With former Ministry of the Presidency Permanent Secretary Omar Shariff being among the 25 Guyanese students granted a place this year to pursue studies at the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago, a city court yesterday ordered the return of his passport to him but asked that he post $1 million bail to ensure his return for his trial.
Shariff and his wife Savitri Hardeo, both of Dowding Street, Kitty, are currently on trial before Magistrate Fabayo Azore on a charge that on or before October 14th, 2016, at Georgetown, they failed to comply with a production order issued by acting Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards after same was served by a marshal of the High Court to produce certain named documents, within seven days to Assistant Commissioner of Police Sydney James, who is the head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). It is alleged that they contravened the order without reasonable cause.
Shariff’s attorney, Sanjeev Datadin, made a request to have his client’s passport, which was lodged, returned to him.
There was no objection made to this request by SOCU prosecutor Patrice Henry. However, Henry requested that the accused be placed on $1 million bail.
Magistrate Azore subsequently ordered that the defendant’s passport be returned to him subsequent to the posting of the bail. The matter was then adjourned until September 17th, when attorney Datadin is expected to make no-case submissions.
The proceedings have been ongoing since January, 2017.
Shariff, who was fired at the end of 2016, had initially been sent on annual leave from July 1st, 2016 by Minister of State Joseph Harmon, following the investigations that were launched by SOCU.
Harmon had said Shariff was sent on leave to facilitate the ongoing investigation into the acquisition of his personal assets and accounts. The Ministry of the Presidency had reported him as saying that the exorbitant accumulation of property and wealth, which could not be justified by income by any public servant, regardless of their position in the administration, would raise questions.
Shariff, in a statement, had said that SOCU had launched an investigation into a personal matter related to tax remittance and compliance regarding his legitimate business operations over the past few years and pointed out that his business and the Guyana Revenue Authority had been engaged on the issue since early 2007.