Jan 15, 2016 News
Confusion seems to be the order of the day as it relates to the investigation involving former Public Service Minister Jennifer Westford and her assistant Margaret Cummings.
The 24 police files compiled on the matter are getting no rest – moving back and forth from the police to the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
From all indications, the police seem unaware of what they are supposed to do.
Yesterday, the DPP had cause to clarify the Chambers’ position on the matter, claiming that the file has been sent back to the police yet again with specific instructions.
“The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions wishes to state that the 24 police files captioned: “Alleged Larceny by Public Officer Committed on the Public Service Ministry By Dr. Jennifer Westford and Margaret Cummings” were received from the Guyana Police Force on the 9th, 23rd, 28th and 30th December, 2015.
These 24 files have been returned to the GPF (Guyana Police Force) today (Thursday 14th January), with legal advice given to the police for them to complete their investigations.”
The DPP’s Office noted that this is the third occasion that the 24 files are being returned to the GPF, with specific instructions for them to comply with previous legal advice given, pertaining to the clarification of issues and the conduct of further investigations.
When asked about this situation yesterday, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum told reporters, “I intend to go through those files. I also had a discussion with the DPP recently pertaining to the return of those files. I will be able to update you some time later on some of the things that she would have highlighted.”
The matter has to do with $500M-plus in state funds that were discovered missing shortly after the May 11 General Elections which saw a change in Government.
Former Minister Westford, and her assistant, Margaret Cummings, were both questioned in the matter.
In September, police investigators wrapped up the matter and sent the 24 files to the DPP for the first time for advice on the way forward. However, the DPP wanted more clarity and details on a number of issues and returned the files to the police.
Since then the files have moved back and forth between the DPP and the police on two more occasions.
The matter started in July last year, two months after the People’s Progressive Party was ousted from office. Back then, the new Ministry of the Presidency filed an official complaint to the police in late July after finding more than $120M missing from the bank accounts of the Ministry. However, investigators eventually stumbled on $400M more missing from the bank accounts.
The police, to whom the matter had been handed over, had dispatched a special team to the Ministry of the Presidency to examine records of the payments.
Several staffers as well, as Dr. Westford and her assistant, were questioned during the probe.
Investigators had initially looked at 2014 transactions at the Ministry, but went back to 2012. The monies were transferred from the Office of the President and were to be used for training workers in the various Regions. However, there was no evidence that the Regions were in receipt of any money.
Dr. Westford and Ms. Cummings, were questioned by police and released on bail.
Police sleuths would have wanted to know what role, if any, the two played in the withdrawals.
Both of the women appeared in court in July, charged with the illegal transfer of eight vehicles belonging to the state. They were placed on a total of $2M in bail.
Several persons from the Public Service Ministry who were involved in preparing documents for payments have been questioned.
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