Senior, retired Police officers slapped with $10M fraud charge

Nine serving and retired officers who are implicated in a $10 million fraud at the Guyana Police Force (GPF) have been charged with misconduct in public office and conspiracy to commit fraud. They were arraigned before Principal Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus on Thursday at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
Charged are Police Service Commission (PSC) Chairman retired Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe; PSC member and retired Assistant Commissioner Clinton Conway; retired Assistant Commissioner Claude Whittaker; Senior Superintendent George Fraser; retired Senior Superintendent Michael Sutton; Superintendent Mark Gilbert, serving Assistant Commissioner Royston Andries-Junor; Senior Superintendent Marcelene Washington, and Assistant Superintendent Marlon Kellman.
The first charge stated that Sutton, while performing duties as Finance Officer for the GPF between July 1, 2019 and July 31, 2019, at the GPF’s Headquarters, Eve Leary Georgetown, willfully misconducted himself when he falsely signed seven payment vouchers as the accounting officer, which he was not authorised to do, enabling Slowe, Conway, Whittaker, Fraser, and Gilbert to be paid $1,000,766, without the approval of Daniella McCalmon, the Accounting Officer, and without any reasonable excuse or justification.
It is further alleged that Slowe, Conway, Whittaker, Fraser, Gilbert, Andries- Junor, Washington, Sutton, and Kellman, between March 1, 2019 and July 7, 2020, at Guyana Police Force Headquarters, Eve Leary Georgetown, conspired together and with other persons unknown to defraud the GPF of $10,056,000 by paying Slowe, Conway, Whittaker, Fraser and Gilbert $10M without complying with the proper procedures, purportedly to do a review of the Guyana Police Force’s Standing Orders, which had already commenced in July 2018 and been concluded in March 2019 by the Strategic Planning Unit.
The defendants were not required to plead to the indictable charges. Sutton was granted $200,000 bail, while the others were each granted $100,000 bail. Their next court appearance is June 3, 2021.
They were represented by a team of lawyers, including Nigel Hughes, Patrice Henry, Dexter Todd, Dennis Paul, Everton Lammy-Singh, Narissa Leander, and Darren Wade.

No basis
Speaking with reporters after the court hearing, Hughes underscored that there is no basis on which to level such charges against his clients.
“These charges, I believe, are not based on facts. All of the persons who have been charged are of impeccable character, and they have all stood on their integrity. We have got people who have served this country for over 30 years without any allegation, without even any suggestion of an allegation… Never before in their entire life…”, Hughes added.

Investigations by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) revealed that former Police Commissioner Leslie James had hired Slowe, Conway, Whitaker, Gilbert, and Fraser – all former officers of the GPF – to conduct a complete revision of the Guyana Police Force’s Standing Orders in March 2019.
James did not prepare a budget for the service that was offered. He made no contractual agreements with specifications of what was to be revised and terms of payments. He never even sent for, or received, approval from the Permanent Secretary of the then Ministry of Public Security, nor the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
The payments, amounting to $10M, should have been budgeted for and approved by the NPTAB. The GPF has a raft of Standing Orders which comprises 104 orders. These very Standing Orders that James hired the former officers to revise had already been revised by highly qualified and competent policy analysts of the Strategic Planning Unit (SPU) of the Force.
More than $10 million was paid to the former officers, who did not provide the GPF with a completed revised raft of Standing Order. Payments’ accounts were prepared individually from March 2019 upon instructions from the Head of the Strategic Planning Unit, Andries-Junor.
Upon his transfer from the unit in November 2019, Andries-Junor instructed the new Head of SPU to ensure she continues making out payment accounts for the said officers. She made out accounts as instructed until February 2020.
An examination of over 60 payment vouchers showed that Washington and Sutton, who were former Police Finance Officers, signed 15 payment vouchers collectively as the Accounting Officers. They had no authority to do so. The only accounting officer of the Police Force is the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs (former Ministry of Public Security).
The Permanent Secretary gave no such authority to them. As a result of what they did, Kellman entered the information into the Integrated Financial Management and Accounting Systems (IFMAS) although the vouchers were not approved and signed by the substantive accounting officer McCalmon.