Dec 25, 2015 News
By Mondale Smith
“Once the police do their investigative work properly we believe that other senior persons in the previous administration will end up being charged,” assures Minister of State Joseph Harmon.
Yesterday, the Minister of State said that so far the investigations have been done and the findings have now been handed over to the law enforcement agencies.
“We expect that once the work is done in a very careful way, further charges will be laid.”
Harmon however said that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is an independent office and it is necessary for scrutiny to be exercised by the political administration. However it is up to that office to make known the findings in a timely manner.
“There is only so much that can be done by Government and the police. It is up to the DPP to recommend that charges be instituted. In civil cases such matters are taken to the court without an input from the DPP.”
Harmon said that in the case of former Minister Jennifer Westford, several other cases were submitted to the DPP (Shalimar Ali-Hack) who then asked for additional information. He said that as far as he is aware, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum has sent all the information requested to the DPP. Now Government is awaiting the DPP’s final action where that is concerned.
Addressing the public outcry that nothing is happening after exposures of past misgivings of top previous government officials other than talk, Harmon begs to differ.
“One former minister has been charged and is before the court, and there are also some other charges which have been sent to the DPP. We expect that once the DPP would have completed her work that further charges might be instituted based on those matters.
We have just sent files to the police in relation to transactions involving NICIL and we believe that once the police do their work it will result in charges, not just those currently implicated, but also other senior persons in the previous administration.
The investigations are being done and are now being handed over to the different agencies.
“We have to wait on the DPP and her office to decide what is to be done, we cannot tell the DPP what is to be done, because that is going to be interfering with another arm of the government. We are the executive and therefore we cannot tell the judiciary what is to be done.
“But we expect that in the fullness of time that once all of the information becomes available, all further charges will be instituted against persons who have committed wrong doing.”
On the NICIL issue, when asked if he foresees any charges being laid against Winston Brassington, the embattled head of NICIL, who has been sent on leave to facilitate an audit, Harmon said: “there are recommendations by the consultant in that regard, but the police will have to look at certain things, as there are certain elements of an offence which they have to satisfy themselves are present before they actually take the matter to court.”
He said, too, that it’s for the Police to now determine if the evidence in the information disclosed can really withstand the test of the courts and make a decision.
Last Tuesday, Cabinet decided on action pending the NICIL report prepared by former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran. Government has made public that the findings of Goolsarran along with his notes, including statements that he has taken as well as interviews done with persons from within the system, should all be handed to the police for further investigation.
“According to the consultant’s report, several laws have been breached not only by Mr. (Winston) Brassington but also by other persons in the previous administration. Therefore we are expecting the police to act aggressively on those things.
“The ball is in the police’s court to follow up on what has been revealed. “
The files will also be sent to the Auditor General whose mandate it is to do more in-depth forensic types of audits, which could actually also be taken to the National Assembly for further action to be taken against public officials.
On the subject of Khurshid Sattaur being sent on 200 days’ leave from the Guyana Revenue Authority to facilitate an international audit, Harmon said that based on the findings of the audit, Government will be advised on what course of action would be taken.
“We expect that the audit would be completed before his leave ends and at least the preliminary audit report would be handed to government. There must be some reason why the board has taken the decision to send Mr. Sattaur on leave.”
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