Criminal charges recommended against head of collapsed Hindu Credit Union

(Trinidad Express) The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is being asked to determine whether 22 criminal charges should be laid against Harry Harnarine for fraud and larceny during his tenure as president of the Hindu Credit Union (HCU).

This is the major recommendation of the report on the Commission of Enquiry into the collapsed institution.

The report has also recommended that civil charges be pursued against Harnarine in an attempt to recover lost funds.

So said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar as she laid the report on the commission of enquiry into the events surrounding the collapse of the HCU in the Parliament yesterday.

Persad-Bissessar has instructed Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to deliver copies of the report to both the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Roger Gaspard and Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams so that an immediate criminal investigation can be launched.

She has also instructed Ramlogan to pursue civil action to recover lost funds.

Persad-Bissessar also instructed Finance Minister Larry Howai to examine the report so that new laws can be drafted to “prevent a recurrence of this debilitating fiasco”.

She apologised on behalf of the government to those affected for “the pain and suffering, distress and inconvenience”.

On November 4, 2010 a commission of enquiry was appointed to enquire into the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the CL Financial Group of Companies and the HCU.

The Commission sat for 85 days.

Sir Anthony Colman, the sole commissioner of the enquiry handed over a report on the HCU aspect to President Anthony Carmona at his St Ann’s office on Thursday.

Colman has started work on the CLICO aspect, Persad-Bissessar said.

She said “to date the resolution of this fiasco has burned a hole in the Treasury of over $22 billion”.

Persad-Bissessar said consistent with her promise “for justice to be done” she was tabling the report into the collapse of HCU.

“The conduct of Mr Harry Harnarine was such that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) should take immediate steps to test the sustainability of criminal proceedings against him,” the report recommended.

Harnarine conspired with Gayndlal Ramnath, Yadwanath Lalchan, Jameel Ali and Ravindra Bachan “to defraud members of the HCU and their depositors in HCU and their depositors in HCU by agreeing dishonestly to put at risk the value and recoverability of the members’ investments and/or deposits by members and others as evidenced” be certain “reckless” actions, the report stated.

Eighteen criminal charges of fraud against Harnarine was recommended for his “reckless” behaviour, the report stated.

Four criminal charges against Harnarine for actions contrary to the Larceny Act were also recommended by the report.

Harnarine should have faced more charges but the time has passed, the report stated.

“There were also facts which would have justified further investigation by the DPP into the possibility of the commission of numerous summary offences had it not been for the fact that such offence are now all time-barred,” the report stated.

Persad-Bissessar has now instructed that action be taken as a result of the report.

“I have instructed the Honourable Attorney General to deliver copies of this report to the Director of Public Prosecutions and Commissioner of Police so that an immediate criminal investigation can be launched. I have further instructed the Honourable Attorney General to pursue civil action for the recovery of monies and damages in accordance with the Coleman recommendations,” she said.

“I have also instructed the Honourable Minister of Finance to examine Section L of the report which deals with attempts to reform the regulation of credit unions so this can inform the drafting of a new law for the proper and effective monitoring and supervision of credit unions to prevent a recurrence of this debilitating fiasco,” Persad-Bissessar said.

She also apologised to those affected.

“I wish to also take this opportunity to apologise on behalf of the Government to the thousands of our citizens for the pain and suffering, distress and inconvenience they have been forced to undergo as a result of the shortcomings and failures on the part of so many including the regulatory mechanisms of the State,” Persad-Bissessar said.

“I wish to end by giving them the reassurance that those responsible for their hurt and pain will feel the full brunt and weight of the law. The chips will fall where they must, no stone shall remain unturned in this quest for social justice on behalf of the people,” she said.

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