The move to bring those responsible for financial transgressions discovered by audits is being slowed
by fearful witnesses.
This was revealed yesterday by Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, who was asked about the apparent lack of prosecutions and sloth in prosecuting errant public officials.
Addressing stakeholders at the Golden Jubilee, National Symposia Series, underway at the Arthur Chung International Convention Centre (ACICC), Minister Ramjattan made it clear that Government is keen on bringing those responsible for impropriety to justice wherever they may be.
“Minister (Jennifer) Westford has been charged and that’s pending. The trial is going on as I understand. There is somebody with her who has been charged. The fellow from GPL, Aeshwar Deonarine, has been charged and Mr. Carvil Duncan has been charged…Prosecution is going on there. We have asked the Canadian Royal Mounted Police to find Mr. Aeshwar Deonarine (former Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) of Administration), they are going to find him soon and that he is going to be sent back here. “
Minister Ramjattan stated that there are “Lots of other forensic audits that indicate they should go further on… into police investigations,” but the lack of a witness protection programme is stymieing the prosecution’s efforts.
“A lot of the witnesses that gave their evidence to the auditors are scared like hell to give their evidence to the police now, knowing that those fellows that they might bring to court know that they can suffer at their hands.”
The Minister lamented that a witness protection plan was not available locally. “So they are scared.”
The Minister pointed out that he was not going to push persons to testify and “When they go the Magistrate’s Court, they say, I can’t remember,” so you compel them to take the stand and there is nothing you can do”.
He indicated, however, that Government is trying to see how best this hurdle can be overcome. He reiterated that while the cases are continuing to be pursued, these actions take time.
He made clear Government’s position on the audits.
“This administration will never allow stolen monies to remain with those who have stolen those monies. We are going to get them back, and that is why we have set up this SARU (State Assets Recovery Unit)”.
Government has embarked on a series of audits of ministries and agencies to ascertain their financial status and unearth any suspected improprieties.
A number of officials including at the Guyana Oil Company; the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and at the Guyana Water Inc. have been sent home with their contracts terminated or not renewed.
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