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NBS, Maurice Arjoon.
Arjoon, in his complaint, said he and two managers, Kissoon Baldeo, and Kent Vincent, were deliberately and maliciously charged by police for a $69M fraud committed in late 2006.
Arjoon said that he believed that the trumped-up fraud charges, later dismissed in the Magistrates’ Court, stemmed from his refusal to lend $2B for the construction of the Berbice River Bridge.
Government had been seeking financing for the project. Arjoon reportedly told his Board of Directors that the regulations barred the institution from lending that much. NBS voted to invest $350M in the project.
Arjoon claimed that his refusal to illegally lend the $2B angered former President Bharrat Jagdeo, who was in power at that time.
Arjoon, who has been insisting his innocence from day one, said in his complaints that over seven years were taken away from his life.
Justice Moore, who has sweeping powers to investigate abuse by public officers, hired former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Henry Chester, DSM, who, in reviewing a copy of the police files, found that based on the evidence, there was no way that the three men could have been charged.
The police files did not include a key exhibit.
The men were sacked by NBS in 2006. Arjoon has filed a high court action to overturn the decision of NBS to dismiss him saying that he lost his benefits as a result.
The explosive report raised serious questions about the rush by the police to lay charges; the role of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the role played by the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana.
The publication of excerpts of the report has seen Minister of Labour, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, denying that he had a conversation with the former CEO that Jagdeo was upset with him.
The Minister was a former Board member and Chairman of NBS.
Gopaul also questioned whether the Ombudsman even had jurisdiction to examine the complaint.
However, the Ombudsman in a recent statement insisted that Gopaul should read the report.
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