Fmr. Deeds Registrar found guilty in $4.5M fraud case, ordered to repay State
Former Registrar of the Deeds Registry, Azeena Baksh was on Wednesday found guilty by City Magistrate Leron Daly of obtaining over $4.5M from the State by false pretence.
Baksh, 36 of Eccles, East Bank Demerara was found guilty of the offence which read that she while being employed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) between May 1, 2014, and January 31, 2017, in Georgetown, she caused or procured valuable securities in the sum of $4.5M to be delivered to her Nova Scotia bank account for her own use pretending she was a contracted employee at the Deeds Registry.
Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Teshana James-Lake represented the State while Baksh was represented by attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes.
Magistrate Daly ruled that the prosecution proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt, noting that Baksh was not a contract worker, and even signed her name on a memorandum to receive bi-annual gratuity.
The Magistrate noted that she committed these acts with the intention to defraud the State.
However, the Magistrate in sentencing noted that Baksh is not a threat to society and ordered restitution.
Baksh will have to repay the State all of the money she reportedly stole or serve one-year imprisonment.
She was ordered to lodge $1.1M and has to pay the rest within three months.
In April 2017, the Ministry of Legal Affairs had said that staff of the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority (DCRA) had called upon it to investigate complaints of alleged financial improprieties committed by Baksh.
Both the Human Resource and Accounting Departments of the DCRA had complained that as Head of the Budget Agency and sole person in authority to approve and sign off the payroll and one of the main signatories of the Authority’s bank account, the acting Registrar allegedly paid herself gratuity, well knowing she was a pensionable employee, having been appointed by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).