Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall today failed to show up in court for the trial in relation to him converting $2.3M in law books that were the property of the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
Nandlall is yet to lead his defence in the matter even though a City Magistrate found sufficient evidence against him almost one year ago.
This afternoon, when the matter was called in the courtroom of Senior Magistrate Fabayo Azore, the orderly called Nandlall thrice; but no one answered or appear to the name.
Shortly after, Attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes stood before the Magistrate and informed her that Nandlall apologies for his absence. He added that Nandlall is attending to a matter of national significance and personal importance causing him to be absent. This, the lawyer said, was unanticipated and asked the Magistrate to grant an adjournment in the matter.
The Magistrate, after listening to Hughes, adjourned the matter until January 10, 2020.
The matter was called around 15:00hrs. At that time, Nandlall was seated at a head table at Freedom House where the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) hosted the launch of its summery manifesto. Nandlall did not address the audience.
On October 25, 2019, Nandlall was granted an adjournment in the matter which was to facilitate the ruling of the Appeal Court in regards to an interim stay. Nandlall and his lawyers had approached the Appeal Court with the hope of the Judge quashing the charge. The adjournment was granted to today’s date.
It is alleged that between May 8 and May 29, 2015, at Georgetown, Nandlall fraudulently took or converted 14 laws reports to his own use and benefit, while being a bailee, Attorney General, and Minister of Legal Affairs. The reports were valued at $2,313,853 and were the property of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, the charge states.
Nandlall had pleaded not guilty to the charge and the prosecution has already closed its case. Magistrate Azore had called on Nandlall to lead a defence after ruling that there was prima facie evidence against him.
But Nandlall moved to the High Court to challenge the magistrate’s decision to overrule a no-case submission by his lawyers. However, Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire dismissed the challenge and now Nandlall has taken his fight to the Court of Appeal.
Nandlall was previously reported as saying that when he took up the post of Attorney General, he did so at a loss and it was for that reason he agitated for the State to pay for the Law Reports.
He had said that the arrangement received the blessings of the then Head of State, Donald Ramotar.
However, investigators are contending that because the books were bought with State funds, they cannot be the property of Nandlall and, in fact, the State should not have entered into such an arrangement in the first place.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs is further contending that there is no evidence of an agreement between Nandlall and Ramotar and, even assuming that there was such an agreement, the use of public funds in this manner is a flagrant violation of the Financial Management and Accountability Act.
Nandlall was charged after SOCU, an arm of the Guyana Police Force, completed investigations.