Contempt trial of GBTI directors begins

The trial of the eight members of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Bank for Trade Industry (GBTI), for allegedly failing to comply with a court order, commenced yesterday.

Those charged are Robin Stoby, Senior Counsel, who is also Chair-man of the Board; Shaleeza Shaw, acting Chief Executive Officer of GBTI; Edward Anand Beharry, who is the Chairman of Edward Beharry and Sons Ltd; Suresh Beharry, who is the Vice-Chairman of Edward Beharry and Sons Ltd; Richard Isava, who is an investment banker; Carlton James; Basil Mahadeo and Kathryn Eytle-McLean.

It is alleged that the accused on September 7th, 2017, failed to comply with an order issued by the acting Chief Justice Roxane George SC for the production of documents for an ongoing criminal investigation

The documents at the centre of the charge are pertinent to the ongoing US$500 million Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) probe being conducted by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). SOCU has claimed that the bank’s failure to hand over the documents has stalled the probe.

During yesterday’s proceedings, SOCU head Sydney James testified that on August 29th, 2017, he prepared an affidavit for a production order for financial information from GBTI with respect to a GRDB investigation. He noted that the application was subsequently approved by the Chief Justice and on August 30th, 2017, he handed over the order to Melissa Peterkin, a High Court marshal, and accompanied her to GBTI’s headquarters at Young and High streets.

James noted that the production order was given to Sonia McCurdy, a bank employee who accepted service on behalf of the company.

James’ evidence was later suspended.

Earlier in the court proceedings Special Superintendent Robert Tyndall, who is attached to SOCU as an investigator, also testified to arresting and cautioning a number of the defendants. Peterkin also testified to serving the order on McCurdy.

The trial will continue today.

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