Apr 27, 2017 News
An appeal has been filed in the Court of Appeal to overturn a High Court ruling that the seizure of 19.12 ounces of gold from businessman, Richard Ramjit, by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) was constitutional and well within the law.
Ramjit, a businessman, was held at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport with $3M worth of jewellery.
The gold was seized and he was subject to investigation by SOCU. He, therefore, filed the action in the High Court.
In the appeal, Ramjit’s lawyer, Attorney Anil Nandlall, expressed the view that the Judge erred and misdirected herself in law when she found that the Applicant’s jewellery worn on his person, raised reasonable suspicion that he violated the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act.
According to Nandlall, the Judge also misdirected herself in law when she found that there were conflicts in the affidavit evidence but refused and/or failed to take any step to reconcile or address these conflicts.
He claims that the Judge erred and misdirected herself in law where she omitted to attach sufficient or any weight at all to significant pieces of evidence provided by the Applicant in his affidavit that were virtually uncontradicted; the Judge erred and misdirected herself in law where she omitted and/or refused to address the issue that the Applicant’s jewelry could only have been lawfully detained in these circumstances pending an investigation or, under an Order of Court, and that from all indication, that investigation was completed and the Order of Court had expired.
According to the document, Nandlall says further the decision of the Judge is misconceived, erroneous and wrong in law; The decision of the Learned Trial Judge is against the weight of the evidence,” he added.
As such, the attorney wants the decision of the Judge to be reversed, set aside, vacated or varied.
The matter dates back to January 19, 2016, when Ramjit, a Better Hope, East Coast Demerara businessman was held at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport with $3M worth of jewellery.
According to the facts of the case, Ramjit was an outgoing passenger on the Dynamic Airways Flight #2D402 for New York, United States of America when he was searched by ranks of SOCU who found the gold valued at $3,943,360 in his possession. The businessman failed to declare the gold on his immigration departure card.
The precious metal was seized and detained by the Unit to facilitate an investigation. He was then charged. The gold was used as evidence by the prosecution and remains in the possession of SOCU.
Based on records at the Guyana Gold Board, the East Coast businessman was not a licensed gold dealer of the GGB and therefore was not legally permitted to export gold.
The matter was filed last year. During the trial, Ramjit, who was represented by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Attorney Rajendra Jaigobin, filed a constitutional motion saying that the seizure of the gold was unlawful and contravened his fundamental right under Article 142 of Guyana’s Constitution.
Further, the defence contended that Ramjit’s arrest and detention at the CJIA which caused him to miss his flight was unlawful and contrary to the man’s right to leave Guyana which is guaranteed under Article 148 of the Constitution.
Ramjit’s lawyers argued that SOCU’s failure to arrest and detain other passengers as they did their client, contravened Article 149 of the Constitution since other passengers were wearing similar and larger quantity of jewellery. It was argued that this was discriminatory treatment.
Moreover, the businessman sued for damages in excess of $10M for breach of the applicant’s fundamental rights and freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of Guyana.
However, despite these arguments, Justice Dawn Gregory last week, ruled that the seizure was in compliance with Article 142 of the Constitution and in accordance with Section 37 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act Cap 10:11.
The state was represented by Senior Legal Adviser Leslyn Noble, State Counsel, Joan Edghill-Stuart and Tracy Marks.
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