Ombudsman Winston Moore recently admitted that in light of the harsh criticisms his special report on a
multimillion dollar fraud charge against former CEO of the New Building Society and his two managers, received, he may approach certain high profile cases, differently.
He emphasized however, that while his approach in the future will be different, he will “continue to be fearless and independent” in his pronouncements.
The Ombudsman hosted a press conference at the Cara Lodge Hotel on Friday to correct a number of criticisms and misconceptions that had been peddled in the media after his report was leaked to the press.
Justice Moore said that what he found most baffling was the fact that the very persons, who made certain criticisms about the report, such as Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon and Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Ali-Hack, never made any objections when he updated and made contact with them during the preparation of the document.
The Ombudsman said that some of the comments which were reported in the media in relation to published excerpts of his report were as a result of persons not thoroughly reading the document.
The report by the Ombudsman concluded that police wrongfully charged the former NBS boss, Maurice Arjoon, and two of his managers over a massive $69M fraud at the New Building Society, in 2006.
The report, which was released this month, was based on complaints by Arjoon on January 16 last, which claimed that he was framed after he refused to illegally endorse the lending of $2B for an investment into the Berbice River Bridge in 2006.
Arjoon’s said that his decision to only lend $350M in keeping with the country’s financial laws angered former President Bharrat Jagdeo, who allegedly threatened via Nanda Gopaul, to “deal with the CEO.”
That allegation which formed a headline in Kaieteur News was described as “extremely unfair.” The headline screamed, “Explosive Ombudsman report…Jagdeo ordered dismissal of NBS boss…because he refused to lend US$10M for Berbice Bridge.”
“I saw the headline referring to the former President firing someone over the Berbice River Bridge and I thought that it was unfair because when you read the report it is what Mr. Arjoon is alleging.
“In my opinion it was an extremely unfair headline.”
The Ombudsman said that it gave the impression that Arjoon’s allegation was his finding. Media houses should strive to maintain respect for the principles of journalism, he added.
Fraud charges were laid against the former CEO who served the company for over 30 years along with his two senior managers, Kent Vincent and Kissoon Baldeo.
While there isn’t any other high profile case of this nature before the Ombudsman, Moore said that in hindsight, he will take a different approach. He told journalists that he did not leak the report to the press. He added that he does not know how the media got a hold of it and that that is not of concern to him. The Ombudsman said that he only sent it to a few persons for their comments.
Justice Moore said that what he probably failed to do was to label the document, “For your eyes only.” In future, he said that he will ensure this is done.
The Ombudsman also stated that while he holds this position, it must not be misconstrued to mean that he will not continue to be fearless in his work.
“I am not pleased with the manner in which this report was dealt with but I will continue to treat and report on all matters fearlessly and independently, otherwise I will do something else.
“The moment I get the feeling that I can’t do my job in that manner I will back down. There are other things I can do. I took an oath before I embarked on my duties and I will be faithful to that oath.”
The life of a single human is what is important and that there can be many domino effects from a wrongdoing against one person.
Justice Moore also informed that he will lay all special reports, such as the NBS report, in Parliament.
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