Magistrate Leron Daly has recused herself from the trial in which Carvil Duncan is accused of stealing $27,757,500 from the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).
A trial in the matter was scheduled to commence yesterday in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts. However, when the matter was called Magistrate Leron Daly announced that she would step down from the high profile case due to the fact that she presided over the trial for which Duncan was charged with stealing $984,900 from GPL.
In that case, Magistrate Daly found Duncan, the former Director of GPL, not guilty as a result of insufficient prosecution evidence.
It was alleged that Duncan stole the monies on March 31, 2015 at Georgetown.
Duncan, 73, of Lot 1977 Williamstaad Road, Festival City, Georgetown will return to court today, when the matter will be called before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan for reassignment.
Duncan is out on $1M bail.
Duncan and former Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GPL Aeshwar Deonarine are accused of being part of a multi-million-dollar fraud at the company.
They are alleged to have illegally transferred almost $28M to their personal bank accounts from GPL. The government had asked the police to investigate the two senior officials last year July.
It was reported that the men paid themselves without authorization.
In light of investigations, Deonarine was sent on administrative leave.
The discoveries of the suspicious transfers were made by independent auditors who were probing the PetroCaribe Fund, which hold proceeds of oil shipments taken from neighbouring Venezuela.
It was while tracking payments to GPL that auditors unearthed the strange transactions. Deonarine, who had been responsible for administration, had reportedly wanted to receive the same level of pay as the then Deputy CEO (Technical), Colin Welch, but his approaches to the Board of Directors were rebuffed. He had reportedly offered to repay the money but GPL was supposed to have waited until it was transferred from his US bank account.
In light of the revelations, joint charges were instituted against Duncan and Deonarine last year January for the theft of $984,900 and $27,757,500, respectively from the power company.
However, Duncan was the only one present to answer to the charges since Deonarine fled the country. The Chief Magistrate had issued a warrant for his arrest.
A few months after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) withdrew the charges against Deonarine and the prosecution made a request to the court to have Deonarine’s names amended from the joint charges to proceed with the trial of Duncan.
This request was granted.
In light of the court proceeding, President David Granger ordered that Duncan be suspended from constitutional bodies. A President-appointed tribunal comprising Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire, Justice (retd.) Winston Patterson, and Attorney Robert Ramcharran, was set up to determine whether the criminal charge he is facing is enough to have him removed as Chairman of the Public Service Commission.
However, Duncan and his attorney, Anil Nandlall, moved to the High Court and had the tribunal halted by Justice Franklin Holder. This prohibits the tribunal from investigating and pronouncing on whether Duncan should remain a Member of the Public Service Commission, Judicial Service Commission and Police Service Commission.
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