Taxi service part-owner facing US visa scam charges

The part-owner of a taxi service was granted $400,000 bail by Acting Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson when he appeared before her yesterday charged with two counts of obtaining money by false pretence.

Mohanram Shahebudin, 47, of 1 C Blygezight Gardens pleaded not guilty to the charges. Shahebudin is a taxi driver and has part interest in Adrian’s Taxi Service.

The charges allege that on November 26, 2007 at Georgetown, he obtained US$1,800 ($3.6 million) from Suresh Singh by falsely pretending that he was in a position to acquire a US visa, knowing same to be false. It is also alleged that between October 1 and 31, 2009 he obtained $700,000 from Zahir Shaw by pretending to be in a position to acquire a US visa for him.

Attorney-at-law Vic Puran appeared on Shahebudin’s behalf and said that his client was not a flight risk and asked for reasonable bail to be granted.

Singh said he had intention of going abroad and Shahebudin said he worked with the Ministry of Home Affairs and could arrange for him to attend a conference in the US.

He further told the court that he was under the assumption that Shahebudin had procured a visa for him.

He said plans were put in place for him to leave the country and Shahebudin booked him to travel on a Caribbean Airlines flight from Guyana to Miami.

He said it was only when he was onboard the plane that he checked his passport and discovered that he did not have a visa. He said he made it as far as the Bahamas but was sent back to Guyana the following day.

Police Prosecutor Inspector Stephen Telford said he had no objection to bail. He asked that Shahebudin make weekly checks with the CID and for him to lodge his passport.

The magistrate then granted $200,000 bail on each count and the accused is required to report to the CID every Monday and Friday. The matter was set down for May 28 for advice to be sought from the DPP.

In October 2007, Shahebudin was one of the persons charged with conspiring to defraud the NBS of $69 million.

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