The trial of former Minister Dr. Jennifer Westford and Margaret Cummings in relation to the theft of over $600M from the state continued yesterday before Magistrate Judy Latchman.
Westford and Cummings are accused of stealing $639,420,000 between August 2011 and April 2015, while being employed in the Public Service of the Government of Guyana.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charge and are currently out on $4.8M bail each.
Alan Williams, of Lamaha Park, North Ruimveldt, an accountant, at the Ministry of the Presidency resumed giving his testimony.
The witness was asked by State Prosecutor Natasha Backer to recall information on 20 memoranda he received.
Williams, however, indicated to the court that he could not remember certain details of a number of memoranda, like cheque numbers; dates the documents were issued; the amount of cash paid out; voucher numbers among other things.
This prompted Prosecutor Backer to make an application to the court to have the witness refreshed from his statements. Magistrate Latchman granted the application in spite of various objections raised by Dexter Todd, Attorney for the defendants.
Williams’s evidence revealed that a memorandum for a staggering $75M and other hefty sums were granted to carry out various activities such as award ceremonies and financial assistance for Public Servants performance evaluation.
According to Williams, the memoranda are stored in a secured place in the voucher room.
Before the memoranda were shown to him, he pointed out various means by which he would be able to identify them.
This trial was adjourned until March 2.
According to the charges, Dr Westford of Lot 55 ‘AA’ Victoria Avenue, Eccles, East Bank Demerara (EBD) was employed as Minister of Public Service from 2001-2015, while her co-accused, Cummings was the principal personnel officer of the Ministry.
Cummings of Lot 709 Section ‘A’ Diamond, EBD was also in charge of the Ministry’s accounts department.
It was discovered that on 24 occasions Dr. Westford signed documents amounting to $639,420,000 and sent them to the (then) Office of the President for approval.
Approval was granted and cheques were prepared and encashed by Bank of Guyana.
The monies were requested to carry out various activities throughout the 10 administrative regions. However, personnel from the various regions were contacted and denied ever receiving the cash. Investigations were carried out but the monies were never recovered.
Dr. Westford and Cummings have a pending matter in another court where it is alleged that they forged documents for eight state vehicles and attempted to transfer them to other persons.
This matter is scheduled to be called again on March 31.
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