S.O.C.U secures conviction… Extradited GRDB accountant gets 3 years for fraud

Peter Ramcharran,

Almost one year after being extradited from Canada to face fraud allegations amounting to G$414M, former accountant of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Peter Ramcharran, was yesterday sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. He was found guilty on one of the charges.

This is one of the first major convictions for the Special Organised Crime Unit (SSOCU), an arm of the Guyana Police Force, which instituted the charges against him.

Ramcharran was found guilty as charged by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan for omitting G$145M from the rice entity’s ledger.

The Chief Magistrate in giving a synopsis of her ruling held that SOCU Prosecutor Patrice Henry was able to prove all the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt.             

The Magistrate underscored that she is of the view that Ramcharran intended to willfully deprive the entity of the monies with his unlawful action.

During a plea in mitigation, Ramcharran’s lawyer, Nigel Hughes, sought to point out that his client’s actions had no ramifications on GRDB, the State or the Ministry of Agriculture.
In asking the court to exercise leniency with its punishment, Hughes said that his client has an unblemished criminal record and is “deeply remorseful” for what happened. In fact, the lawyer told the court that the monies were not stolen; they were just not recorded in the ledger.

In handing down the sentence, the Chief Magistrate took into consideration the fact that the defendant evaded the police for almost two years. She also considered the sum of monies involved and the prevalence of these types of offences in society.
Taking into account the abovementioned, the Chief Magistrate instituted the custodial sentence.

Throughout his trial, Ramcharran had been out on High Court bail. It was on March 6, 2019, that Ramcharran, 39, of Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara, made his first court appearance before Chief Magistrate McLennan following his extradition. He was slapped with 39 fraud-related charges.


The charges leveled against him alleged that he fraudulently converted and misappropriated funds. The offences, according to SOCU, took place between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2015, at GRDB’s Lot 16-17 Cowan Street, Kingston, Georgetown headquarters.

In relation to the other charges, Ramcharran returns to court on February 28, 2020 for trial. All the charges are related to his role at the GRDB. The rice entity was responsible for executing a major oil-for-rice deal worth billions of dollars with neighbouring Venezuela.

That deal ended suddenly in 2015 by a hostile Venezuela after this Coalition Government came into office. A forensic audit, one of several ordered by the Coalition Government, had found several alarming things at GRDB.
The GRDB found itself in the spotlight after a forensic audit of that entity revealed among some of the “anomalies” found were loans without proper paperwork or promissory notes. According to information, the former accountant was heavily implicated in the probe with regards to the six former GRDB board members who were also charged.

The officials charged are former General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) Jagnarine Singh; former Deputy General Manager of GRDB Madanlall Ramraj; General Secretary of the Producers Association (RPA), Dharamkumar Seeraj; former Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Nigel Dharamlall; former General Manager of the Guyana Oil Company Badrie Persaud and the Deputy Permanent Secretary Finance Ministry of Agriculture, Prema Roopnarine.

From about 2009 to 2015, Guyana, under the administration of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, had entered a multi-billion-dollar oil-for-rice arrangement where GRDB was clearing out for farmers.

However, millions of dollars of those monies were reportedly siphoned off via third-party arrangements including rental of ships and other sweetheart deals for a few millers.

In Canada, Ramcharran had first applied for refugee status. After he was turned down in December 2017, he sought a review of his extradition process, but this was turned down.

Ramcharran had reportedly been studying in Canada, when authorities swooped down on him in June 2017 following a request for his extradition.

With regards to extraditions, it is not often that Guyana is successful in its quests from especially North American countries. The extradition of Ramcharran would be seen as a huge plus for authorities here who have been insisting that it is a tool in the fight against crime, particularly of the white-collar variety. (Renay Sambach)

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Comments

  • kamtanblog  On February 13, 2020 at 4:19 am

    Interesting article/read.
    Misappropriation of public funds…
    you go to jail
    Do not pass go
    Do not collect $200

    Question
    Will monies “not recorded” be recovered
    or it goes into another “black hole”..,

    Just asking

    Kamtan

  • Curtis  On February 13, 2020 at 9:51 am

    Mr. Hughes, the lawyer for Ramcharran stated to the Magistrate that the monies were not stolen, it was just not recorded in the Ledger. Mr. Hughes must be a total moron. That statement alone was enough to convict Ramcharran. He better get a new lawyer to defend him against the other charges that are coming his way.

  • Clyde Duncan  On February 16, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Now – Now, Curtis:

    LAWYER: Now sir, I’m sure you are an intelligent and honest man–
    WITNESS: Thank you. If I weren’t under oath, I’d return the compliment.

    Here is more:

    https://www.boredpanda.com/funny-court-reports-disorder-in-court/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic

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