Come April 18, PPP Parliamentarian and former Public Service Minister Dr. Jennifer Westford and her former personal assistant, Margaret Cummings, will go on trial in relation to charges they are facing for alleged attempted larceny and forgery of documents for the purchase of eight state vehicles.
This date was set by City Magistrate Fabayo Azore when the matter was called up in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts yesterday. Police Corporal, Bharrat Mangru indicated that a total of 17 witnesses will testify on behalf of the prosecution.
Last August, the former minister was placed on a total of $800,000 bail after she pleaded not guilty to the charges. The charges alleged that between July 17, 2014 and June 23, 2015, she attempted to transfer eight state vehicles to four persons.
Westford’s former Chief Personnel Officer, Margaret Cummings was also slapped with four counts of forgery. Cummings also pleaded not guilty to four charges which alleged that she forged documents for the purchase of the eight motor vehicles. She has been released on a total of $1.2M bail.
In June 2015, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, had told the media that it was brought to his attention that some documents were sent to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), purportedly signed by Permanent Secretary of the Public Service Ministry, Hydar Ally.
This was done under Ally’s letterhead, but signed by someone else. “He had no knowledge of this transaction,” Minister Harmon had stressed.
It was Ally who directed Harmon to the discrepancy in the paperwork forwarded to GRA for the transfer of eight vehicles. In light of the overwhelming evidence, the vehicles were returned to the government.
Just last month, Westford and Cummings were each released on $4.8M bail after denying a total of 24 charges which alleged that they stole over $639M, while being employed in the Public Service.
According to court facts, Westford was employed as Minister of Public Service from 2001-2015, while her co-accused was the principal personnel officer of the Ministry. Cummings was also in charge of the Ministry’s accounts department. It was discovered that on 24 occasions, Westford signed a memorandum amounting to $639,420,000 and sent it to the Office of the President for approval. Approval was granted and cheques were prepared and encashed by Bank of Guyana.
It was revealed that the monies were requested to carry out various activities throughout the 10 administrative regions. But personnel from the various regions were contacted and denied ever receiving the cash. Investigations were carried out and no money was recovered.
Westford of Lot 55 ‘AA’ Victoria Avenue Eccles, East Bank Demerara (EBD) and Cummings, a mother of three, of 709 Section ‘A’ Diamond EBD are being represented by a team of attorneys; Rexford McKay SC and Attorneys Neil Boston, Keisha Chase, Eusi Anderson, Bibi Shaddick, Brandon Glasford and Dexter Todd.
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