The Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday disclosed that the Regional Security System (RSS) has found no evidence of corrupt practices or any attempt to cover up the murder of gold dealer, Ricardo Fagundes, also known as “Paper Shorts.”
Last month, the RSS was asked to review Fagundes’ murder after Police Sergeant Dion Bascom went to Facebook to vent his frustration in what he deemed as mistreatment in the Guyana Police Force (GPF). He had claimed that there was a conspiracy to kill him and cover up Fagundes’s murder.
As a result, a former Detective Chief Inspector of the Metropolitan Police Service, Serious and Organised Crime Command, was deployed to assist in investigating the claims.
In a statement, the Home Affairs Ministry said the objectives of the report by the RSS were: to determine whether the GPF had effectively investigated Fagundes’s unlawful killing/ homicide.
To determine whether there is evidence to support any wrongdoing by Superintendent of Police Mitchell Caesar and Inspector Nigel Stephens as alleged by Sergeant Bascom.
To review the investigation of the Fagundes case by the GPF and any actions taken by the investigating officers.
Notwithstanding, the statement said that the RSS review revealed that the bribery allegations made by Sergeant Bascom against Caesar and Stephens to cover up Fagundes’ killing were hearsay, having no provenance.
The Ministry is contenting that Bascom’s two Facebook live streams “causes one to question the veracity of his allegations.” Moreover, it was noted that the Sergeant’s Facebook live streams are in contravention of Section 19 (5) (a) of the Cyber Crime Act No. 16 of 2018.
“This veracity of the allegations was further undermined by the fact that Sgt. Bascom was found to be living rent-free in a furnished property in the area of Essequibo belonging to an Essequibo businessman and gold trader,” the statement added.
It was further added that Bascom was found to be working as a Personal Security Officer for the Essequibo businessman.
This, the Home Affairs Ministry said, is in contravention of Section 32 of the Police Act CAP 16:01, which prohibits members of the GPF from engaging in Trade or Business without the consent of the Commissioner of Police (COP).
Further, the Ministry accused Bascom of leaking information to the media while noting that there is evidence to confirm this.
“It was also noted that a close associate of Fagundes, who was in his company prior to his death, gave investigative officers inaccurate statements relating to the events on the night of the incident. The evidence obtained by the investigators revealed these inconsistencies.”
Sergeant Bascom had disclosed that while investigating the gold dealer’s murder, he and his colleagues used a device that identified Mark Richmond’s cell phone as being on the crime scene.
However, GPF’s Technical Officer Rodwell Sarrabo confirmed that the Police Force does not have such technology and that Bascom was never at the crime scene with him.
In light of this, the Reviewing Officer believes that the GPF has done extensive work into the Fagundes’ murder probe.
“There is no evidence to suggest that there was any attempt to cover- up this case, and there is also no evidence of corrupt practices as alleged by Sgt. Bascom. The RSS also recommended support to the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory from a Regional laboratory to assist in analyzing some samples of interest related to the investigations.”
To this end, the Ministry said national and international investigations are ongoing to bring the matter to finality.