Jan 27, 2016 News
– arrest warrant issued for Deonarine
Two former Guyana Power and Light (GPL) senior officials were yesterday accused of being part of a multi-million-dollar fraud at the power company.
The men are alleged to have illegally transferred close to $30M to their personal bank accounts from the PetroCaribe Funds.
Former Director of the company Carvil Duncan, 73, of Festival City, North Ruimveldt, Georgetown, and former Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) of Administration, Aeshwar Deonarine, were slapped with charges of conspiracy and simple larceny. The charges were read by Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan, in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
However, Duncan was the only one present in court. Deonarine had left for Canada on August 3, last year, shortly after the matter went public. A warrant has been issued for Deonarine’s arrest, and Crime Chief Wendell Banhum said yesterday that police will contact the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) with a view of having him brought back to Guyana.
Duncan, who is the President of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) and General Secretary of the Guyana Labour Union (GTU), is accused of conspiring with Deonarine on May 7 and 8 at Georgetown, to steal $27,757,500, property of GPL.
He is also accused of stealing $984,900 from GPL after conspiring with Deonarine on March 31, 2015 at Georgetown.
The former Director pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was released on $1M bail.
Attorney Charles Ramson Jr. represented Duncan.
On Monday when the police invited Duncan to Eve Leary he was offered a deal to repay the money. He said that he wanted it in writing that once he repaid the money he would not be prosecuted. The charge followed when he actually refused to make restitution.
During a bail application, the lawyer told the court that his client is a man of credible character and the court should have no difficulty considering bail for him. Ramson said that Duncan has no pending matters or previous convictions.
Police Corporal, Deniro Jones, presented the prosecution’s case. He had no objections to the defendant being granted pre-trial liberty. The prosecutor pointed out that Deonarine left the country since August 3, 2015 for Canada.
The Government had asked the police to investigate the two senior officials last July. It was reported that the men paid themselves almost $29M without authorization.
In light of the nature of investigations, Deonarine was sent on administrative leave.
The discoveries of the suspicious transfers were made by independent auditors who were probing the PetroCaribe Fund, which holds proceeds of oil shipments taken from neighbouring Venezuela.
It was while tracking payments to GPL that auditors unearthed the abnormal transactions. Deonarine, who had been the DCEO responsible for administration had reportedly wanted to receive the same level of pay as the then DCEO (Technical), Colin Welch, but his approaches to the Board of Directors were rebuffed.
It was then reportedly that the decision was taken to transfer the monies.
Deonarine had reportedly offered to repay the money from his overseas accounts.
GPL, which manages the country’s power supply to especially coastland areas, has been under scrutiny over its spending and management of a number of multi-billion-dollar projects. There are lingering questions over a number of contracts, including one for prepaid meters.
The charges against Duncan and Deonarine would follow those of ex-Minister Jennifer Westford who was charged for allegedly transferring a number of state vehicles.
That matter is still before the courts.
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