– Dr. David Hinds
A recently released report by the Ombudsman, Justice Winston Moore, has raised shocking questions about the role played by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the 2006 multi-million New Building Society (NBS) fraud investigation.
According to a much-publicized report of Ombudsman, Justice Winston Moore, the DPP, Shalimar Ali-Hack, sat at a meeting with her husband, Sheik Moeen Ul-Hack, at the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG), on January 20, 2007, at which the fraud was discussed with a senior official of NBS.
The DPP, a few months later, then went ahead and advised that fraud charges be laid against three senior staffers – Chief Executive Officer, Maurice Arjoon and his two managers, Kent Vincent and Kissoon Baldeo.
Ombudsman, Justice Winston Moore, following a complaint by Arjoon filed last January that he was maliciously charged and prosecuted, concluded that the three men suffered grave injustice, losing seven years of their working lives and should never have been charged in the first place.
The men, and other staffers, were fired by NBS. Arjoon has since filed civil court actions against NBS claiming compensation and his benefits.
Former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Henry Chester, DSM, who was hired by Moore to review the police file on the fraud, raised troubling questions about the role of the DPP in the matter.
Chester said that police reports on the fraud indicated that Nizam Mohamed, the NBS Assistant Secretary in 2007, participated in that meeting on January 20, 2007 at CIOG headquarters.
In addition to the DPP and her husband, also there was Zainool Khan Safi. It was Safi who reportedly complained to the CIOG that his wife’s account at NBS had suffered a massive fraud in 2006.
Chester questioned the role of the CIOG and its then head, Sheik Ul-Hack, in the police investigations. There was no statement in the police file from him.
Chester also questioned the seemingly close scrutiny that the DPP was playing in the investigations.
He asked: “Why was the DPP giving short dates for the police to respond to her advice?”
He also specifically asked, “What role did the DPP play in the meeting which took place at the CIOG on Saturday 20, January, 2007”.
The presence of the DPP at the meeting has also sparked significant debate from letter writers and commentators alike who are insisting that the situation spoke of a conflict of interest, especially as it is now revealed that the managers have been cleared.
Political activist, Dr. David Hinds, believed that the DPP compromised the integrity of her office just by sitting in on a meeting of that Muslim organization and then later advising police to charge the NBS Managers.
Dr. Hinds insisted that DPP Shalimar Ali-Hack should have recused herself the minute the case came before her. In failing to do so, he said that the DPP has essentially compromised the integrity of her office.
He emphasized that officials such as magistrates, judges and the DPP should always strive to ensure that they are not placed into positions which would result in a clash of interests.
They should immediately excuse themselves from such instances, to protect the honour of their office.
Dr. Hinds remarked as well that institutions, in showing impartiality lend to upholding the democratic principles of any nation.
The professor said, too, that over the past 20 years, Guyana has witnessed the further erosion of confidence in certain offices.
He emphasized again that the Ombudsman’s report reveals how compromised the integrity of the DPP’s office is.
Hinds said that the office of the DPP is very important especially in a political system that is continuously affected by certain irritants. He said, too, that the judicial system is important to the functioning of a democratic society.
Dr. Hinds also criticized the inaction by the DPP following the police report that they sent a file to her office on the damning threats against the staff and Publisher of Kaieteur News by Attorney General Anil Nandlall.
It has been over a month since the file is said to have been with the DPP and it continues to languish in her office.
The political activist said that in any democratic state such a matter involving public security with regard to a national newspaper should have been dealt with expeditiously.
He said that the unsatisfactory action by the DPP on the matter leaves much to be desired.
More importantly, he said that the delay could suggest that “she (Ali-Hack) is not in charge.”
Hinds is not the only one. A letter writer, Cecil Thomas, last week called on the DPP’s husband to explain why the NBS fraud was discussed at the CIOG and why his wife, the DPP, was present.
If he refuses to answer, Thomas suggested that the current CIOG President, Mr. Fazeel Ferouz, should then provide a comment.
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