Senior, retired cops in $10M fraud case charged, released on bail
Nine senior and retired policemen of the Guyana Police Force were on Thursday jointly charged with the offence of Conspiracy to Defraud the state of just over $10 million, while two were charged separately with Misconduct in Public Office.
Those charged are the current Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and former Assistant Commissioner of Police, Paul Slowe; member of the PSC and retired Assistant Commissioner, Clinton Conway; Assistant Commissioner Royston Andries-Junor; former Police Finance officers, Woman Senior Superintendent, Marcelene Washington and retired Senior Superintendent, Michael Sutton; staff of the Police Finance Office, Assistant Superintendent, Marlon Kellman and three retired officers identified as Assistant Commissioner, Claude Whittaker, Senior Superintendent, George Fraser and Superintendent Mark Gilbert.
Washington and Sutton were charged also with Misconduct in Public office. Seven of them were arrested and taken to the Brickdam Police Station on Wednesday.
The matters were heard at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court before Senior Magistrate, Sherdel Isaacs. Slowe and Washington were not present at Court as they are out of the jurisdiction. Their matters were adjourned to June 14, 2021, during which they should return to answer the charges.
It is alleged in the conspiracy charge that Slowe, Conway, Whittaker, Fraser, Gilbert, Andries-Junor, Washington, Sutton and Kellman between March 1, 2019, and July 7, 2020, at the Guyana Police Force Headquarters, Eve Leary, conspired together, and with other persons, to defraud the Force of $10,056,000.
It is alleged that Slowe, Conway, Whittaker, Fraser and Gilbert were paid the money without complying with the proper procedures, purportedly to do a review of the Force Standing Orders. It was found that this review had already commenced in July 2018 and concluded in March 2019, by the Strategic Planning Unit of the Force.
They were not required to plea to the indictable charge and were granted bail in the sum of 100,000 each.
As it relates to the misconduct charge against Sutton, it is alleged that while performing duties as Finance Officer between July 1 – 31, 2019, he willfully misconducted himself by falsely signing seven payment vouchers as the accounting officer, when he was not authorised to do, enabling Paul Slowe, Clinton Conway, Claude Whittaker, George Fraser and Mark Gilbert to be paid a total of $1,776,000, without the approval of Daniella Mc Calmon, the Accounting Officer and without any reasonable excuse or justification.
He was granted an additional $100,000 bail for this offence.
They were all represented by a team of lawyers consisting of Nigel Hughes, Patrice Henry, Darren Wade, Dexter Todd, Dennis Paul, E. Lammy and N. Leander.
The News Room understands that investigation conducted by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) revealed that Leslie James, former Commissioner of Police, solely hired Slowe, Conway, Whittaker, Gilbert and Fraser to conduct a complete revision of the Standing Orders.
SOCU alleged that James did not prepare a budget for the service that was offered; he made no contractual agreements with specifications of what was to be revised and terms of payments. It is also alleged that the former top cop never sent for nor received approval from the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Security or the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board.
It is SOCU’s case that the payments amounted to over $10 million and it should have been budgeted and sent to the Tender board for approval.
SOCU is contending that the very Standing Orders that James hired the former Officers to revise, were already revised by highly qualified and competent policy analysts of the Strategic Planning Unit.
It was also discovered that even though the hefty sum was paid to the officers in question, they did not provide the Force with a completed revised Standing Order.
SOCU discovered that payment accounts were prepared individually from March 2019 upon instructions from the Head of the Strategic Planning Unit (SPU), Assistant Commissioner Royston Andries-Junor.
It is alleged that upon his transfer from the Unit in November 2019, he instructed the new Head of SPU, to ensure she continues making out payment accounts for the said officers. She made out accounts as instructed until February 2020.
An examination by SOCU of over 60 payment vouchers showed that Washington and Sutton signed 15 Payment Vouchers collectively as the Accounting Officer (Washington 8 and Sutton 7).
As a result of what they did, Kellman entered the information into the IFMIS although the vouchers were not approved and signed by the substantive accounting officer.
The case is adjourned to June 3, 2021. Meanwhile, speaking to the media after the court proceedings, attorney Hughes deemed the charges to be “not based in fact” and “merit”.