NICIL Fraud investigation…Former Ministers among those to be charged next week – Khemraj Ramjattan

NICIL Fraud investigation…Former Ministers among those to be charged next week – Khemraj Ramjattan

Feb 25, 2017  Kaieteur News – By Brushell Blackman

Khemraj Ramjattan

Khemraj Ramjattan

Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan says that criminal charges will be brought against a number of officials including People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) former Government Ministers, next week.

In an interview with Kaieteur News, Ramjattan said that the Special Organised Crimes Unit (SOCU) has completed its investigation into the operations of the National Investment and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL).

He said that SOCU’s recommendations and that case file are now attracting the attention of the special prosecutors who are perusing the documents and will now recommend who is to be charged.    

When asked about the names of the suspected fraudsters who are on the cards for the court, Ramjattan said that although he knows who those persons are he was not going to disclose the information since he did not want to prejudice the investigation.

But he was adamant that a number of high ranking PPP/C officials will be hauled before the courts soon. Additionally, Ramjattan said that the former head of NICIL, Winston Brassington, has been fingered in corruption but said that the special prosecutors will address that as they deem necessary.

On the issue of the length of time it is taking to bring charges against suspected wrongdoers, the Minister said that a fraud investigation is very different from other investigations.
Noting that to investigate financial irregularities is ten times more difficult than a murder investigation, he was of the view that SOCU has been performing well even under these circumstances.

He stated that a paucity of staff at SOCU is another issue that is affecting the expediency of investigations and said that there is need for strengthening of the police force’s capacity to tackle such crimes.
The Minister said that persons need to have specialized training to function effectively in this field but the Guyana Police Force doesn’t have the complement of officers trained in this area.

To this end the Public Security Minister is asking for international assistance to aid the government in addressing this scourge. Ramjattan urged the United Kingdom to offer more help. This is in addition to the British fraud Expert Dr Sam Sittlington advising SOCU on these matters.
This investigation has its genesis in a forensic audit that was done upon the order of the APNU led government into the operations of NICIL who has long been suspected of questionable activities.

Chartered Accountant, Anand Goolsarran, discovered that in relation to the expenditure on the 2007 Cricket World Cup, NICIL had transferred amounts totalling $650 million to the Local Organizing Committee, but failed in its responsibility of ensuring that there was proper accountability for the amounts transferred.
With regards to the construction of a controversial property at 44 High Street in Georgetown, the forensic auditor found that the contract was awarded in 2007 but at the time of reporting, the building remained substantially incomplete. Goolsarran stated in his report that the building was abandoned, and the structure was expected to be torn down because the floors were not constructed to the required specifications.

He said that as the “Project Executing Unit”, NICIL’s role was to ensure that the works were executed according to the agreed specifications and had again failed to discharge its responsibility for this project, resulting in some $350 million of taxpayers’ funds being wasted.

Goolsarran in his report also stated that despite the size and complexity of its operations, NICIL does not have its own procurement rules, which is a key requirement of the Procurement Act. In the circumstances, he said that it would have been more appropriate for NICIL to involve the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) in the assessment of tenders received for the award of contracts.
Instead, the assessment of bids was done internally, and would have lacked the level of independence, especially for large projects such as the Marriott Hotel.

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  • guyaneseonline  On February 28, 2017 at 12:58 am

    CHARGES OF FRAUD PENDING
    Feb 27, 2017 Editorial – Kaieteur News

    Almost every day, the nation is being bombarded about the corrupt practices at NICIL and other state agencies, but after spending close to $200 million on audits, the government has not charged anyone of consequence. Several audit reports on NICIL have revealed that billions of dollars are either missing or unaccounted for. And even though the head of NICIL and his deputy have misled the nation on several financial transactions conducted by NICIL, they have been sent on leave without being prosecuted
    It seems that the audits will continue indefinitely. As reported, the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) is currently conducting 86 different investigations into NICIL. The government seems confused and appears to be backing down from its campaign promise to file charges against those allegedly involved in corruption. The audit reports on NICIL have found some major discrepancies about the reckless and corrupt use of billions of dollars on the Marriott Hotel without the benefit of a feasibility study to determine its economic and long-term viability. NICIL’s involvement in the Berbice Bridge is suspicious, and the use of public funds to develop the land at Pradoville Two which benefited an ex-president, ex-ministers and their friends, has violated Articles 216 and 217 of the Constitution and the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act. As the investigation into NICIL continues, many are wondering when it will end.
    Several audit reports have revealed that in the last fifteen years, the country’s procurement rules and regulations were blatantly abused by the last government. Many government departments did not follow the criteria in the Procurement Act. As a result, they discriminated against particular contractors and suppliers and awarded contracts to relatives and friends as opposed to the lowest evaluated bids. Their failure to adhere to the rules of the Procurement Act proved to be very costly to the country.
    Audit reports also found that poor procurement practices were deeply entrenched in almost every state agency. It paints a picture of chronic abuse of the system over the last decade and half. It is estimated that at least G$28 billion or US$140 M has been lost annually during the last decade due to the abuse of the procurement system. However, under this government, there has been less abuse of the Procurement Act.
    Based on the audits, there have been several instances of fraud and malpractices committed by the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), which has flouted the Procurement Act. The CEO did not follow the guidelines in the Procurement Act and instead made decisions that were inconsistent with the practice of bids and purchases, most of which were sole sourced. More troubling was the fact that most of the transactions conducted by the CEO of GO-Invest were not documented.
    From all indications, the Procurement Act 2003 was honored more in the breach than in adherence to the rules of the Act. Under the former CEO, GO-Invest had no accounting system in place to properly document its financial transactions such as purchases and payments of items. Given all the corrupt practices by NICIL, gross violations by government departments and agencies and the breaches of the Procurement Act by GO-Invest, yet there is no evidence that disciplinary action of any kind had been meted out to anyone by the last administration.
    The forensic audits launched by the government have provided evidence of the pilfering of state funds, but the perpetrators have not been charged. It is time for the government to prosecute those found culpable of alleged corruption. Justice must be done to prevent such abuse and lawlessness of state resources in the future. No one should be spared because of their status or wealth. Everyone should be prosecuted for wrongdoing. The average person is being incarcerated for petty crimes, but the elites who have embezzled billions of dollars are allowed to go free. However, as reported, charges of fraud against the former government officials including ministers are pending.

  • Albert  On February 28, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Minister Ramjattan is right. It is extremely difficult to get criminal convictions in these type of fraud cases. In addition to what was said most times Judges are not trained in basic accounting to fully understand what the financial information is telling them. They become frustrated and dismiss. Seen this in the US years back. Don’t be surprised if many of these cases in Guyana are thrown out.

    • London woman  On February 28, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      Police big disgrace so backward

      • London woman  On February 28, 2017 at 1:54 pm

        In fact they r a bunch of illiterate morons and the seniors are no better

  • Ron Saywack  On February 28, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Corruption and questionable conduct by government officials in Guyana have apparently been business as usual for the bulk of the post-colonial era.

    Author Shiva Naipaul wrote:

    “Burnham, on his way to a Conference of Nonaligned Nations held in Lusaka in 1970, writes a check for $50,000 that is handed over to President Nyerere of Tanzania for African freedom fighters. In the Caribbean, the People Revolutionary Government of Grenada was offered both money and Guyana army’s training facilities. Not to be ignored, he welcomed cult leader Jim Jones (who paid US$2 million to the government) …”

    It should be noted that bookkeeping for posterity, in an era of widespread electoral fraud, was not verifiably kept, which, naturally, leads to speculation.

    Q: How did the Burnham government arrive at U.S. $2 million for Jones’ settlement in pristine, virgin rainforest and why?

    Q: Where was the money deposited and for whom?

    Q: Was it placed in the government treasury?

    From the above article:

    “However, as reported, charges of fraud against the former government officials including ministers are pending.”

    In a democratic society, no one is above the law (nor should be) and if there is evidence to successfully pursue fraud charges, then, the alleged perpetrators should have their day in court to be dealt with accordingly.

  • Albert  On February 28, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    @saywack….”Author Shiva Naipaul wrote:
    “Burnham, on his way to a Conference of Nonaligned Nations held in Lusaka in 1970, writes a check for $50,000 that is handed over to President Nyerere of Tanzania for African freedom fighters. In the Caribbean, the People Revolutionary Government of Grenada was offered both money and Guyana army’s training facilities. Not to be ignored, he welcomed cult leader Jim Jones (who paid US$2 million to the government) …”

    None of this, if true, has much to do with fraud. or even corruption. If this is all Naipaul has on Burnham she has nothing….Love to read from anyone about significant money going into Burnham’s pocket. Who know about him, know he was no angel.

  • Ron Saywack  On March 1, 2017 at 6:11 am

    “None of this, if true, has much to do with fraud. or even corruption.”

    Do you still harbour lingering doubts about Jonestown and the fraudster who, in the name of his ‘god’, led nearly a thousand of his gullible compatriots to a horrible, unimaginable, untimely death? Or was the Peoples Temple just a conspiracy theory?… just wondering.

    What about electoral fraud in Guyana during the long, 21-year Burnham rule? Was it real or imagined?

  • Albert  On March 1, 2017 at 11:10 am

    “What about electoral fraud in Guyana during the long, 21-year Burnham rule? Was it real or imagined?’

    Not a defender of Burnham. I am asking about information showing money going into his pocket. No one seem to have any.

  • Ron Saywack  On March 1, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Linden Forbes Samson Burnham was exceptionally smart. He was as academic whiz, by all accounts; and he was certainly smart enough to wipe out all traces of incriminating evidence, in Houdini fashion.

    Anyone who watched the so-called ‘trial of the century’ with an open mind, or anyone armed with limited or extensive legal training, knows that O.J.Simpson murdered Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman in 1994. But was justice served after a lengthy trial the following year? Absolutely not! Simpson got away with murder, one hundred percent.

    Similarly, judicious Guyanese know deep in their hearts that Burnham, who made himself supreme ruler of the land for life, misappropriated large sums of money. But proving it is akin to finding a needle in a haystack, the man was that clever, arguably.

    Rakesh Rampertab wrote:

    “Ineptitude, corruption, and willful mismanagement (yearly audits neglected etc.)
    resulted in little production, forcing the government to turn to the IMF/World Bank by 1978. By the time of Burnham’s death, Guyana was some US$2 billion in arrears (US$150 million to Trinidad and US$100 million to Barbados).

    In addition, despite the lavish foreign tours Burnham undertook with enormous entourages and social projects that failed, millions remained unaccounted for by the PNC.”

  • Albert  On March 1, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    “despite the lavish foreign tours Burnham undertook with enormous entourages and social projects that failed, millions remained unaccounted for by the PNC.”

    The first part is true. He was an extravagant wasteful spender, but there is no evidence of millions of accounted funds. His family would have inherited some of it. Did they?
    The non-family individuals who knew the details of Burnham’s personal finance are all dead.

  • Ron Saywack  On March 1, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    “The non-family individuals who knew the details of Burnham’s personal finance are all dead.”

    This draws an eerie similarity to the Kennedy assassination. Who exactly was behind it? All the main protagonists are now dead. They cannot now be subpoenaed to the witness stand.

    A circular argument does not necessarily mean that Rampertab’s assertion is false. Perhaps the evidence is buried with the “non-family individuals”, just as the world may never exactly know who murdered #35.

    • Albert  On June 4, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Should have been more accurate. 1 or 2 of the non-family member hearts are still pumping.
      I could say with 95% accuracy that Burnham had no major unaccounted fortune. If we were drinking two beers together I would have given you details. Otherwise it serve no purpose.

  • Mohamed Zafar, Ontario & Guyanese Lawyer  On June 3, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    I fail to see why a diatribe concerning Guyana’s past – way back to President Burnham may have done or did could be of any use now, six years should be the farthest one should be surmising b/c going to far back becomes useless to many since most of Guyanese are under 50, many did not know Burnham or his deeds they grew up with Presidents Jagdeo, Ramotar and now Granger. Going farther back than Jagdeo would, in my humble view be like an insane person rattling off “nothings” which no one knows about or lived back then. Persons living must be given importance in our conjectures, in my humble view. History is not always the focus, CURRENT AFFAIRS is.

    • BRUCE From LONDON  On June 4, 2017 at 1:44 am

      It’s a bit late now when Burnham was running guyana like communist country. Let’s stick 2 finger up to Burnham in salute of all wickedness he did to people and country

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