Audit cases hindered by fearful witnesses – Ramjattan

first_img– contradicts president’s statement on insufficient evidencePublic Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan said Monday that moves to prosecute persons who were said to be culpable of financial transgressions discovered by audits is being slowed by fearful witnesses, a statement which starkly contradicts previous utterances of President David Granger, who had declared that the audits provided insufficient evidence to support prosecution, according to the Government information Agency (GINA).Ramjattan, made the comment on Monday at the Golden Jubilee, National Symposia Series, underway at the Arthur Chung International Convention Centre (ACICC), after he was asked about the apparent lack of prosecutions and sloth in prosecuting errant public officials named in the audits.However, he assured that government was profound on bringing those responsible for impropriety to justice:“Minister (Jennifer) Westford has been charged and that’s pending. The trial is going on as I understand. There is somebody with her who has been charged. The fellow from GPL, Aeshwar Deonarine has been charged and Mr Carvil Duncan has been charged, prosecution is going on there. We have asked the Canadian Royal Mounted Police to find Mr Aeshwar Deonarine (former Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Administration), they are going to find him soon and he is going to be sent back here,” the GINA quoted Ramjattan as saying.Ramjattan stated that a number of the audits made recommendations that there should be police investigations, however the absence of a witness protection programme locally is confounding the prosecution’s efforts.“A lot of the witnesses that gave their evidence to the auditors are scared like hell to give their evidence to the police now, knowing that those fellows that they might bring to court, know that they can suffer at their hands,” he stated.Ramjattan said while government will not force persons to testify in court, he made clear government’s position on the audits: “This administration will never allow stolen monies to remain with those who have stolen those monies. We are going to get them back, and that is why we have set up this SARU (State Assets Recovery Unit).”ContradictionHowever, the vice president’s comments conflict President Granger’s previous pronouncements that there is insufficient evidence for prosecution.President Granger, during his weekly telecast, “The Public Interest” on Friday said that despite several of the audits point to corrupt practices, prosecution will be difficult since the evidence may be lacking or the persons culpable may have already left the jurisdiction or are citizens of other countries, making the process an arduous one.The President said the main function of some of these reports is to prevent recurrence or the continuation of any improper or corrupt practice: “Where the evidence is available, we will do prosecutions in the court, but we don’t want to use those audits as a sort of tool for witch-hunting.”The government spent a whopping $113 million on these audits and was confident it will unearth evidence of mass corruption and siphoning of state funds by the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration. However, the PPP/C has always maintained there is no evidence to suggest that persons were engaging in corruption.????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????last_img read more