Ex-GRDB members arrested by SOCU

-to face charges today

Six former members of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) were held for questioning by the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) yesterday afternoon for allegedly omitting to record a “particular inflow of money” and they are expected to face charges today.

According to PPP/C attorney Anil Nandlall, Jagnarine Singh, who was once the GRDB General Manager, PPP/C MP Dharamkumar Seeraj, Ricky Ramraj, Prema Roopnarine, Badrie Persaud and PPP/C MP Nigel Dharamlall were all taken into SOCU’s headquarters on Camp Road for questioning.

After about two hours in the facility, the group was escorted by SOCU officers to Police Headquarters at Eve Leary, where they were fingerprinted and then to the Brickdam Police Station, where they were placed on bail.

After the questioning was completed, none of the six opted to make a comment to the media.

According to Nandlall, who is set to represent some of the six, they are all expected to be charged at the Georgetown Magis-trates’ Courts today.

“They are being charged jointly for failing to make a proper entry into a register of a company or body corporate,” he said.

“I had a look at the charge and, in my humble view, it is absolute harassment; it is frivolous, it is vexatious, it concerns the failure to make certain entries in relation to monies received through a foreign funded project and there is no evidence that this money was missing,” Nandlall added, while refuting the claims that the money was not spent for the intended purpose.

Nigel Dharamlall (at bottom of the stairs) along with some of the others who were questioned leaving the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) headquarters yesterday afternoon.

“The international lending agency would’ve only released monies having been satisfied that the account process and procedures would’ve been complied with and that is because it is a revolving fund and you would get replenishment from that fund at periodic intervals and before you draw on every replenishment you have to satisfy to the international lending agency that your accounting systems are in place and that has been done and the project has been successfully completed,” he explained.

When asked to identify the project, Nandlall said he could not say at the moment.  It is likely the PetroCaribe fund established with Venezuela.

Nandlall added that he was surprised at the specifics of the charge and had expected that it would’ve been along the lines of fraud. “If you subject this kind of scrutiny that they are subjecting these people to, to any department either in the public or private sector, you would have thousands of charges being generated,” he said.

Nandlall charged that the investigation is a waste of tax-payers money, since the matter will be taken to court, take several months and “will never yield in a conviction.” “…A properly advised person charged in these circumstances would be advised to sue the state because this is nothing short of malicious conviction and public harassment of people who are professional people,” he added.

PPP/C MPs Priya Manickchand and Juan Edghill were also present at the SOCU headquarters yesterday.

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