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GBTI Directors, CEO charged with failing to comply with court order

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Eight officials of the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) were on Monday charged with failing to comply with a production order issued by acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire.

Chairman, Robin Stoby; Directors, Edward A. Beharry, Suresh Beharry, Kathryn Eytle-McLean, Richard Isava, Carlton James, Basil Mahadeo and Chief Executive Officer (ag) Shaleeza Shaw were all charged jointly.

However, Eytle-McLean was charged in absentia since she is currently out of the jurisdiction on vacation. They appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court and pleaded not guilty to the charge, which alleged that on or before August 29, 2017 at Georgetown, they failed to comply with a production order issued by Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire after same was served by a marshal of the High Court to produce certain documents within seven days to Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sydney James, who is the head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).

It is alleged that they contravened the order without reasonable cause. SOCU had requested bank information as it probes an alleged US$500M fraud at the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB).

Prominent Attorney, Nigel Hughes represented the officials; he told the court that the same matter is currently engaged before the High Court.

According to Hughes, GBTI is one of the leading financial institutions in the country and that the eight accused complied with the order; he said the bank was granted an extension last Friday to submit the documents.

However, SOCU Prosecutor, Patrice Henry told the court that the bank officials took it upon themselves to withhold the documents and information.

“The brain of the company are its directors,” the Prosecutor stressed; he, however, did not object to bail. The matter was adjourned to November 20, 2017, and the officials were released on self-bail.

SOCU is contending that the bank failed or stalled and gave excuses and even destroyed pertinent records relating to GRDB. SOCU received four court orders, including one from the High Court, asking that GBTI hand over the information.

In late August, the acting Chief Justice granted production orders to SOCU, giving the bank a week to hand over certain information. That deadline expired in early September, and the bank was reportedly granted some extra time. However, the deadline elapsed and SOCU recommended that the bank officials be charged.

Under tough anti-money laundering laws, once court orders are granted, financial institutions are reportedly bound to provide information. In this case, the monies are not from private accounts, but rather from the US dollar and other accounts of GRDB, a state entity.

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