Apr 01, 2016 News
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
If the new government continues at this pace, Maurice Arjoon will have to wait another seven years before
he can be compensated for the pain he suffered at the hands of a plot hatched under the PPP government.
Arjoon claimed he was punished for his refusal to follow the instructions of former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Despite an Ombudsman report that suggested compensation, Arjoon remains in the cold. His fate now lies in the hands of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who says he is still looking to “see what can be done”.
Almost nine years ago, three senior officials of New Building Society (NBS), ended up in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, charged with fraud. One of the three managers was Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Maurice Arjoon. He was on the verge of retiring when the charges came and he was dismissed from NBS, losing his pension and other benefits.
The court cases were dropped after the main witnesses stopped attending court. However, the stain on the men’s lives and that of their families remained. They have been fighting for years to clear their names and to receive their benefits.
In 2014, Arjoon filed a complaint with Ombudsman, Justice Winston Moore. His report cleared the men. It concluded that police wrongfully charged the former CEO and two of his managers for fraud.
The report said that the men suffered grave injustice and should be compensated for losing seven years of their lives. However, since that report, little has happened to give the men justice.
In keeping with the laws of Guyana, the report was sent to the National Assembly in November 2014, but was not tabled until July 2015, under the new Government. It is yet to come up for debate or handling.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said that he is still looking for a way out for Arjoon. Nagamootoo said that he has been looking at the Ombudsman report but “cannot make a conclusion.” He said that the report is not clear on what should be done or “if the parliament should do something. I am looking for verification.”
At the same time, Nagamootoo claimed that he has seen a draft of a motion to be laid in the National Assembly to speak to the matter. He didn’t give details about the resolve of the motion but said, “I had asked a back bencher to table a motion to bring to Parliament…but we are still looking for verification.”
This stance has been highly criticized by former Auditor General and anti–corruption advocate, Anand Goolsarran. He said that sort of laid back attitude just cannot be accepted.
Goolsarran said that if the Prime Minister indeed thinks he lacks direction then the logical approach would be to call the Ombudsman and seek such guidance.
“What sort of laid back approach is that? I do recall that he spoke passionately about the Maurice Arjoon case and stamping out character assassination. What is that passion being translated to now? We need to see meaningful action,” said Goolsarran.
Arjoon had told Kaieteur News that on October 1, 2015, he wrote President David Granger explaining how he was denied justice. He said that he asked for the report to be addressed in parliament. He called for compensation and “prosecution of the perpetrators of this criminal act.”
The letter to the President was copied to Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo and other ministers.
President Granger replied to Arjoon indicating that he had sent the matter to Prime Minister Nagamootoo, who is the Leader of the House, for his consideration.
Subsequent to the President’s response, the Prime Minister in a Facebook post promised that as “Leader of Government Business in the House, I am taking steps for a debate on the findings of the Ombudsman.”
Arjoon claimed that he was framed after he refused to illegally endorse the lending of $2B, in 2006.
Arjoon’s decision to only lend $350M in keeping with Guyana’s financial laws apparently angered former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, who allegedly threatened to deal with the CEO.
The Ombudsman’s report also questioned the role that other officials played in the investigations.
Arjoon said in 2014: “The persons who conspired to get us charged took away seven and half years and continuing of our lives and that of our families. We have suffered immensely. Their actions can be considered evil and criminal…”
He had asked then for those involved in his “frame-up” to be “relieved of their positions, investigated and be dealt with according to law”.
“I will never forgive or forget their evil faces. Through their evil actions, the lives of a few men and their families were taken away and their reputations hurt. Justice has to be served.”
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