By Jarryl Bryan
The Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) has brought in former Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, and at least
three Members of Parliament from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), for questioning regarding the revelations from the forensic audit into National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
This is according to PPP Chief Whip, Gail Teixieira, during a press conference at the PPP headquarters yesterday. She said that former Minister of Housing and Tourism, Irfaan Ali, Member of Parliament, Nigel Dharamlall, and herself were also questioned.
According to Texieira, Ali was the first to be questioned, on January 6. Texieira and Dharamlall were questioned by the unit on Monday, while Hinds was questioned on Tuesday.
Relating the events, Teixeira stated that on Monday last, she was paid a visit at home by the operatives.
“They came to my house on Monday and said they had been checking on me and looking for me since last week. And they asked if I could come down,” she said. “So I came down, accompanied with my lawyer. Three of us have lawyers; we have not gone in to be interviewed without legal representation.”
She said that while she had asked for leeway to be able to come down the next day, the operatives had insisted that she come down that very day and she had complied, accompanied by her lawyer, Bibi Shadick.
While she admitted that the police who came to her house were polite and identified themselves, She juxtaposed this with the fact that everyone else was given dates to come in, but she was not afforded this.
She stated that they were advised that auditor Anand Goolsarran’s findings or audit book had a number of allegations, including ones that could lead to criminal charges. Teixeira related that they were also advised that the police were addressing the matter in stages and that their voluntary submission to questioning was the first
Teixeira stated that the interviews were done primarily by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officers, but at SOCU headquarters.
“We are convinced that Government is using the arms of the state to threaten and intimidate PPP MPs, but it is not succeeding.” She stated that the suggestion was left open that they would be summoned again. It is expected that more PPP officials will be summoned, she said.
The Guyana Police Force (GPF) has been in receipt from Cabinet, of the audit book, prepared by former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran, since last month. This had been with the view of ascertaining whether criminal acts were indeed committed in the management of the state owned privatization and investment company.
This had been announced by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, on December 23, 2015. While Teixeira looked askance on CID involvement in the questioning, Harmon had said that the matter was now in the hands of CID. The roles played by NICIL Chief Executive Officer, Winston Brassington, in several questionable transactions, were highlighted. Brassington has since been sent on leave.
In the forensic audit report on NICIL, Goolsarran had recommended that criminal charges and disciplinary
actions be taken against all those within NICIL, responsible for the interception of State revenues totaling $26.858 billion in violation of Articles 216 of the Constitution and the related sections of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMA).
Dharamlall, as Permanent Secretary of the then Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, served as a director on NICIL’s board from 2011-14, while Ali served as a director of the Privatization board from 2012 to 2014.
Goolsarran had also said that disciplinary action is provided for under the following sections of the FMA Act: (a) Section 48 — Misuse of public moneys; (b) Section 49 — Liability for loss of public moneys; and (c) Section 85 — Liability of an official.
Goolsarran also called for the institution of criminal and/or disciplinary actions against all those responsible for violating Article 217 of the Constitution, by causing expenditure to be incurred without parliamentary approval.
He said that charges are in order for all those responsible for ignoring National Assembly Resolution No. 32 of December 17, 2012, requiring NICIL to pay over to the Consolidated Fund “all revenues and proceeds from the sale of all State properties, except for those necessary administrative costs for maintaining and running its operations annually.”
The Chartered Accountant also recommended that his report be forwarded to the State Assets Recovery Unit, with a view to recovering any State assets/properties that might have been improperly and illegally transferred to third parties.
The report had highlighted that Brassington bypassed internationally recognized and credible companies
only to engage criminal entities for the construction of the Marriott Hotel. It also stated that he failed to justify how millions of dollars were spent in the Linden Mining Enterprise and to properly account for their assets.
Goolsarran had also highlighted how Brassington, on behalf of NICIL hid $1B in a secret account which was intended to aid in the construction of the Marriott Hotel, then paved the way for NICIL to fund the preparation of the Pradoville Two scheme.
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