Georgetown. Guyana: Criminal proceedings against Town Clerk, other city officials – CoI Report

Terminate, begin immediate criminal proceedings against Town Clerk, other city officials – CoI Report …recommends SARA trace and recover assets

Royston KIng

A probe has found grounds to terminate embattled Town Clerk, Royston King, and institute criminal proceedings against him.

The explosive findings are contained in the final report from the Commission of Inquiry into the operations of City Hall. The report was handed over yesterday by Chairman of the CoI, Justice Cecil Kennard (ret’d) to Chairman of the Local Government Commission (LGC), Mortimer Mingo.      

The report obtained by Kaieteur News indicated that several senior officers be terminated for their poor management of the affairs of the city; and that where irregularities are found, criminal investigation and charges be laid against defaulting officers.

In light of the findings, the COI recommends that there be further investigations in the form of a forensic audit to be conducted by the Audit Office of Guyana.

Former Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green

The report calls for officers to be disciplined even as that audit is being conducted.
The senior officers listed included, King, who was sent on leave to facilitate the CoI. King is cited for gross misconduct, abuse of office, recklessness, dishonesty, conspiracy, and misappropriation of funds.

Also listed in the report are Acting Town Clerk, Sharon Harry-Munroe who is cited for dereliction of duty and incompetence; Assistant Town Clerk, Sherry Jerrick for dereliction of duty and incompetence; Internal Auditor, Omodele Umojo-Newton for incompetence and conspiracy; Chief Constable, Andrew Foo for dereliction of duty and incompetence; Human Resources Manager, Paulette Braithwaite for incompetence; City Engineer, Colvern Venture for incompetence and dereliction of duty; and Rashid Kelman for conspiracy.

Chief Constable, Andrew Foo

Further, the report noted that City Treasurer, Ron Mc Calmon should proceed on early retirement as he is unwell.

Kennard posited that it would only be fair that the COI recommend a detailed forensic audit be done into all transactions between April 1, 2015, and October 31, 2018.

“I have found that there is prima facie evidence to support skulduggery. Moreover, where there is evidence of such activities, criminal and or civil proceedings should commence forthwith,” Kennard outlined.

As it relates to King, the CoI report stated that while it is ‘the easiest of recommendation to make’, he should be terminated, and criminal charges should be laid against him in respect of his actions.
The report recommends that the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA) and the Guyana Police Force should lead a joint probe to ascertain the relevant criminal charge(s) to be laid.

Acting Town Clerk, Sharon Harry-Munroe

In the alternative, the report noted that there are civil remedies; the (LGC) can approach the Court to grant orders to trace his assets and at the same time, freeze same.

According to the report, the Town Clerk and other officers including former Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green appeared to have committed the tort of misfeasance and should be dealt with in that context.

The CoI found that documents it received indicated that contracts were awarded to friends and associates of key officials of the Council, such as the son of the Mayor, the son of the Chairman of the Finance sub-committee, the friend of the son of the Mayor, Ingrid and Brian Chase, who were embroiled in a land saga with the Town Clerk, and friends of the Town Clerk and the Mayor.

Further, it also appeared from documents seen by the COI, which were provided by the Acting City Treasurer that the Town Clerk was reckless, in granting leases to several persons for below fair market prices.
In some cases, he rented these lands for no fees to businessmen who can afford.

“This to my mind is a fundamental breach of his duty of care for the Council, particularly given the state of the Council’s finances. This further warrants investigation and I believe the auditors of the State Asset Recovery Agency should be called in to probe further, the issuing of leases and contracts to ascertain whether the Town Clerk and other officers are benefiting from perquisite of office,” the CoI report stated.

Kennard stated that it appears that the Town Clerk has been acting beyond the scope of his Terms of Reference (TOR).
“He seemed to be doing the work of the Treasurer, Engineer and HR Manager,” the report found.

The report found that it is difficult to ascertain whether the Council follows any of their regulations.
Further, the report found that it seems as if Standard Operating Procedures are for window dressing purposes, as they are seldom followed.

In fairness to some of these officers, the report stated that they are afraid to voice their objection to carrying out a certain task because of fear of reprisals.

“This Council has shown to these workers what actions they are prepared to take if they do not comply,” the report stated.
The report noted the case of Edwana Miller who was the Accounting Manager, but was transferred to the Markets Department in what can only be described as a demotion.
Since the report has now been handed over to the LGC, it will be up to the Commissioners to determine the next steps.

Source: Kaieteur News – December 1. 2018

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s