The trial involving eight high ranking officials of the board of Directors of Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) who are before the court for failing to comply with a production order is winding down.
Yesterday, the matter continued before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
The officials charged for the offence are Chairman, Robin Stoby; and Directors, Edward A. Beharry, Suresh Beharry, Richard Isava, Carlton James and Basil Mahadeo, along with Chief Executive Officer (ag) Shaleeza Shaw and Kathryn Eytle-Mclean.
They all denied the charge which alleged that on September 7 at Georgetown, they failed to comply with production order granted by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, for them to produce certain documents to head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Sydney James. The order was made on August 29.
Testifying yesterday was Superintendant Brian Vieira, who is stationed at the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). Vieira told the court that on September 6, he was at SOCU, when a male clerk identified himself as a representative of GBTI. The representative then showed him four sealed envelopes and he signed and collected them.
After Vieira was finish testifying, Head of SOCU Sydney James was called into the courtroom to be further cross examined by defence counsel. James was grilled with a series of questions by the battery of lawyers who are representing the defendants.
The matter was then adjourned until February 21 when SOCU Prosecutor, Patrice Henry is expected to call his final witness.
SOCU, as part of a probe into US$500M that the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) handled as far back as 2010, submitted files to the DPP recommending contempt charges against GBTI’s eight directors. This was after the bank and SOCU were locked in a battle over information concerning the GRDB accounts, since February.
SOCU is contending that the bank failed or stalled and gave all kinds of excuses, and even destroyed pertinent records relating to GRDB.
SOCU reportedly argued that other banks complied, but it was finding it hard going with GBTI.
SOCU received four court orders, including one from the high court, asking that GBTI hand over the information.
In late August, the acting Chief Justice granted production orders to SOCU, giving the bank a week to hand over certain information. That deadline expired in early September, and the bank was reportedly granted some extra time. However, the deadline elapsed and SOCU prepared files recommending the charges of contempt against the directors.
Under tough anti-money laundering laws, once court orders are granted, financial institutions are reportedly bound to provide information. In this case, the moneys are not from private accounts, but rather from the US-dollar and other accounts of GBTI, a state entity.
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