– APNU MP Bulkan
Member of Parliament, Ronald Bulkan, of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), has lauded Ombudsman, Justice Winston Moore, for being fearless in executing his duties.
Earlier this month, Justice Moore completed a significant report on a complaint by a former Chief Executive Officer, Maurice Arjoon, of the New Building Society (NBS). The complaint by Arjoon would have been among the first major ones filed with the Office of the Ombudsman, which has sweeping, independent powers to investigate and make pronouncement on abuses by public officials, since Moore was sworn in, back in January.
The former CEO said that he was deliberately and maliciously charged in 2007 after he refused to illegally lend $2B of NBS money for the construction of the Berbice River Bridge.
He claimed that his decision angered former President Bharrat Jagdeo who was in power at the time and who was searching for financing for the structure.
Arjoon said he lost his substantial pension, benefits and seven years of his life because of the trumped-up charges.
Following that complaint by Arjoon in January, Justice Moore hired former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Henry Chester, who on reviewing a copy of the police’s file of those fraud charges, concluded that the men should never have been brought before the courts in the first place.
There have been praises for the Ombudsman and the report.
According to Bulkan, Moore has displayed strength of character and should be applauded for the fearlessness he has brought in discharging his mandate in keeping with the terms of the Ombudsman office.
The report, Bulkan said, “represents a most welcome breath of fresh air in what has been a most suffocating and stultifying atmosphere, one where the public felt there was no avenue to seek redress for acts of victimization, injustice or state vendetta. He has displayed professionalism, independence and integrity; qualities that sadly can be found lacking in many public offices and which are worthy of emulation.”
The Ombudsman’s office and that report are now likely to attract similar complaints from others because of the confidence and trust that Justice Moore would have sparked.
The Ombudsman has “struck a blow for integrity in public office”, the MP said.
According to Bulkan, while President Donald Ramotar must be given credit for filling the appointment of the Ombudsman, one which his predecessor, Bharrat Jagdeo failed to do, it is hoped that the administration does not now seek to undermine Moore’s office in anyway now that the “office holder has demonstrated that he will act fearlessly and in the public interest”.
“People will take hope. Only recently I was approached by a former prison officer who alleges that he was unfairly dismissed following the notorious jailbreak in 2001 which he characterized as a ‘walkout’. He could not find employment for seven years thereafter. He says he is going to lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman.”
Last week, the Ombudsman took on Minister of Labour, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, who questioned the jurisdiction of Justice Moore’s office to even take a complaint of the NBS fraud matter.
Moore in a telephone call to Gopaul, told him to “read or re-read my report and to point out where in the report I made any finding on anything done by the NBS Board.”
Justice Moore also urged Minister Gopaul to now do what is “honourable”.
Arjoon and his two managers, Kent Vincent and Kissoon Baldeo, were all charged in June 2007 for a $69M fraud at the bank.
The charges were later dismissed, but not before the three were sacked for what NBS Board of Directors said was “dereliction of duty, negligence and serious misconduct”.
The Ombudsman’s report had questioned the role of the Director of Public Prosecution and the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana in the NBS charges.
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