Monthly Archives: May 2014

CFATF to rule on possible blacklisting…

Attorney General Mr. Anil Nandlall

Guyana to know fate today

THE Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) will make its ruling today on the fate of the country, in relation to the possibility of it being referred to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), for review by the body’s International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG).This was according to Attorney-General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, in a telephone interview last evening.
Minister Nandlall maintained his assertion that Guyana, already blacklisted regionally by CFATF, is most likely to be referred to the international body, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force.
CFATF blacklisted Guyana regionally last November, at its 38th plenary meeting, issuing a missive which called for its members to “consider implementing counter measures to their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks” emanating from Guyana.
“From all indications it does not look optimistic and Guyana’s referral to FATF by CFATF appears to be a virtual certain,” Nandlall said, in a prior interview.
The AG stated that 90 per cent of the deficiencies in the local Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework, which were identified by CFATF are legislative in nature.
While Government contends that these deficiencies were wholly addressed in the AML/CFT Amendment Bill, it has still not received the support of the combined Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), both of whom have attached conditions in exchange for their support.
APNU has proposed three amendments that proffer a change to the entire governing apparatus of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU); removal of the Attorney General wherever that name appears and replacement of it with the FIU and vesting a Police or Customs Officer with the power to seize currency from any person, anywhere in Guyana, if those officers have reason to believe that it is the proceeds of crime or will be used to fund criminal activities. The party is also calling for President Donald Ramotar to assent to Bills passed in the National Assembly, through the Opposition’s one-seat majority, but the Head of State has explained that they are unconstitutional.
The AFC, which has expressed support for APNU’s position, is demanding the establishment of the PPC (Public Procurement Commission), which Government has agreed to, providing that Cabinet retains its no-objection role in the process; but the latter position has been rejected by the AFC.
With neither of the two Parliamentary Opposition parties budging on their positions, the Attorney-General, on behalf of the Government, earlier this month forwarded counter-proposals in the interest of ensuring that the amendments made are CFATF compliant and to move towards a compromise.
These counter-proposals are being considered by the Parliamentary Select Committee, which has been reviewing the AML/CFT Bill for more than 12 months and held its most recent meeting last Thursday, May 22.
If the Committee were to complete its work before the next scheduled sitting of the National Assembly, June 19, the Financial Action Task Force’s next Plenary meeting is slated for June 23 to 25, 2014 in Paris, France.

(By Vanessa Narine)

 

 

The Court is supreme adjudicator of any nation

THE cuts to the National Budget that were imposed on the nation in contravention of the Constitution, so ruled by the Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang, twice, is having severe deleterious impacts on the nation’s working-class, with utilities being cut off, mortgages unpaid, resulting in dire threat to loss of homes; and even feeding children has become a challenge in many homes because many workers cannot be paid as a result of cuts to their agencies or departments.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall has been vindicated by the verdict of Chief Justice (ag), Ian Chang, who reinforced his 2012 verdict in the cutting of the 2012 Budget (in a 2014 ruling that upheld his primary findings), that the National Assembly has no power under the Constitution to reduce the National Estimates.
Immediately after exiting the first hearing AG Nandlall informed the media corps that had been encamped for hours outside the deliberative chambers on the verdict of the preliminary ruling, whereby the Chief Justice stated that the National Assembly “performs a gate-keeping function and that a power of disapproval is not contemplated by the Constitution” relative to the National Estimates.
Government was forced to make application to the Supreme Court for an Interim Order to allow the Minister of Finance to access monies that was cut from the National Budget by the political parliamentary Opposition, which the CJ’s pronouncement now facilitates.

However, the Opposition, which comprises lawyers au fait with the constitution and whom are astute enough to be aware that the budget cuts in parliament had breached the constitution, were prepared for just such a ruling and immediately subsequent to the pronouncement on the matter in the first instance by the CJ, Senior Counsel, Rex McKay submitted an application for a stay of execution for the amended order.
However, Nandlall’s objection to McKay’s was allowed by the CJ, after hearing arguments on both sides.
Speaking to the media at the High Court immediately after the ruling, the AG expressed his pleasure at eventually being vindicated by the Court’s ruling.
He explained that the CJ’s verdict ruled that in cutting the 2012 National Estimates and Expenditures, the National Assembly acted outside of the Constitution.
The AG informed that the CJ’s ruling determines the right of the Minister of Finance to form an opinion as to whether or not he needs additional monies relative to the estimates and to withdraw the money and then seek Parliamentary approval if he forms that opinion. This, he said, is outlined in the Constitution and the Financial Management and Accountability Act.

These were the contentions upon which the Attorney General had premised his arguments, and the Court justified and upheld his pleadings. As Nandlall explained: “…the court proceeds to say that the Minister of Finance is resided with the power, under the Constitution and the law, to withdraw from the Contingency and the Consolidated Funds, whenever the minister has formed the opinion that there is a need to do so, and that is what the law says.”
He drew attention to page 17 of the judgement, reading verbatim: “Applying that doctrine to the interpretation of article 218, it does appear to the court that it was not permissible for the National Assembly to cut or to reduce the estimates and expenditures to any particular figure since, in so doing, the National Assembly was both determining and approving such estimates. If the drafters of the Constitution had wanted the National Assembly to exercise such a power, they would have easily conferred such a power on it in the Constitution in express terms as was done in India – see Article 113 (2) of the Constitution of India; or Australia.”
The preliminary pronouncement of the Court that the reduction is unconstitutional was underlined by Nandlall, “….the minister (of Finance) is now free to exercise his statutory and constitutional powers which allow him to withdraw from the Consolidated and/or the Contingency Funds for the purpose of funding agencies where he feels that there has been an insufficient allocation made.”
The Court is the supreme adjudicator of any nation and it is incumbent upon the citizenry to heed the laws of the land: but how can it be justifiable for criminals to be punished when the framers and makers of those laws are intent on disregarding those laws for self-empowerment and self-aggrandisement agendas, despite the devastation it would visit upon the lives of the citizens of the land, including their own constituencies?
But this question was answered by one Opposition leader who said that the victims of the unconstitutional Budget cuts are merely “collateral damage.”
So when babies go hungry and children become homeless the explanation is simple: They have become collateral damage to the collective Opposition’s un-constitutional budget cuts.

No evidence prison staff allowed entry of weapons used in recent attack

THE police are leading the investigations into the unrest and violence which occurred at the New Amsterdam Prisons last Friday evening.

A source close to the investigation told this publication yesterday that, so far, the police have been able to question both prisoners and prison officers at the facility.
Chronicle was also informed that the investigators did revisit the prisons yesterday where more statements were taken from persons who were present when the incident occurred and who are responsible for various layers of security at the facility.
Meanwhile, another source at the prisons related that while the police are conducting the general investigations, they have already launched their own internal probe.
The main part of the investigation will be to determine how the choppers and corrosive substance got behind the prison walls and into the hands of the prisoners.
It is understood that the four prisoners who were injured in the attack are among the most dangerous of the high profile prisoners at the facility.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, in a statement yesterday, assured that the matter will be fully investigated.
Those injured in the attack were Clarence Williams, Kwame Bhagwandin, Abdussalim Azemulla and Davindra Harrichand.
On Tuesday, the injured prisoners told reporters that the four men who attacked them were encouraged to do so by prison officers. They claimed that the prison officers knew fully well that their lives were in danger but did nothing to address the concerns.
Last week Friday the four injured prisoners were rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital for medical attention after the attack. Some were treated for acid burns while others had chop wounds.
Over the years, several prison officers have been hauled before the courts accused of facilitating the entry of illicit items into the facility.

(By Leroy Smith)

Police narcotics rank remanded on drugs-related offenses

TWENTY-FOUR-year-old Ian Johnson, a rank of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) attached to the Canine Section of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Narcotics Branch, and stationed at Ogle International Airport, appeared yesterday before Magistrate Sueanna Lovell at the Sparendaam court and was remanded to prison until June 13 on two narcotics charges.

Johnson pleaded not guilty to both charges, one of which alleges that
on Wednesday, May 21, at Ogle International Airport, he had in his possession 5.574 kilogrammes (kgs) of cannabis sativa (marijuana) for the purpose of trafficking.

The other charge states that Johnson also had, on the day in question, 2.286 kg of cocaine to traffick.

Johnson’s attorney, Ms. Gwendolyn Bristol, failed to secure bail for her client.

Nineteen-year-old Anastasia Latoya Crawford of Lot 29 Fort Street, Kingston was also remanded to prison last Wednesday in relation to this same drug bust at Ogle International Airport, East Coast Demerara.

Police investigations revealed that prior to Crawford committing the offence, Johnson and Mark ‘Polo’ had visited her at her home in Kinston, where arrangements had been made. On the day Crawford was busted, Johnson had allegedly been monitoring her via her cell phone. He had been contacting her and instructing her ‘who to go to’.

Crawford had revealed his name to investigators, and she had also positively identified him. A confrontation had been arranged, but Johnson had strongly denied the allegation.

(By Geeta Rampersaud)

Minibus conductor, businessman charged for drug possession

A minibus conductor of Victoria, East Coast Demerara and a businessman from East Ruimveldt, Georgetown were yesterday remanded to prison, after they appeared before Magistrate Fabayo Azore on separate drug related charges.
The defendants, Eucland Frank, 26 and Jason Cummings, 31, were allegedly found in possession of 2.5 grammes of cocaine and one gram of Ecstasy tablets, respectively.
Both defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges
According to the allegations, on Monday at Hadfield Street Georgetown, Frank was found with the cocaine tucked in the waist of his pants during a search, which was conducted by the police on mobile patrol.
The police allegedly found the prohibited drug in Cummings’ pants pocket, while he was in the vicinity of East Ruimveldt, Georgetown, on Saturday.
Both men were represented by Attorney-at-Law, Paul Fung-A-Fat, who requested bail on the grounds that the drugs were not found on his clients or in their possession.
Fung-A-Fat contended that the drug said to be Frank’s were found in a yard on Hadfield Street.
In regards to Cummings, the lawyer argued that the drug was found in a taxi in which there were three other persons.
However, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Deneshwer Mahendranaught, objected to bail on the grounds that no special reason was given to the court for Frank to be placed on bail.
The Assistant Superintendent of Police also argued that Cummings along with others were in a taxi when it was stopped at a roadblock, and a search was carried out on the occupants of the car.  The Ecstasy tablets were found in his pants pocket.
Bail was refused for both defendants who will now return to Court on June 12.

Too much illegal guns in the Region – UN official

- as locals undergoing training to combat trafficking in firearms, ammunition and explosives

“The United States is not in a position to lecture anyone on how to prevent illicit firearms trafficking…” Deputy US Ambassador

Local legal practitioners are undergoing specialized training to make them more equipped to combat the illicit trafficking in firearms, ammunition and explosives.
The three-day training programme which is being held at the Police Officers Training Centre, Eve Leary, is sponsored by the government of the United States of America in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
The 24 participants who are drawn from the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Forensics

UNLIREC’s Juliet Solomon addressing the opening of the training programme on combating illicit trafficking in firearms, ammunition and explosives

Laboratory, the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, will have the opportunity of expending their knowledge in all the different aspects of small arms control, from weapons classifications and definition, legal frameworks, investigative techniques for firearms proliferation, armed violence and forensic ballistics among others.
The training could not have come at a better time, since according to Juliet Solomon, Senior Programme Director (Caribbean) for the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), the main objective is to reduce the proliferation of firearms within the Region.
“In recent years, the number of firearms in circulation and the devastating consequences of improper or illegal use represent one of the biggest concerns for many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The direct and indirect human and material cost of all the violence represents a significant portion of the gross domestic product of states in this region,” Solomon told yesterday’s opening ceremony.
She explained that the easy access to illicit weapons, ammunition and explosives affects the livelihood of communities beyond national borders, and it is closely linked to other illegal activities such as drugs and human trafficking and organized crime.
To this end, she said that preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms, ammunition and explosives is one of the most persistent challenges of the public security and development agenda of the United Nations.
Solomon said that given the transnational nature of this problem, it is essential to increase international cooperation in this area.
According to Solomon, the UN Regional Human Development Report on Citizens’ Security highlights high deficits in the justice system in Latin America and the Caribbean and this is reflected in crime and insecurity.
“Strengthening legal mechanisms and building security and justice sector capacities, such as ongoing training for judges’ prosecutors and police investigators should be considered an essential tool to ensure the quality and efficiency of criminal investigations,” she said.
She said that in order to meet this specific need in the field of legal practitioners, UNLIREC developed the specialized training course, which is aimed at supporting the implementation of the international firearms instrument as well as reducing impunity of firearms related offences.
Guyana’s Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee, who delivered the key note address, reminded the audience that his government remains committed to peace disarmament and development, a commitment which dates back way beyond when the People’s Progressive Party/CIVIC came into office in 1992.
He said that disarmament both at the national and international levels is a foundation principle to which the government of Guyana is committed, since disarmament would impact positively on peace and development.
The Minister said that it is this context that Guyana became a signatory to many of the protocols and conventions of the United Nations to demonstrate its commitment to the UN Charter.
“It is further in manifestation of this commitment that we have signed on to the Convention in respect to the illegal trafficking in firearms….and only recently in the national assembly the motion was passed and later on signed into an act,” Rohee stated.
He however, acknowledged the challenge that faces Guyana with its porous multiple borders, and he welcomed the assistance of the United States Government and other multinational agencies.
But these challenges, he said, are being undermined by the position taken by the local judiciary with regards to persons who are charged under the firearms act, granting bail to such persons who commit crimes with illegal firearms.
“We do not look for concubinage with the judiciary; what we look for is a balance between pretrial liberty of individuals who have been charged with commission of a gun crime and the human rights of the victims. It is important that this balance be taken into consideration and the balance be struck between those who seek pre trial liberty through the courts and the victims who have suffered physical damage or economic losses,” the Home Affairs Minister declared.
Rohee welcomed the training, which he said, will always be a work in progress for law enforcement in any field of its mandate.
Juliet Solomon disclosed that the current training activity is part of a broader assistance package which the agency has been providing to the government of Guyana since 2013 with the support of the United States of America.
“As the regional arm of the UN office of disarmament affairs, UNLIREC is willing with the support of the donor community to continue providing assistance to Guyana in its efforts to reduce gun crimes and strengthen public security,” she said.
Deputy US Ambassador to Guyana, Bryan Hunt, noted that security is one of the main areas of cooperation between his government and the government of Guyana.
He said that there is no question that illicit arms trafficking is a global problem and the United States is not insulated from the violence that is derived from the proliferation of firearms.
Hunt reminded the audience of the recent shooting at the University of Southern California, pointing out that gun violence is a problem that the entire international community has to work together to combat.
“ The United States is not in a position to lecture anyone on how to prevent illicit firearms trafficking and I would never presume to do so, which is why I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to bring the experts from UNLIREC here to engage directly with the stakeholders in Guyana to offer an international perspective on the best strategies that can be used collectively to investigate, successfully prosecute and to bring to justice those who choose to engage in gun violence and the trafficking of illicit firearm ammunition and explosives,” the US diplomat said.
He said that the course is a model for inter-agency collaboration which is tremendously important when dealing with important cross-cutting societal problems.

Power-lifting champ arrested at JFK with cocaine in stomach

National power lifting champion, Colin Aubrey Chesney, also known as “Mr. Clean” remains in police custody in the United States after he was busted at the John.F.Kennedy (JFK) airport with cocaine.

Colin Chesney during a power lifting session (file photo)

Chesney was detained on Saturday just as he arrived at JFK on a Caribbean Airlines flight from Guyana.
According to a copy of the court complaint document Kaieteur News was able to access, Chesney knowingly swallowed cocaine.
The document stated that on May 24 customs agents approached Chesney and requested to inspect him. During the inspection, Chesney appeared “unusually nervous. Specifically, the defendant was physically shaking and sweating heavily.”
As a result of this reaction, “Mr. Clean” was taken to a private room for a secondary search where he was found to be ‘not so clean.’
It was during that search that the nervous Guyanese sportsman told Customs Inspectors that he had swallowed “foreign bodies”.
Kaieteur News understands that Chesney was taken to a medical facility at the JFK Airport after he gave written consent for an x-ray to be conducted on him. This confirmed what the bodybuilder had earlier revealed. The x-ray of his intestinal tract showed that “foreign bodies” were lodged there.
Chesney subsequently passed 33 pellets, one of which was probed and found to contain a “white powdery substance” which was positively tested as cocaine.
He was then placed under arrest but kept in the medical facility at JFK, since investigators believe there may be more cocaine pellets in his body.
Chesney is expected to remain in the facility until he passes all of the pellets believed to be in his intestinal tract.
When contacted yesterday, President of the Guyana Amateur Power lifting Federation, Peter Green said that Chesney was not in the USA to, in anyway, represent the federation.
He said he could not comment any further as he needs to “read about what’s really happening…de chap didn’t live here nor dwell here so I don’t know why every news agency calling me…I feel like an oracle.”
Meanwhile, agents of the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit yesterday afternoon arrested a female U.S citizen at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) after in excess of six pounds of cocaine was found in frozen fish which was in her suitcases.
The woman, who has not been identified, was an outgoing passenger on a New York bound Caribbean Airlines flight when she was searched.
Kaieteur News understands that the woman was arrested and taken into police custody.

Murder accused dies in jail one day after being remanded

The 49-year-old man who murdered the 19-year-old mother of his child and then drank a dose of poison died in jail, yesterday, one day after he was remanded to the penal institution.

Robert Sandy

Robert Sandy, called ‘Jug’, who was a carpenter of Mai Mai Dam, Angoy’s Avenue, New Amsterdam, stabbed Oneka Greaves, the 19-year-old mother of one of his children to death on the evening of May 19, last, before ingesting poison. He was subsequently hospitalized in the New Amsterdam Hospital under guard.
He was discharged on May 26 and taken into police custody. On Tuesday, he appeared before Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus at the New Amsterdam Magistrate’s Court and was not required to enter a plea to the indictable offence. Sandy was remanded to jail and placed into the prison infirmary where he fell ill. The man was removed from the prison and taken to the New Amsterdam hospital where he was admitted under guard.
Sandy was subsequently discharged from the institution hours after, and was returned to the New Amsterdam prison. Prison authorities, whilst making regular round in the jail, discovered him dead on the floor around 05:15 hrs.
Sandy was accused of brutally stabbing the woman after she allegedly spurned him.  The man, who had four grown children – aged 25, 23, 21 and 18, was reportedly upset that the young lady had told him that they should end the relationship since she wanted to move on with her life.
She had endured what was said to be an abusive relationship.  He was also peeved when he learnt that she was seeing someone else.
The man had given a statement that he and Oneka Greaves were together since she was 14 years.
A post mortem examination conducted by Dr. Vivekanand Brijmohan at the New Amsterdam hospital showed that Greaves died from shock and haemorrhage due to multiple incised wounds and damage to vital organs including her kidney. She also sustained incised wounds to the spine, pancreas and diaphragm.
Robert Sandy was expected to return to court on June 26.
A release from the police stated that Robert Sandy died yesterday, at the New Amsterdam Prison.

Police, Prison authorities find more weapons at New Amsterdam Prison

As investigation continues into the brutal chopping of the four prisoners in the New Amsterdam Prison on Friday by a fellow inmate, authorities have upped their surveillance and searches of the penal institution.
On Tuesday, the police and prison officers conducted a joint search of the prison to look for illegal items. During the search they found a cutlass which was starting to rust and seemed to be in the prison for some time, improvised cellular phone chargers, cellular phone batteries, sharpened spoons and other improvised weapons.
The law enforcement authorities were expected to return yesterday afternoon to continue their investigations into the brutal attack and their search for illegal items. It is understood that most of the illegal items were hidden in a section of the prison called ‘the Wall’.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs has launched a full investigation into the fracas in the prison that resulted in injury to several inmates last Friday.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Ministry informed that at approximately 17:40 hours on Friday, four inmates at the New Amsterdam Prison were admitted to the New Amsterdam Hospital after they were attacked by four other inmates.
The injured, Clarence Williams, Kwame Bhagwandin, Abdussalim Azemulla and Davindra Harrichand, were subsequently transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital where they are receiving full medical attention.
According to the Ministry, initial reports suggest that a prison officer was checking the security of the cells, when it was alleged that he was attacked by an inmate who took away the keys, opened several cells of his associates and proceeded to attack and injure the inmates.

Guyana is China’s spy playground

The Caricom-related nations of Guyana and Jamaica are probably the Caribbean’s leading benefactors of Chinese investments, and arguably the region’s principal users of mostly counterfeit technology out of Beijing.
But few would realize that their respective relations with China are mostly a by-product of something more sinister and dangerous that even mere common sense would not be able to comprehend.
From the computer units used by every Government department, to Guyana’s One Laptop Per Family Project, the Chinese Government-planted Hubber Spy Worm has certainly given China a firm clandestine hold on every single keystroke, email, and communication emanating from the Guyanese Government, and even that of its citizens.
This spy tool, along with a Chinese dedicated propaganda news channel broadcasting from Georgetown, has now given Beijing a firm grip over the national security, social, economic and diplomatic affairs of Guyana; and by extension, a larger section of the English speaking Caribbean Community.
While a greater number of other Caricom member states also trade with Beijing and use their Government-funded gadgets, their dependency on Chinese technology is way lower than Guyana or Jamaica. Hence their ICT security risk is somewhat reduced, though not insulated.
But by itself, Guyana is probably China’s main regional economic playground, communication harvesting hub, and largest but unwitting host of HUB 79; – a Chinese Government-backed cyber-army in the Caribbean.
Strangled by accusations of rampant corruption, a parallel underground economy and political nepotism, Guyana opportunistically became the ideal candidate for the Chinese Government regional spy hub and an epicenter for information harvesting, more than five years ago.
According to Rabin Seth, a retired Israeli intelligence officer whose Government has been busy uncovering a map of China’s cyber warfare hubs; – the primary objective of Hub 79 (in Guyana) is to dig into the computers of Guyanese Government officials, the Caricom secretariat, diplomatic missions, media houses, journalists, politicians, diplomatic officials, military personnel, and similar units, to retrieve all information that can advance China’s economic, trade, security, and military interest.
He added that the Chinese government-funded Datang Group purchase of shares in Guyana’s main telecommunication service provider, GT&T, was no accident, neither is the presence of Huawei Technologies in that country’s eGovernance Project a coincidence.
He reminded this publication that several countries, including the United States, has banned Huawei from their respective Government projects, since the company was repeatedly classified as a Chinese Government intelligence tool, and a serious threat to many countries national security.
But being technologically docile, and lacking the availability of even a single qualified ICT Security Engineer, Guyana would probably never be able to detect, much more to deter China’s continued spying on its entire technological infrastructure.
After all, the United States itself has already warned the Caribbean about the scope and degree of Beijing’s cyber army, and has even issued wanted bulletins for several Chinese Government officials for thousands of spy attacks on U.S technological interest over the past few months alone.
However, even with those warnings, countries like Guyana and Jamaica continue to toe the technology line unguarded, but had never stopped to wonder how the Chinese Government could have known that either nation needs a deep water harbour or an expanded airport, long before they even asked Beijing for funding. (Epoch Times)