Mar 20, 2016 News
…man fined less than quarter of what he stole
The current sentencing policy employed by some Magistrates has led a local businessman to conclude that stealing in Guyana is a profitable venture.
This was after his former employee was fined $100,000 by a city Magistrate for embezzling $500,000. In the process he made a profit of $400,000.
The livid businessman is Frank Sanichara, Chief Executive Officer of Sueria Manufacturing Company. The convict is former employee, Kevin Waaldijk.
And to add insult to injury, Waaldijk took to the social media to boast about his freedom leaving Sanichara to lament his loss.
“It is profitable to steal in Guyana; if you talk to any 10 businessmen, they will tell you that embezzlement has become a crisis, and the court is not doing us any favour,” Sanichara told Kaieteur News.
Waaldijk, who was employed as a salesman by Sanichara’s company, was arrested last August after he was accused of embezzling the funds he was entrusted with.
After a trial that lasted almost eight months, he was found guilty by Magistrate Fabayo Azore in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court on Friday last.
But instead of imposing a mandatory prison sentence, the Magistrate ordered Waaldijk to pay a fine of $100,000, much to the businessman’s surprise.
The penalty also shocked the police ranks who had worked on the case.
In court, Waaldijk smiled and cast a mocking glance at Sanichara when he heard the verdict.
The fine was quickly paid from the $150,000 bail that Waaldijk had posted.
An obviously disappointed Sanichara told Kaieteur News that while he is not too familiar with the sentencing guidelines for such offences, he is certain that justice was not served.
“My staff and the two police officers went to court back and forth several times and this is the outcome,” the businessman declared.
No mention was even made of restitution of the stolen cash by the convict.
“The fine that he paid goes to the state; I lost $500,000 and I get nothing; so where’s the justice?” Sanichara asked. “This man made a profit!” he added.
He said that he now sees why a number of businessmen have very little faith in the court system of this country.
“They wasted the court’s time, the police time also,” the businessman stated.
Recently the magistracy has been coming under much scrutiny over what some described as “outrageous” sentencing.
Magistrates have been chided for imposing mandatory prison sentences for persons who commit “minor offences” such as possession of smoking utensils, while giving a slap on the wrist to persons who are convicted of indictable offences such as drug trafficking.
Two years ago, a Magistrate imposed a suspended sentence on a man who was found guilty of trafficking in over 50 kilograms of cocaine.
But the lack of application of a strict sentencing guideline might all come to an end soon as the government and the Judiciary have agreed to work towards a solution.
“During the frank and cordial exchange of views, both sides recognise the need for a review of sentencing guidelines, the reform of laws to allow the exercise by Magistrates of greater discretion in imposing sentences, including for drug-related offences…,” a recent statement from the office of the Prime Minister stated.
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