Former NBS CEO sues government over ‘malicious prosecution’

Former New Building Society (NBS) Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Secretary Maurice Arjoon has sued the government for over $2 million for damages he says he suffered as a result of being charged with a $69 million fraud committed at the institution in 2007.

Arjoon’s attorneys Nigel Hughes and Tanya Warren, filed the action in June last year, after the charge against him was dismissed by Magistrate Fazil Azeez on November 26, 2010.

According to the statement of claim, Arjoon was charged “maliciously and without reasonable or probable cause,” for which he is seeking special damages – $1,041,599 for lost of employment; $642,744 for loss of allowances; and $496,664 for loss of pension, all calculated for a period of 42 months during which he lost employment. Arjoon is also seeking damages in excess of $50,000 for malicious prosecution and indictment for the charge of conspiracy to defraud as well as damages in excess of $50,000 for false imprisonment on or about July 1, 2007.

The statement of claim added that then attorney general Charles Ramson SC, who is named as defendant, “caused and procured the commencement of a preliminary inquiry against the plaintiff (Arjoon).” It was noted too the Arjoon was terminated from his employment as a result of the institution of charges and as a consequence suffered loss and damage.

According to a defence prepared by Nareshwar Harnanan, deputy solicitor general on behalf of Ramson, the charge against Arjoon was justified and “based on the evidence obtained through investigations by the Guyana Police Force and statements from persons who assisted with those investigations into the series of fraudulent transactions.”

The defence stated that the AG specifically denies every allegation of fact or contention of law made and contained in the statement of claim.

It was noted that the common law offence of conspiracy to defraud is an indictable offence for which a preliminary inquiry is a prerequisite whether or not there is a sufficiency of evidence to justify committing the accused/plaintiff to stand trial in the High Court.

“The defendant will contend that the termination of the plaintiff’s employment by the New Building Society was independent of the action of the Director of Public Prosecutions and any loss suffered, if any, by the plaintiff, was not as a result of the action of the said Director of Public Prosecution,” Harnanan stated.

He also stated that the AG contends that the state is vested with a statutory and constitutional mandate to investigate allegations of criminal activity and institute charges, respectively.

“The defendant will further contend that the action herein is an abuse of the process of the court is speculative, entirely misconceived and unmeritorious and ought to be dismissed with a substantial award of costs,” Harnanan added.

Arjoon along with Amarita Prashad were freed of the allegations by Magistrate Fazil Azeez on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

The other defendants in the case, Kissoon Baldeo, Kent Vincent, Ashley Legall, Imran Bacchus and Mohanram Shahebudin also subsequently had the charges against them dismissed.

The fraud case comprised four separate preliminary inquiries. Over time, they were each dismissed for insufficient evidence.

The virtual complainant, Bibi Khan, from whose account the money was allegedly withdrawn without notice, failed to attend court hearings.

She had appeared during the first PI, where she had given evidence but defence lawyers were later unable to complete their cross-examination of her.

The final case was dismissed on October 12, 2011 last by acting Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, after the prosecution admitted that it would be difficult to make a case without the testimony of the complainant. Khan is reportedly living in Canada.

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