Nov 03, 2016 News
Faulty prosecution in the case for which Carvil Duncan was charged with the theft of $984,900 from the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), resulted in the matter being dismissed yesterday by Magistrate Leron Daly in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
Magistrate Daly, after upholding a no-case submission by Duncan’s former attorney Charles Ramson Jr., and present attorney Glenn Hanoman, ruled that there was not satisfactory evidence to convict Duncan of the offence.
The Prosecution was led by Police Corporal Bharat Mangru, who had called Former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds; Lorraine Bancroft, Corporate Secretary to the GPL Board of Directors; Mahender Sharma, Head of the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) and Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Kedarnauth Bejaimal among others to testify.
During her ruling, Magistrate Daly told the court that she placed no weight on the evidence given by the former Prime Minister, deeming it “hearsay”. She also attached no weight to a copy of a Cabinet decision tendered during the trial, because it was not the original copy of the document.
Attorney Charles Ramson Jr. during a no-case submission had requested for the charge to be thrown out deeming it “misconceived.”
According to Ramson, the prosecution’s case relied on the pursuance of the by-laws of GPL, and whether Duncan received authorization from the shareholders of GPL to pay himself. In his submission, Ramson said that his client was charged with Simple Larceny, Contrary to Section 164 of the Criminal Law Offences Act Chapter 8:01.
Under this Section of the Constitution, Ramson asserted that his client cannot be charged with stealing monies by way of cheque, as stated in the facts of the prosecution’s case.
The monies were allegedly stolen on May 31, last year.
He said that Duncan was an authorized signatory for GPL’s Republic Bank Account.
Ramson said that once money is deposited in a bank it is no longer the property of the customer (whether depositor or account holder), but property of the bank.
“As soon as money is deposited in a customer’s account, the money becomes the property of the bank and not the customer. If money is loaned to a person and delivered to a person, the money belongs to the borrower as a debtor and not the lender as a creditor.”
The lawyer argued that the evidence in the case cannot and does not show that any money was stolen from GPL, since based on the prosecution’s evidence, the account of GPL, held at Republic Bank, was debited to pay Duncan, who was merely a creditor to the account. He added that the power company had merely a chosen action in relation to monies held in its account with the Bank, and did not have any ownership or possession of the monies.
Ramson explained, “What transpired in this case is that the bank paid money on a cheque on GPL’s account held at Republic Bank on the basis of the authorized signatories of GPL. The prosecution has not seen it fit to charge the defendant (Carvil Duncan) with an offence of stealing the bank’s property (money) since the defendant was a duly authorized signatory to the GPL’s account held at the bank”.
Duncan was instructed to return to court on January 4, 2017, in relation to a charge where he is accused of conspiring with another to steal $27,757,547, belonging to GPL between May 7 and 8, 2015.
It was reported that Duncan and a former senior GPL official Aeshwar Deonarine were part of a multimillion-dollar fraud at GPL. The men are alleged to have illegally transferred close to $28M to their personal bank accounts from GPL.
The Government had asked the police to investigate Duncan and Deonarine last July. It was reported that the men paid themselves without authorization.
The discoveries of the suspicious transfers were made by independent auditors who were probing an account which hold proceeds of oil shipments taken from Venezuela. It was while tracking payments to GPL that auditors unearthed the strange transactions.
That former senior official had reportedly offered to repay the money, but GPL was supposed to have waited until it was transferred from his US bank account.
He has pending charges for two counts of simple larceny for the sum of $984,900 and $27,757,547 respectively.
Police issued an arrest warrant for Deonarine after he fled the country.
These matters are expected to be called next January.
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