Peter Ramcharran, the former Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) accountant who was faced with 39 counts of fraud after being deported from Canada last month, yesterday pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
At a hearing before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in Georgetown, Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) prosecutor Patrice Henry requested to have the Administration of Justice Act applied, thereby allowing Ramcharran to plead.
The 39 charges were then read once again to Ramcharran, who pleaded not guilty to each one.
A request was then made by Henry to have one of the fraudulent appropriation charges withdrawn since it was duplicated.
This request was granted by the Chief Magistrate after no objection was raised by the defendant’s attorney, Sase Gunraj.
Henry then informed the court that of the 38 charges remaining, he would begin the prosecution with three; one from the 17 keeping fraudulent accounts charges; one from the 16 fraudulent appropriation charges; and another from the five fraudulent falsification charges. This will see three separate trials.
Henry also presented statements to Ramcharran relating to each of the charges and he requested a further date to present additional documents.
The proceedings were subsequently adjourned until May 16th.
Ramcharran faces 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 11th, 2010 and July 17th, 2012.
Sixteen other charges allege that Ramcharran, former GRDB General Manager Jagnarine Singh and Agricultural Consultant 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 8th, 2010 and January 17th, 2017.
Five more charges allege that Ramcharran, while being the accountant of GRDB, omitted to enter over $414 million in the GRDB ledger.
Based on the findings of an audit, six former GRDB board members were previously 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 Singh; Ramraj; former deputy Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture Prema Roopnarine; Business Consultant Badrie Persaud; General Secretary of the Rice Producers Association Dharamkumar Seeraj; and PPP/C parliamentarian Nigel Dharamlall.