Former Ministry of the Presidency Permanent Secretary Omar Shariff and his common-law wife were yesterday each read a charge alleging that they failed to comply with a court order.
The charge against Shariff, 46, and Savitri Hardeo, 32, both of Dowding Street, Kitty, alleges that on or before October 14, 2016, at Georgetown, they failed to comply with a production order issued by acting Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards after same was served by a marshal of the High Court to produce certain named documents within seven days to Assistant Commissioner of Police Sydney James, who is the head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). It is alleged that they contravened the order without reasonable cause.
Both Shariff and Hardeo pleaded not guilty after the charge was read to them by Magistrate Fabayo Azore in Georgetown.
The couple were due to be charged last week Thursday but the reading of the charge was deferred at the request of the prosecution.
Attorney Sanjeev Datadin appeared on behalf of Shariff and Hardeo and requested that both his clients be released on self-bail.
This request was not objected to by Special Prosecutor Patrice Henry, who asked that both defendants be ordered to lodge their passports and report to the SOCU
The defendants were subsequently released on self-bail and ordered to report to Superintendent Robert Tyndall at SOCU every other Monday at 10. They were also ordered to lodge their passports.
According to Henry, approximately 7 witnesses will be called to give evidence. The matter was later adjourned to February 1.
Shariff, who was fired at the end of last year, had initially been sent on annual leave from July 1, 2016 by Minister of State Joseph Harmon, following the investigations that were launched by SOCU.
Harmon had said Shariff was sent on leave to facilitate the ongoing investigation into the acquisition of his personal assets and accounts. The Ministry of the Presidency had reported him as saying that the exorbitant accumulation of property and wealth, which cannot be justified by income by any public servant, regardless of their position in the administration, would raise questions.
Shariff, in a statement, had said that SOCU had launched an investigation into a personal matter related to tax remittance and compliance regarding his legitimate business operations over the past few years and pointed out that his business and the Guyana Revenue Authority have been engaged on the issue since early 2007.