Lawyers representing Attorney-at-law Anil Nandlall, who is accused of stealing some $2 M in Commonwealth Law Reports, are contending that the items were never purchased by the Ministry of Legal Affairs—the State entity from which Nandall is alleged to have stole them from.
They also say that the charge instituted against him is “unknown to law.”
During a lengthy no-case submission, Senior Counsel Neil Boston and Attorney-at-law Glen Hanoman argued that at the close of the prosecution’s case, there was “absolutely no evidence” that the Ministry of Legal Affairs ever purchased, ordered, or had an account with Lexis-Nexis in relation to Commonwealth Law Reports.
In fact, the lawyers have argued that the charge, Larceny by Bailee, which was instituted against Nandlall contrary to Section 165 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act Chapter 8:01 is defective.
According to the legal minds, “Section 165 does not create any office known as larceny by bailee. It just makes a person being a bailee who fraudulently takes and converts subject matter of the bailment guilty of larceny.”
Particulars of the offence state that Nandall allegedly committed the act between May 18, 2015 and May 29, 2015, being a bailee in the then capacity of Attorney General and Minster of Legal Affairs, he fraudulently converted 14 Commonwealth Law Reports valued at $2,313,853, property of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, to his own use and benefit.
Nandlall has pleaded not guilty to the allegation and is out on self bail.
The lawyers for the former Attorney General are also contending that the facts as averred in the charge do not disclose the commission of an offence known to law. It is their argument that the offence ‘larceny by bailee’ is an unknown offence to law.
According to them, “The common law (codified statute) created the offence of Simple Larceny (not larceny by bailee) and this is why the offence of Simple Larceny is charged as being contrary to Section 164 of the Criminal Law (Offence) Act Chapter 8:01, which section creates and provides the penalty for the offence of Simple Larceny.”
Furthermore, the lawyers are asking trial Magistrate Fabayo Azore to dismiss the charge for these among other reasons. The prosecution, according to them, has not made out a prima facie case against their client.
It is their contention that the prosecution’s case is built on false premises that since the Ministry of Legal Affairs paid for the books, they belong to the Ministry.
This trial is continuing at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
Nandlall was previously reported saying that when he took up post as Attorney General, he did so at a loss and it was for that reason that he agitated for the state to pay for the Law Reports.
He had said that the arrangement received the blessings of then Head of State, Donald Ramotar.
However, investigators are contending that because the books were bought with State funds, they cannot be the property of Nandlall and in fact the State should not have entered into such an arrangement in the first place.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs is contending that there is no evidence of the agreement between Nandlall and Ramotar, and even assuming that there was such an agreement, the use of public funds in this manner is a flagrant violation of the Financial Management and Accountability Act (FMAA).
Nandlall was charged after the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU), an arm of the Guyana Police Force, completed investigations. Representing the State is Special Prosecutor Attorney-at-law Patrice Henry.
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