Mar 11, 2017 News Comments Off on Day 4 Pradoville 2 probe…SOCU questions DPP, Gary Best
By Brushell Blackman
As the investigations into the controversial Pradoville 2 housing scheme enters its fourth day,
Director of Public Prosecution, Shalimar Ali-Hack, and former Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral (Ret’d) Gary Best were yesterday questioned by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
According to Nigel Hughes, lawyer for DPP Ali-Hack, SOCU has made it clear that his client is not a suspect in the current investigations. Her presence there was rather a fact finding one in relation to the broader Pradoville 2 investigations.
Hughes was asked if Ali-Hack should step down from her current position and he answered in the negative.
“There is no allegation and she is not a suspect. Why should she step down?” Additionally, he believes that if it were to come to a stage where Ali-Hack becomes a party in the investigations he cannot foresee her advising SOCU on whether charges should be laid or otherwise.
After his interview with SOCU, Best told the press that he was invited to that agency to explain the circumstances that led to his acquisition of the house lot at Pradoville 2. According to him the acquisition was done by a Government of Guyana process whereby the necessary paperwork was done, an invoice was generated and a fee of over $1.5M was subsequently paid for the lot.
Best made it clear that at the time of the purchase of the Pradoville 2 house lot, he had a previous government house lot but 10 years had elapsed since he acquired it. The former Chief of Staff said that he sold that house lot and also took a mortgage and used the two to build his current property at Pradoville 2.
Asked how he knew about the availability of the land at Pradoville 2, Best said that it must have been at one of those meetings he attended during his reign as Chief of Staff; he must have been alerted to such a development. Best said that contrary to what is being peddled in the public, his plot at Pradoville 2 was a swamp and he had to fund the cost to rectify it.
Best explained that he is at the bottom of a three level investigation, where investigators are looking at those who managed the assets (lands), those that made the decisions about the assets (Ministry of Housing) and those who just bought lands there without being privy to all the details.
The former Chief of Staff was asked if he felt that Pradoville 2 was developed for selected people like himself; to that he noted that it was not his place to pronounce on that.
The former Chief of staff during the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) administration was also asked if he thought he acquired the land below market value and if so will he be amenable to paying any additional cost and he said that it’s a difficult subject to address. Best explained that it is well known that the government of the day always subsidizes housing and Pradoville 2 is no different.
Interjecting to address the issue of payment of additional cost, lawyer for Best, Bernard De Santos SC, said that he (Best) will not be paying any additional cost since his client entered into a free contract with the government regarding the Pradoville 2 house lot.
To date, SOCU has questioned General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board, Lisaveta Ramotar, daughter of former President Donald Ramotar; former Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud; former Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Ramesh Dookoo; former deputy head of National Investment and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Marcia Nadir Sharma, and Dr Gansham Singh, the son of former Minister of Labour, Dr. Nanda Gopaul; former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds; Former President Bharrat Jagdeo, former Minister of Housing Irfaan Ali; former Minister of Education Priya Manickchand; former Minister of Tourism Shaik Baskh; former Minister of Labour Nanda Gopaul and former Public Service Minister Jennifer Westford.
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