Former General Manager (GM) of the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) , Nizam Hassan, and
Felecia De Souza-Madramootoo, the wife of Hanniel Madramootoo, an engineer at the Ministry of Agriculture; appeared before a City Court charged in relation to approving payments for low-graded rehabilitation works done on the GMC building at Robb and Alexander Streets, Bourda, Georgetown.
They are jointly charged with Madramootoo; his brother Phillip Madramootoo and his friend Nizam Ramkissoon both Directors of Constantine Engineering and Construction Services Limited, Trinidad and Tobago, with conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor of procuring money to be paid by false pretence with intent to defraud.
The Special Organised Crime Unit had approached Trinidad and Tobago for help with prosecuting the Trinidadians. This help has not been forthcoming.
The charges were instituted on the advice of the Director of Public prosecutions.
It is alleged that between October 28, 2010 and April 25, 2012 they conspired with each other to commit the offence by continuously approving payments which were made to the contractor of the engineering firm for works that were incompetently and incorrectly done with inferior materials to rehabilitate the GMC building at Robb and Alexander Streets, Bourda, Georgetown; knowing that such works should not have been approved.
However, Hassan, 50, of Good Hope, East Coast Demerara and De Souza-Madramootoo, 34, of Lusignan, East Coast Demerara were the only ones present for the court hearing.
They were not required to plead to the indictable charge read to them by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
They were each released on $250,000 bail and instructed to report to the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) Headquarters, Camp Street, Georgetown.
Arrest warrants have since been issued for the others.
Charges were recommended against the former GM and several other persons after SOCU completed its report into the investigations of the multi-million dollar construction of the GMC office building.
A forensic audit report submitted back in April by auditor, Saykar Boodhoo, had flagged the construction, citing several worrying things at GMC, an agency of the Ministry of Agriculture. The forensic audit report was sent to Cabinet where it was decided that the findings of the report were serious enough to warrant a deeper investigation into not only the construction of the building but also into the handling of hundreds of millions of dollars of fertilizers.
De Souza-Madramootoo was represented by Attorney Glenn Hanoman while Attorney Marcel Bobb entered an appearance on behalf of Hassan. Both lawyers told the court that their clients had fully cooperated with the investigation conducted by SOCU.
Police Prosecutor, Neville Jeffers did not oppose bail for the accused. However, Jeffers requested that reporting conditions are applied and that they lodge their passports.
The police file is still incomplete in this matter which has been adjourned until December 7.
According to Government sources, investigations found that the principals of the contracting company are close relatives of the engineer. Investigations reportedly also found that Madramootoo allegedly used a family member to conduct transactions at the Tender Board relating to the project.
Shortly after entering office last year, the administration named Hassan as the new General Manager of Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), the entity which overlooks the rice industry.
The forensic audit which triggered the recommendations for the charges would tell a worrying tale of how things were at GMC between January 1, 2012 and May 31, 2015, the time under review.
With regards to the construction of the building, in 2011 a contract was awarded to Constantine Engineering and Construction Services to build a new head office for GMC and the Guyana Shop, which it runs.
A contract in the amount of $23.96M was awarded by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB). The auditor could not review the bidding documents as NPTAB could not find any information that it was involved in the tender process even though the contract indicated otherwise.
Hanniel Madramootoo, an engineer attached to the Ministry of Agriculture was assigned to oversee the construction of the building.
The forensic audit was one of many launched by the David Granger administration last year to examine the state of affairs in state agencies and a number of projects handled by the Government of Guyana.
Yesterday’s charges would be the first major one for a senior Government functionary, coming from the audits.
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