As the Guyana Police Force (GPF) continues its investigations into attempts to rig the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield was on Saturday arrested by ranks of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
Police Public Relations Officer, Assistant Commander Royston Andries-Junor in a statement on Saturday said that “Police investigators arrested Mr Lowenfield and put several allegations to him in the presence of his attorney… at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown.”
It was noted that after being told of the allegations of criminal conduct by him and others post the March 2, 2020 elections, Lowenfield exercised his right to remain silent.
“Thereafter, a confrontation was held between him and a witness, and once again, Mr Lowenfield opted to remain silent,” the police said.
Nevertheless, they noted that having concluded other aspects of the investigative process, the Chief Elections Officer was released on station bail on the condition that he report to the CID Headquarters on Monday, September 28, 2020.
Meanwhile, the police are continuing their investigations.
Last month, the police said it was launching a probe after “formal reports” were received alleging “criminal conduct” by Lowenfield and embattled Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, as well as others, in relation to the elections and the events that followed thereafter.
The CEO is accused of attempting to undermine the will of the people by repeatedly refusing to submit the verified results from the National Recount to Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice Claudette Singh, for a final declaration.
The National Recount exercise showed that the PPP/C won the elections with 233,336 votes. But Lowenfield had repeatedly refused to submit his final elections report with those figures despite being so directed by the GECOM Chair on several occasions. He eventually complied, paving the way for the declaration and subsequent swearing-in of the new Government.
Legal advice was obtained from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the police were advised to launch a comprehensive investigation into these allegations in accordance with its mandate. The police have since arrested and charged several GECOM staff including RO Mingo.
However, even as the police probe is ongoing, Lowenfield is already facing three private criminal charges for conspiracy to commit fraud and breach of trust in public office that were filed by private citizens Desmond Morian and Josh Kanhai, who is a member of The New Movement (TNM) party. The CEO was arraigned back in July and placed on $450,000 bail.
The charge filed by Kanhai alleges that Lowenfield, between March 5 and June 23, 2020, conspired with person(s) unknown to commit the common law offence of fraud when he submitted his Election Report dated June 23 which included figures that altered the results of the elections.
Meanwhile, Morian is contending that Lowenfield, while performing his duties as CEO of GECOM, ascertained the results of the March 2 elections “knowing the said results to be false”, the said wilful misconduct amounting to a breach of the public’s trust in the office of the CEO.
Morian subsequently filed a third charge contending that Lowenfield conspired with a person or persons unknown to use Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo’s fraudulent figures to prepare a report that was submitted to GECOM Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, back in March.
These matters last came up in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts on September 11, when they were adjourned to October for the commencement of trial. This was after the DPP failed to show up to court to determine how the matter will proceed.
One of Lowenfield’s lawyers, Nigel Hughes, had previously requested that the DPP review the charges against his client and as a consequence, the prosecution team had to hand over the documents to the Chamber.
But during a hearing last month, it was indicated to the court that the private criminal charges could possibly be taken over by the DPP’s Chamber in light of the police probe. Hence, the matter was adjourned to September 11 pending the decision from the DPP’s Chamber.
However, on that day there was no representative from the DPP’s Chamber to indicate whether a decision was taken. As such, the presiding Magistrate, Faith McGusty, set dates for the commencement of trial, starting on October 26 for Morian’s charges and October 27 for the charge brought by Kanhai. (G8)