The Government has denied paying $72.8 million in legal fees to Queen’s Counsel Dr. Francis Raphael Alexis for his representation of the State in the No-Confidence Appeal cases.
Dr. Alexis has been retained by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams to argue the appeal in two of the Confidence cases.
The fees became a source of concern after a payment voucher of $72.8 million purportedly issued by the Ministry of Legal Affairs in favour Dr. Alexis made rounds on social media.
The voucher raised the eyebrows of several persons including Attorney -at- law Chris Ram and former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall. Both men subsequently questioned the authenticity of the information.
Nandlall admitted to posting the voucher but claimed that he took it down immediately because he could not verify it. But by then what he posted had gone viral.
In a statement, Ram noted that while he has no reason to ascertain the authenticity of the payment voucher, he has some doubt that Williams “would pay such an exorbitant sum in one of the most frivolous appeals before our courts for decades.”
The Chartered Accountant noted, nonetheless, that he is prepared to give the benefit of an explanation to Mr. Williams but asked that he respond to a number of questions including whether the payment voucher is authentic and a payment of $72.8 million was made; whether this is a final payment, and if not, what is the total sum to be paid to Dr. Alexis and what is the scope of Dr. Alexis’s retainer?”
Late yesterday, the Attorney General Chambers/Ministry of Legal Affairs, (AGC/MOLA) issued a statement debunking the authenticity of the information. The statement however did not clarity the actual payments made to Dr. Alexis for entering appearances on behalf of the State.
The Attorney General’s Chambers frontally denied information labeling it malicious and counterfeit.
The statement outlined that the image of a purported payment voucher issued to Dr. Alexis, for his services provided to the State in Government No -Confidence Appeal cases was shared on the Facebook account of Former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, and is now widely circulated on various social media platforms by many online users.
“The AGC/MOLA, frontally deny and reject out of hand such a payment was ever made. By no stretch of imagination, this document resembles or even comes close to the Payment Vouchers utilized by Government agencies.”
The missive went on to note that many social media users, who are acquainted with the Government’s Payment System, can easily detect the irregularities and inconsistencies with this document.
“Over the years, the Government of Guyana, irrespective, of which political party is governing, has developed a standardized system of payment and documents that should be utilized when offsetting these payments throughout all ministries nationwide. This transaction is no different and the system cannot be unilaterally abrogated.”
Some of the discrepancies detected in the document are not limited to but are as follows– the AGC/MOLA does not use a ‘ref #’; the amount quoted by the document is substantially inaccurate and misleading; as stated before, the document is not authentic since there is a standard payment voucher utilized by Government agencies and the cheque number is not related to any payment for Dr. Alexis.
Moreover, it is imperative to note that the two officers named that are attached to the AGC/MOLA appearing on the document cannot carry out such a transaction.
Mrs. Tamika Barkoye, cannot approve such payment. Also, Ms. Simone Allen does not make payments of any sort,” the Ministry added.
“The circulation of this voucher along with initial speculation associated with Dr. Alexis being retained by the AGC/MOLA is calculated to be entirely mischievous and is highly unacceptable.”
Additionally, the Ministry noted that under the former administration, the AGC/MOLA would have expended hefty sums of monies to retain lawyers from within the Caribbean region to bolster their legal teams.
“Examples include the Elections Petition Case of 2015, the lawyer being Abe Dabdoub of Jamaica and Seenauth Jairam SC of Trinidad and Tobago in the Budget- Cuts case to name a few.”
The Chambers added this must be seen as yet another blatant attack on professionals of the public service attached to the AGC/MOLA and by extension the Government of Guyana. The Ministry asked the images be removed immediately.
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