-former top Finance Ministry official detained also
A fugitive suspect who skipped Guyana one day before a wanted bulletin was issued for his arrest was yesterday charged for entering Guyana illegally.
Jadoo Datt, 40, of Sheriff Street, Campbellville was wanted for questioning by Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) in relation to collecting millions of dollars by way of withdrawals from the Lotto Fund.
Datt appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and pleaded guilty to the charge which stated that on July 4, at Springlands, Corentyne, Berbice, he entered Guyana by sea and disembarked without the consent of an immigration officer.
In his explanation, he stated that he went into the US Embassy to get a visa and he was denied. He added that after his refusal of a visa, he contacted his sister and she told him to come across to Suriname.
Police Prosecutor, Gordon Mansfield, stated that a wanted bulletin was issued by SOCU on May 16 for his arrest after months of intense investigation in relation to the lottery fund fraud.
The court heard that the police later obtained information from Immigration, which stated that the defendant left Guyana on May 15 via Moleson Creek.
The prosecutor went on to tell the court that on July 4, last, Datt, reported to SOCU and he was arrested and taken into custody.
The Magistrate after listening to Datt, reprimanded and discharged the matter.
As soon as Datt exited the prisoners lock-up, he was arrested by an officer who escorted him to a vehicle and took him back to SOCU.
It was reported that SOCU is currently investigating some questionable payments from the Lotto Fund, which was established under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, and controlled by what was then known as the Office of the President.
The fund continues to be under the control of what has now been renamed the Ministry of the Presidency.
Under the arrangements, the fund was to be used for specific purposes. However, a forensic audit raised questions about spending under the PPP/C.
Monies expended were supposed to fund health and other emergencies.
Datt reportedly signed for cheques, to the tune of millions of dollars. Investigators from SOCU reportedly have no idea why Datt collected those cheques and that is why he is being questioned.
According to information, the request for the wanted bulletin had been with police for about a week before it was issued to the media.
It is believed that during the “delay”, Datt may have been tipped off about the bulletin and fled.
Datt is being question is in relation to a number of conspiracies to defraud the Governmant of Guyana, between the period December 2015 and April 2016.
He is said to be one of several persons who signed to collect payments issued by the Lottery Control Commission, which has responsibilities for the Lotto Fund. Those cheques were to the tune of millions of dollars.
Under the agreement between the Government of Guyana and Canadian Bank Note, which is the parent company of the Guyana Lottery Company, this country gets 24 percent of gross revenues from the lottery.
However, over the years, the administration of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has been accused of keeping the monies under its control at the Office of the President, instead of turning it over to the Public Treasury.
It is believed that the fund had hundreds of millions of dollars in it from the Lottery Company.
In fact, the new administration has spent monies from it, including $300M in 2015 on the D’Urban Park.
The Auditor General had reported that between 1996 and 2011, the Government of Guyana received over $4B from the Guyana Lottery Company. The monies were to be used for sports, education and health.
With regards to the SOCU investigations, it was reported that in 2015 the Coalition Government ordered forensic audits into several state entities.
The Lotto Fund was also audited.
It is the findings of the audit that concerned the Ministry of Finance, which handed the report over to the police to be investigated.
Meanwhile, a former senior Ministry of Finance official questioned last year, was yesterday arrested again by investigators of SOCU.
Being questioned yesterday was Vladim Persaud, the former Assistant Accountant General. He was reportedly performing the duties of Deputy Accountant General when ranks of SOCU picked him up last year at his Main Street office.
He is said to have intense knowledge of the workings of the Lotto Fund.
Persaud’s contract expired and was not renewed by the Government of Guyana.
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