Charges dismissed against former GRDB officers
Fraud-related charges against three former managers of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) were dismissed on Friday by Magistrate Leron Daly at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court.
The case was dismissed against GRDB’s former Deputy Permanent Secretary (Finance), Prema Ramanah-Roopnarine; PPP Parliamentarian, Nigel Dharamlall and former General Manager, Jagnarine Singh.
Attorney-at-law Sase Gunraj, who represented Roopnarine, told the News Room that the case was dismissed on the grounds that Special Prosecutor of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Lawrence Harris failed to prove his case against the defendants.
In May 2017, Roopnarine, Dharamlall and Singh along with former Deputy General Manager of GRDB Ricky Ramraj, Head of the Rice Producers Association (RPA), Dharamkumar Seeraj and former member of the GRDB, Badrie Persaud were dragged before the court by SOCU and charged with fraud totalling over $400 million.
Ramraj subsequently filed a lawsuit in the High Court challenging the grounds on which he was dragged before the court. As a result, he had his name struck out of the case by Justice Navindra Singh.
The multi-million-dollar fraud at the Rice Development Board covers the period 2011 to 2015.
The charges stemmed from a forensic audit completed into the management of the GRDB in 2017.
The former GRDB Board members were slapped with five separate charges to which they were not required to plead as it was entered indictable. They were placed on $500,000 bail each.
The court on May 19, 2017, heard that the six-accused conspired to omit to enter different sums of money into a ledger that was deposited into the Board’s Republic Bank Account.
However, the court on Friday found that it was not the responsibility of the defendants to enter the information into the ledger.
Magistrate Daly only dealt with the charges which cover 2011. At that time, Seeraj and Persaud were not at the GRDB and as such, their case was set for September 20.
Attorney Gunraj said given Friday’s ruling, it is unlikely that the other charges will be successful.