Former Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) accountant, Peter Ramcharran, was remanded to prison yesterday, after he was hit with 39 fraud charges, which were read to him at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court immediately following his deportation from Canada.
Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) prosecutor, Patrice Henry, told the court that an arrest warrant was issued for Ramcharran since 2017, and subsequently made an application for the charges to be read.
Ramcharran, 39, faced 17 charges which allege that as a member of the GRDB, at Lot 116 to 117 Cowan Street, Kingston, he omitted or concurred in omitting from the organisation’s general ledger, entries related to a total of over $7 million in various periods between January 11, 2010 and July 17, 2012.
Seventeen other charges allege that Ramcharran, along with Jagnarine Singh and Madanlall Ramraj, fraudulently took or applied to their own use and benefit, or for any other purpose other than the use of GRDB, over $5.1 million, between January 8, 2010 and January 17, 2017.
Five more charges allege that Ramcharran, while being the accountant of GRDB, omitted to enter over $414 million in the GRDB ledger.
He was not required to plead, as the charges were all indictable.
Ramcharran’s attorney, Sase Gunraj, in his application for bail, told the court that Ramcharran is not a flight risk and will have a fixed place of abode at Lot 32 Area G, Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara, if granted bail. He also reported that Ramcharran had fully cooperated with the police and is anxious to defend himself against the charges.
Prosecutor Henry objected to Ramcharran’s release, saying that he was a flight risk and had been avoiding court for the past two years and that investigations are still ongoing. He added that SOCU is currently unsure of Ramcharran’s address as he had recently (yesterday) returned from Canada.
Gunraj challenged the objections, contending that Henry did not provide any valid reason for bail to be refused. He then said that “ongoing investigations” don’t provide the basis for an objection. In relation to Ramcharran’s home address, Gunraj said, “After two years of investigations, how is it that SOCU can’t verify Ramcharran place of residence?”
Gunraj further noted that there are several other persons charged with similar offences, on which bail was granted.
Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan, however, denied Gunraj’s bail application, due to the uncertainty of Ramcharran’s address and remanded the accused to prison. The matter was subsequently adjourned until March 25, 2019. It was previously reported that last June, six former GRDB board members were charged with failing to record entries for funds amounting to over $250 million in the agency’s general ledger, from 2011 to 2015. They were Jagnarine Singh, former GRDB General Manager; Prema Roopnarine, former deputy Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture; Ricky Ramraj, Agricultural Consultant; Badrie Persaud, Business Consultant; Dharamkumar Seeraj, the General Secretary of the Rice Producers Association; and Nigel Dharamlall, a PPP/C member.