Former Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) General Manager Jagnarine Singh and agricultural consultant Madanlall Ramraj have denied a total of 34 charges that have been instituted against them for allegedly keeping fraudulent accounts and fraudulent appropriation of property.
Although the two men were charged in October, along with an absent former GRDB accountant, Peter Ramcharran, who is presently in Canada, the charges were withdrawn last Thursday after a request was made by Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) prosecutor Patrice Henry to Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in Georgetown. The amended charges against only Singh and Ramraj were then read.
Sixteen of the charges state that as members of the GRDB, at Lot 116 to 117 Cowan Street, Kingston, the two men omitted or concurred in omitting from the organisation’s general ledger entries related to a total of over $7 million, in various periods between January 11, 2010 and July 17, 2012.
The remaining 18 charges allege that they fraudulently took or applied to their own use and benefit or for any other purpose other than the use of the GRDB, over $9 million, between January 8, 2010 and January 17, 2017.
After the 34 charges were read, both defendants pleaded not guilty to them.
Attorney Glenn Hanoman, who represented both men, requested the continuation of the $1 million bail release previously granted to his clients.
Prosecutor Henry had no objection to the men remaining out on bail but asked the court to maintain the condition that they lodge their passports.
Hanoman then requested that the court release the condition since Singh is due in Trinidad for business purposes. He further noted that Singh was hoping to leave on Friday and return the following Tuesday, although his ticket had not yet been purchased.
While the Chief Magistrate granted the request to have the men remain out on $1 million bail each, she maintained that they must lodge their passports with the court. However, she told Hanoman that for Singh to obtain his passport to travel, he must purchase his ticket and return to court so that the court can be aware of the date when he is to return. After meeting the court’s conditions, Singh’s passport was released to him last Friday, with the understanding that he would travel on Wednesday and return Friday. He is then to lodge his passport with the court once more next Monday.
Meanwhile, Hanoman last Thursday made submissions to the court similar to those given during his clients’ previous arraignment.
The attorney stated that the new charges ought to be struck out. He noted that the criminal conduct complained of in the charges relating to fraudulently making entries are presently before Magistrate Leron Daly and his clients would have pleaded not guilty and granted bail.
He went on to state that the only difference in the charges is that the prosecutor charged Singh and Ramraj for their failure throughout the fiscal year. This, Hanoman asserted, is an abuse of procedure.
Hanoman continued his submissions by arguing that the charges related to the fraudulent making of entries are duplicitous in nature, while arguing that the prosecution has to decide whether the charge against the defendants is for a criminal act or a criminal omission.
The attorney further added that these charges are an abuse of process simply because the charges that preceded them were still live before the court and were identical.
Prosecutor Henry requested that he be granted the opportunity to reply to the attorney’s submissions. The request was granted by the Chief Magistrate, while January 10, 2018 was set for him to submit statements as it related to the individual 34 matters.