Former Government Minister Volda Lawrence this morning appeared before the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court to answer to private criminal fraud charges.
The charges were filed in March by Charles Ramson Jr – who is now Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport.
The charges were filed against the Lawrence and Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo in relation to the unverified declaration of results for Region Four.
They are accused of forging official electoral documents in an effort to defraud the country.
INews understands that Mingo did not make a court appearance because he was never served.
PNC Chair Volda Lawrence at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court
The particulars of the charge state that Mingo, having been procured by Lawrence on or about March 5 at the Command Centre for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on High and Hadfield Streets, uttered to the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, the election results for Region Four, knowing it to be forged, with intent to defraud the people of Guyana.
The Guyana Elections Commission, despite being barred by an injunction, went ahead and published the Form 24s [which the election declaration] for all regions on its website. This included the Region Four unverified declaration. On the form, there is the signature of Mingo and that of Lawrence.
All of the Form 24s that were published by GECOM on its website had GECOM’s stamp with the RO’s signature. However, a close examination of Region Four’s form shows that Lawrence’s signature was affixed below that of the RO.
Lawrence was placed on $100,000 bail and is expected to return to court on September 11.
Lawrence is the Chairperson of the People’s National Congress Reform – the largest party in the APNU/AFC Coalition which was refusing to accept electoral defeat and has been accused of attempting to undermine the will of the people.
Meanwhile, Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield made yet another court appearance today where a decision regarding the continuation of the private criminal fraud charges against him was slated to be announced.
Lowenfield’s lawyer had requested that the charges be reviewed by the Director of Public Prosecution.
However, at court today, Lowenfield was told to return on September 11 for a decision. In the meantime, the charges against him remain.
Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield
Simultaneously, the Guyana Police Force has launched an investigation into alleged criminal conduct by Lowenfield and Mingo.
The Force had announced that it has received reports which alleged criminal conduct by Lowenfield, Mingo and others.
Lowenfield was slapped with three private criminal charges regarding conspiracy to commit fraud and breach of trust in public office.
They were filed by Josh Kanhai and Desmond Morian, private citizens.
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 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.
The national recount exercise shows that the PPP/C won the elections with 233,336 votes. But Lowenfield has repeatedly refused to submit his final elections report with those figures.