Weeks after lawyers for top ranking officials at the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) who are charged with contempt over failing to hand over certain documents to the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) mounted a challenge to the contents of affidavit, the court yesterday ruled that the content of the affidavit is not a
The case involves Chairman, Robin Stoby S.C; 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, 2017 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, 2017.
Yesterday when the matter was called, Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in ruling in relation to the no-case submission made by the defence in relation to a voir dire (trial within a trial) told the court that after going through the evidence of Ramesh Persaud, a Commissioner of Oath to Affidavit attached to the Law Chamber of Senior Counsel Luckhoo, she is of the opinion that the witness’s testimony lacks certain key information.
She added that while the witness testified to putting his signature on the affidavit, he failed to identify the person who swore to the affidavit.
Hence the Magistrate told the court that she found insufficient evidence.
She then told the court that she will not call on the defendants to lead a defence in the voir dire; hence she dismissed the voir dire.
On the last court hearing lawyers for the banking officials had requested the Magistrate conduct a voir dire to determine the voluntariness of the affidavit which was made out by Persaud.
After the Magistrate’s ruling yesterday, SOCU forensic analyst, Special Superintendent Sherronne James concluded giving evidence in the matter, hence Prosecutor Patrice Henry closed its case.
The matter will continued on December 4 when the defence is expected to make no-case submission on their client’s behalf.
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 Director of Public Prosecutions (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. SOCU is contending that the bank failed or stalled handing over certain banking records concerning GRDB.
SOCU, an arm of the Guyana Police Force, also said that the bank 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 with GBTI.
SOCU received four court orders, including one from the high court, asking that GBTI hand over the information.
Late August last year, the acting Chief Justice Roxane George granted production orders to SOCU, giving the bank a week to hand over certain information. That deadline expired in early September 2017 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 the court orders are granted, financial institutions are reportedly bound to provide information.
In this case, the money is not from private accounts, but rather from the US-dollar and other accounts of GRDB, a state entity.
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