SOCU should investigate, charge GINA Director over misuse of State funds – Jagdeo
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo believes that Director of the Government Information Agency (GINA), Beverly Alert who recently admitted to the misappropriation of State funds should be charged by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
Comparing the recent charges brought against some Former Directors of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) for alleged fraud, Jagdeo yesterday (24th May 2017) made an attempt to prove once again that the government’s fight against corruption is nothing but a façade.
Alert, a senior member of the Alliance For Change (AFC), on Monday last (May 22, 2017) indicated to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the GINA staff were paid bonuses in 2015 following approval from the Finance Secretary. However, under cross-examination, it was found that a Contingency Fund advance made in 2016 was in fact used to make the payments in 2015.
Given her inability to explain some of the glaring inaccuracies regarding monetary spending at the agency, Alert has now called on the Auditor General to re-look at the entity’s finances.
But Jagdeo said, when using the same principle which was applied to the former GRDB staff, the AFC Member should be charged.
“She should be before SOCU almost immediately and charged in Court,” the Opposition Leader emphasised.
In fact, he said the government has set a precedent and a standard whereby almost every single board director in the country would be liable for criminal charges over procedural issues.
When asked why the PAC Chairman, Irfaan Ali did not call in the relevant authorities to deal with the matter involving the GINA Director, Jagdeo referred to previous occasions where the PPP’s complaints to law enforcement fell on deaf ears.
He noted with concern that the law enforcement officers only seem to respond promptly when a government official makes an allegation against persons affiliated with the PPP.
Jagdeo also used the opportunity to defend the former GRDB staff inclusive of two PPP parliamentarians who were charged on Friday (May 19, 2017) for allegedly conspiring to omit to enter different sums of money into a ledger that was deposited into the Board’s Republic Bank Account
Jagdeo argued that those actions are outside the remit of directors but rather a procedural issue or a responsibility of an accountant.
He also noted that the charges brought against the Deeds Registrar, Azeena Baksh is one that encompasses a dispute in understanding.
In her case, Jagdeo highlighted that Baksh was paid a gratuity of which she was entitled to whereby the government argues this that the payment was unlawful as she was appointed by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) and is, therefore, a pensionable employee.
Jagdeo contended that these are no grounds for criminal charges to be laid and posited that the young professional – who is currently in her third trimester – is only being targeted because of her father, Ali Baksh once served as a minister under the PPP administration.