Home Letters What has happened to the long arm of the law?
Now that commissioners and employees of the Local Government Commission (LGC) have finally been paid after waiting for over two months for the release of their monies, one can only hope that they will get back energetically to the business of dealing with the most memorable and expensive financial fraud cases of all time in Guyana which occurred at the Georgetown Mayor and Town Council.
Financial fraud all over the world is a major crime which often comes with heavy punishment and fines for those involved. Enron, Cendant, and WorldCom are examples of massive companies torn apart by financial fraud and scandal. Other cases include fraudsters trying to sell the Eiffel Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge. But in each of these cases where serious white-collar crimes were committed came heavy punishment and fines instituted against the perpetrators. Those cases have at least one person, but more often than not there were groups of fraudsters going to prison.
Look at Madoff, who is currently serving a sentence of 150 years in federal prison for securities fraud. Look at WorldCom, whose CEO and CFO went to jail for lying about billions of dollars in yet another case of corporate accounting fraud or the 15-year-old Barry Minkow, who started a carpet cleaning company called ZZZZ Best and who was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison for 57 counts of fraud and racketeering.
Then there was ‘Count Victor Lustig’ who was no Count, but who used the fake title as one of his many lies to convince people in the scrap metal industry that he was a part of the French Government, and twice sold the Eiffel Tower, which he said had to be torn down.
At the Georgetown municipality, there was the notorious parking meter deal, the illegal sale of municipal properties and vehicles, the doling out of billions of dollars’ worth in illegal contracts without adherence to tender board procedures, the procurement of goods on a massive scale without a bidding process, the unlawful hiring practices and upward adjustment of salary scales, the shakedown of vendors and demands for bribes by their police department, and the illegal waiving of property rates and interest accrued.
More so, several senior officers were cited by the Local Government Com-mission of Inquiry for gross misconduct, abuse of office, recklessness, dishonesty, conspiracy, and misappropriation of funds. Others were cited for complete incompetence and dereliction of duty.
But guess what? In spite of these appalling and abysmal findings, the only thing that has resulted so far from what was discovered was one person had his services terminated who quite outrageously has sought a judicial review of the decision and is seeking to be reinstated. Unbelievable!
Meanwhile, all of the other unscrupulous, perfidious and villainous senior staffers who were fingered in the inquiry continue to filch, loot and dip their hands into the cookie jar. What has happened to the long arm of the law? Is our legal system no longer concerned with the punishment of individuals who commit crimes? Dismissal alone is not enough, those who violate the law must face incarceration, fines and other penalties. More so, stolen assets must be traced and returned to the citizenry.