APNU-AFC’s Carol Smith-Joseph slapped with 14 fraud charges, released on $140,000 bail

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Charged: APNU-AFC’s Carol Smith-Joseph

APNU-AFC’s Carol Smith-Joseph of 99 Main Street, Hopetown, West Coast Berbice (WCB) has been charged by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU)—an arm of the Guyana Police Force—with 14 indictable charges of fraudulent appropriation of property of body corporate.

She allegedly committed the offence against the Mahaica Abary Rice Development Scheme (MARDS). On Wednesday, Smith-Joseph appeared at the Mahaicony Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate Marissa Mittleholzer who read the charges to her. She was not required to enter a plea.

Bail was granted to her in the sum of $10,000 on each of the charges, totalling $140,000. She was represented by Attorneys-at-law Nigel Hughes and Roysdale Forde. The cases were adjourned to January 11, 2023, for statements and June 7, 2023, for Preliminary Inquiry (PI) to commence.  

In March 2022, a report was made to SOCU by Mahaica Abary Rice Development Scheme (MARDS) Rice Milling Complex Limited, a private company registered under the Companies Act. The company reported to the Police several instances of fraudulent appropriation of funds of that company by Smith-Joseph, who was a director of that company at the time.  

As a result of that report, SOCU commenced investigations.  During the investigations, it was revealed that Smith-Joseph was appointed as a Director of MARDS between the period July 2015 and June 2018 by the then Minister of State of Guyana, Joseph Harmon.

As a director on the Mahaica Abary Rice Development Scheme (MARDS) board, without authority, she solely approved 14 transactions amounting to $6,121,108.00 without the Board’s knowledge and approval between June 1, 2016, and August 2016.  

According to SOCU, the Board makes all the policy decisions of MARDS and the duty to execute the Board’s decision is done by the company’s General Manager. 

Whenever payments have to be made to any suppliers or if MARDS has to do any financial transaction, approval must be given by the Board. 

Based on the Board’s decisions to pay, the General Manager would cause the payment to be processed by staff and two authorized signatories of MARDS must sign a cheque of payment so that it can be encashed at Republic Bank where MARDS has a bank account. 

“These amounts were used for her [Smith-Joseph’s] personal benefits and other purposes other than that of Mahaica Abary Rice Development Scheme business. These activities were in no way associated with MARDS Rice Milling Complex,” SOCU said in a statement on Wednesday.

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