Fraud accused miner loses challenge to revocation of 35 gun licences

Saddiqi Rasul

The High Court on Wednesday ruled that the revocation of 35 gun licences that were granted to miner Saddiqi Rasul, owner of SRS Security Services, was lawful.

After the revocation of the licences, Rasul commenced proceedings in July of last year against the Attorney General’s Chambers (AG), seeking an order nisi of certiorari directed to then Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud, in his capacity as the Controlling Authority under the Private Securities Services Act, to show cause why his decision to revoke the licences should not be quashed.

By that point, Rasul had already been charged with defrauding a local bank of over $900 million.

In his affidavit, Rasul had said he is the owner and Chief Executive Officer of SRS Security Services, of 23 Gordon Street, Kitty, Georgetown. He is also the owner of and substantial investor in mining operations, which he said necessitates the use of private security for the purpose of maintaining his personal security as well as the safety of his employees.

SRS, he said, provides security services, not only to his mining operations, but to several other businesses which have engaged its services, and is concerned with safeguarding the assets and personal safety of its clients.

Rasul, the applicant, had contended that the decision to revoke his licences was ultra vires, null and void for reason that the Commissioner of Police did not obtain the expressed written approval of the Minister of Public Security prior to the revocation, as is required by the Private Securities Act.

He had argued too that the Commissioner of Police did not afford him an opportunity to be heard prior to revoking the licences.

Rasul was also seeking an order or rule nisi of mandamus directed to Persaud to show cause why he should not be compelled to reinstate the licences granted to SRS Security Services, arguing that all pre-conditions for the grant of such a licences had been satisfied and were at no time breached.

Attorney Judy Stuart-Adonis, who represented the AG’s Chambers, the respondent, had, however, argued, among other things, that Rasul breached conditions under which the licences were granted.

She had contended that the gravity and nature of the offences for which Rasul had been charged were material considerations taken into account when it was found that he was unfit to be entrusted with firearms.

Having been charged for an offence involving “moral turpitude,” Stuart-Adonis argued that Rasul became unfit to be the holder of firearm licences for which a recommendation was subsequently made for the revocation.

Contrary to Rasul’s contention that Persaud never obtained the express approval of the Minister to revoke the licences, Stuart-Adonis said that a written and express approval marked “approval granted,” bearing the Minister’s signature and dated 15th June, 2017 was granted by the minister for the revocation of the licences in accordance with section 4(2) of the Private Security Services Act.

Counsel had argued that it is an implied condition that for the granting and continuous eligibility as the holder of a firearm licence the applicant “ought not to be involved in criminal activities or breach any of the Pre-requisite conditions for the grant of such licences.”

She had said further, that the revocation was lawful and done in accordance with the powers vested in the state under section 4(2) of the Private Security Services Act and Section 18 (8) (a) of the Firearms Act and in accordance with the rules of natural justice.

Meanwhile, to his claim of not being given a chance to be heard, the lawyer said that the applicant was asked to show cause in writing on or before 9th May, 2017 why his licence should not be revoked.

Though given this opportunity, however, she said that the applicant failed to provide any reason why his licences should not be revoked.

She noted that in accordance with the rules of natural justice, he was specifically asked to justify why his licences should not be revoked in light of the criminal charges of obtaining credit by false pretence, contrary to Section 213 (2) of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act being laid against him.

Stuart-Adonis had contended that as a result of the ongoing charges, the licences ought to have been revoked.

In her ruling, acting Chief Justice Roxane George SC declared that the Minister had lawfully approved the revocation of Rasul’s firearms licences in accordance with section 4(2) of the Private Security Services Act.

The court had also ruled that Rasul was given an opportunity to be heard and it is he who failed to show cause why his licences should not be revoked.

Rasul was also ordered to pay costs to the state in the sum of $100, 000.

Rasul was represented by attorney Nigel Hughes.

On 31st March, 2017, the management of the Guyana Bank for Trade of Industry Limited (GBTI) reported that on 22nd March, 2017, Rasul deposited six Citizens Bank cheques, totaling $941,000,000 into his personal bank account at the bank’s Bartica branch.

It is alleged that Rasul knew that he did not have cash in his chequing account at Citizens Bank to honour the cheques, but nevertheless fraudulently withdrew the entire sum of $941,000,000 from GBTI.

Rasul was subsequently arrested and charged with six counts of obtaining money by false pretence, contrary to Section 194 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act.

The charges were, however, withdrawn and on the 21st April, 2017, Rasul was then arraigned on six charges of obtaining credit by false pretence, contrary to Section 213 (2) of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act. He pleaded not guilty and was placed on $1,500,000 bail on each count by Magistrate Crystal Lambert, at the Bartica Magistrate’s Court.

An order nisi brought against Magistrate Lambert by Rasul, to quash the charges instituted against him was discharged and the determination of these charges against him is still pending.

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