SOCU maintains more documents still outstanding from GBTI for US$500M rice board probe

Despite claims by the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) that it has now handed over to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) all the documents requested in its US$500 million Guyana Rice Development Board probe, with the exception of 12 letters, SOCU has argued that this is not the case and that there is more still outstanding.

With the exception of the letters, GBTI is claiming that it has handed over more than 11,000 documents, including those it had previously claimed were either lost or destroyed.

The Bank is now awaiting SOCU’s account of the outstanding documents it is contending are yet to be received.

The matter will be called again on December 11, when acting Chief Justice Roxane George will rule on whether the correct manner of certification was used for the documents.

SOCU had previously argued, that among documents they received, there were some which were not properly certified. Ahead of this ruling, both parties are to make submissions regarding Section 11 of the Evidence Act.

Additionally, the court will be making a pronouncement on the period of time which first has to elapse, before the bank can begin to destroy documents. This ruling will be made pursuant to Section 16 of the Act, which the parties also have to examine and submit authorities on.

In previous addresses to the court, the bank had said, among other things, that it could not produce some of the documents since they had already been destroyed since their retention period had expired.

After initially indicating that it could not produce some documents as they were either lost or destroyed, GBTI, at an October 20 hearing, was granted two weeks by the Chief Justice to find the documents.

When the matter was called last Thursday, however, attorney Ralph Ramkarran SC, reported that the documents were located and handed over to SOCU.

The bank had failed in its bid, to have the Chief Justice grant an interim stay of all further proceedings against its chairman and directors who were placed before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan on November 6 to answer contempt charges. The charges against the bank’s Chairman Robin Stoby SC and directors John Tracey, Edward Beharry, Suresh Beharry, Kathryn Eytle-McLean, Basil Mahadeo, Carlton James and Richard Isava, were for failing to comply with an order to produce the documents.

That matter continues on November 27.

As at the October 20 hearing, the bank was hoping for an interim stay, of all further proceedings against it, as it worked on complying with the court’s production order.

The contempt charges were instituted by the SOCU after they failed to make available, the documents requested for the probe.

The initial production order was made by the Chief Justice on August 29.

SOCU is being represented by Solicitor General Kim Kyte and attorney Leslyn Noble.

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