Jul 04, 2017 News
Magistrate Crystal Lambert is still to rule on whether six new charges reinstituted against embattled gold dealer, Saddiqi Rafeek Mohamed Rasul will be dismissed.
On April 3, Rasul appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and pleaded not guilty to six counts of obtaining money by false pretence.
It was alleged that between March 21 and March 22 last, at Bartica, with intent to defraud, he obtained the sum of $290M, $298M, $138M, $45M, $89M and $96M—all totalling $956M— from the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) by falsely pretending that he had cash in his account at Citizens Bank to honour the Citizens Bank cheques, he encashed.
Rasul, the owner of SSS Minerals Trading Enterprise, is currently out on $3M bail with instructions to report to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown.
He has also been ordered to lodge his passport with the court.
However, two weeks later police withdrew these charges against him and reinstituted six new charges all of which alleged that he obtained credit by false pretence.
It should be noted that a trial has not commenced.
Attorney-at-Law for Rasul, Sandil Kissoon, during preliminary submissions on April 21, in the Bartica Magistrate’s Court requested that the new charges be dismissed on the ground that their particulars are identical to those that were withdrawn.
According to the lawyer, the new charges contain the same date, cheque numbers and amount of money as the old charges.
Kissoon argued that based on the fact that the charges were withdrawn after his client entered not guilty pleas amounts to a dismissal. He added that reinstituting the identical charges after a withdrawal of the previous charges gives rise to a Plea In Bar which means that his client cannot be tried again.
Nevertheless, the matter continues on August 2, when Magistrate Lambert is expected to make a ruling.
Former Chief Justice acting Ian Chang who went into retirement earlier this year was granted permission by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to take over prosecution of the case against Rasul from police.
Based on reports, at a GBTI branch in Bartica, cheques were drawn on Citizens Bank and $956M was deposited to Rasul’s account. It is protocol that banks would normally place a three day hold on other bank’s cheques until they are cleared, before paying out monies.
But it seems as though this protocol was not followed by officials at GBTI.
A senior female manager at GBTI was sent home after it was discovered she was involved in authorizing the payments.
The former bank manager was subsequently questioned by police.
However, it is the lawyer’s contention that his client is being criminalized for the negligence of the bank. The lawyer is arguing that the bank paid out the cheques without verifying if there were sufficient funds in his client’s business account.
According to Attorney Kissoon, upon the receiving payments from the Guyana Gold Board his client would deposit the monies into his business account at Citizens Bank. He said that transfers are then made by his client to his personal account at GBTI on the basis of which cheques are issued.
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