Fugitive GRA cashier arrested in the US

A traffic stop on Monday evening for an expired registration and illegal tinted windows in upstate New York, found that the driver, Guyanese Gregory Alistair Ewan Barnes, 32, of George Urban Blvd in Cheektowaga, was wanted by Interpol, Cheektowaga police said Friday.

The Buffalo News newspaper reported that a computer check on his licence, revealed there was an active warrant since 2010, through Interpol, on Barnes, who was suspected of embezzling somewhere between $6 million to $300 million in Guyanese dollars – equivalent to between US$29,000 and US$1.4 million – from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

Stabroek News newspaper had reported in February 2010 that the Guyana Police Force had sought the assistance of Interpol in its efforts to apprehend Barnes, who was then suspected of embezzling some $6M from the GRA.

Barnes, a GRA cashier and a systems engineer named Garfield Pearson were accused of conspiring to defraud some $6M of tax payments made to the GRA.

 

It was alleged that up to October 2009, Barnes had accepted payments, given the taxpayers their receipts, and then the transactions would be deleted from the computer system before balancing the accounts at the end of the day.

He would allegedly retain some of the cash, but replaced the transactions to facilitate the removal of the goods and after which the transactions would again be removed from the computer system.

The fraud reportedly was detected in October 2009 when Barnes was allegedly caught with over $1M in his possession and had later contacted Pearson to replace the transaction in the computer system.

A forensic auditor was retained by the GRA and had found that the duo had acted together to commit fraud.

Barnes apparently had fled the jurisdiction in 2009 while police were still investigating the matter.

When he was stopped in upstate New York, the warrant was confirmed through US National Central Bureau, a division of Interpol US Department of Justice in Washington DC, Cheektowaga police said.

Barnes was turned over to the US Customs and Border Patrol for a visa violation and may be deported to Guyana, the Buffalo News reported.

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