Buddy Shivraj charged with failing to produce NIS records

- two months after inspection team fracas

Housing scheme developer Omprakash ‘Buddy’ Shivraj has been charged with failing to turn over records to a National Insurance Scheme (NIS) inspector, two months after he and several workers allegedly attacked an inspection team.

Shivraj was charged with failing to produce relevant records to the NIS inspector.

Stabroek News was reliably informed that the charge was instituted last Wednesday at the Providence Magistrate’s Court. Shivraj was absent but his attorney was present.

The charge stemmed from a July 22 incident, which occurred at the Shivraj housing scheme under construction behind the Guyana National Stadium, at Providence.

NIS had said that the inspection team “came under attack” while visiting the construction site at New Providence, East Bank Demerara. The team was headed by Senior Inspector Nicholas Yearwood and included Inspectors Regan Baxter, Carolyn Peters and Leslie Allen, who were accompanied by driver Horace Richards. The officers, NIS said, were conducting routine exercises and visited the site to execute a full compliance check at the time of the alleged attack.

During the visit, NIS said the officers impounded three wages record and time sheets for inspection. As a result, it added, they were surrounded by Shivraj and several of his employees, who prevented them from leaving the property. Shivraj and his employees allegedly held the officers hostage whilst using threats and force in demanding the return of the impounded documents, which were forcefully wrenched from the hands of Inspector Baxter, it added.

The release said that the matter was later reported to the Providence Police Station. But police ranks have been criticised for failing to properly follow up on the report.

The charge against Shivraj has angered many within NIS, with some saying that there were four other charges that should have been laid against the businessman, including failing to register as an employer and failing to register employees.

There is also some dissatisfaction with the fact that a call for an attorney to prosecute the matter has not been acted upon. According to a source, a substantive senior inspector, who is performing the duties of chief inspector, was appointed prosecutor.

This newspaper understands that at last week’s hearing, the prosecutor informed the court that he needed time to ascertain whether the record book tendered was in fact the one that was first seized by the inspectors and which was allegedly wrestled away by Shivraj and his workers.

The source added that to make matters worse, the affected inspectors were not informed of the court case. They were also not given the opportunity to review their statements in case they have to testify.

Fingers were also pointed at the Guyana Police Force for failing to arrest or question the businessman and his workers after the alleged attack. The court matter was adjourned to October 7.