DPP appeals dismissal of theft charges against PPP’s Westford, former Chief Personnel Officer

DPI, Guyana, Monday, September 3, 2018

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has filed an appeal against the dismissal of the over $600Million theft charges against former Public Service Minister, Jennifer Westford and the ministry’s former Chief Personnel Officer, Margaret Cummings.

The notice of appeal was filed in the Court of Appeal on August 30, following the dismissal of the charges against the duo on August 24, by Chief Magistrate, Judy Latchman.

Former Minister of Public Service, Jennifer Westford and Margaret Cummings.

In handing down the ruling, Magistrate Latchman said there was no evidence to show that the money was not used for its intended purposes.

The two were arraigned on February 1, 2016, on 24 charges alleging they stole more than $600Million from the Government of Guyana.

They were both granted $200,000 bail on each charge, which amounted to a total of $4.8 million.

It is alleged that Westford, who is also a PPP Member of Parliament, between 2011- 2015 signed 24 memorandums amounting to $639,420,000 for the conduct of activities in the ten administrative regions, which were signed and approved by the Permanent Secretary at the then Office of the President.

However, investigations revealed that there was no documentation to show how the millions of dollars were spent and the money was not recovered.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC., when asked about the case, reminded that neither his ministry nor the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) are prosecutorial bodies and that the final decision rests with the courts.

President David Granger at his August 31, press conference also noted that “It is not the business of the Ministry of Legal Affairs to prosecute people, the Minister of Legal Affairs is concerned with public law rather than criminal charges.”

He further stated that the role of SOCU and the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) involves investigating and building strong cases to be tried in the courts. The courts’ decision, however, is final.

By: Stacy Carmichael.

Image: Guyana Chronicle.

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