Sep 23, 2017 News
Investigations on the controversial Pradoville Two matter have been completed, but there are other areas for further clarification.
This was confirmed recently by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon and Head of the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU), Sydney James.
Asked at his most recent press conference about the status of the Pradoville case, the Cabinet Secretary said that as far as he is aware, that investigation is almost completed. But he noted that there are still some questions about the valuation to be placed on the lands.
Harmon said he believes that this is the last element being considered.
Kaieteur News also contacted James who confirmed that the investigation is basically completed but the Police Legal Advisor, Ms. Claudette Singh needed some clarification on the valuation aspect of the case.
He confirmed that this is being addressed.
Asked to say what would be the next stage when the clarification is over, James said that it would be up to the Police Legal Advisor.
In early October 2015, SARU completed a report which stated that in 2010, the Bharrat Jagdeo Cabinet made a decision authorising the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) to privatise State lands. NICIL is the body tasked with overseeing the privatisation of State assets.
It reportedly spent more than $200M to develop the sea front community without the knowledge and blessings of the National Assembly and other relevant authorities.
The lands were then secretly sold to the former Ministers and known friends and associates of the previous regime. At the time of the sale, the report said, the lands were grossly undervalued and sold at a price substantially below the market value, thereby depriving the state of its full benefits.
SARU said, “There is a direct link between the misconduct and the abuse of powers and duties of their position. The former Cabinet members knew they were doing a wrong in transferring State lands to their names and that of their acquaintances for undervalued market prices for the land. The lands were sold for $114 per square foot at the time.”
“Public officers ought to carry out their duties, not for the benefit of themselves, but for the benefit of the public as a whole. If they neglect or misconduct themselves by their actions in the course of their duties, this may lead to a breach or abuse of the public’s trust. The act of the Cabinet members for their benefit is serious enough to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust.”
In a letter addressed to Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, SARU had said that based on its findings, it is requesting that Ramjattan’s Office proceed to further investigate unlawful aspects of this matter, with the aim of establishing whether criminal action should be instituted.
“It is the duty of this Unit in the Ministry of the Presidency to ensure that no Minister of Government in Guyana would be the beneficiary from any acts of misconduct or unlawful conduct while being holders of Public Office.”
SARU had also informed the Public Security Minister that it has also forwarded its report to the Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, along with a copy of a Legal Opinion on the potential misconduct in Public Office by the former Ministers.
The document on the Legal Opinion says that there is legal scope for the argument of willful neglect by the former Ministers in performing their duties without reasonable excuse or facilitation to an extent amounting to an abuse of the public trust.
Further, based on the cases cited, the document outlines that the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, has Legal Standing on this matter.
Once sufficient evidence is gathered by his Chambers, Williams had said that a civil action against the former Cabinet Ministers will be instituted. He had explained to the media that former President Bharrat Jagdeo could face prosecution.
The SARU report however lists the DPP, Miss Shalimar Ali-Hack, as a beneficiary of the controversial Pradoville Two deal. The report said that on September 7, 2011, the DPP bought Lot 184 Sparendaam, ECD, Block IV, which is 0.2767 acres of land.
Asked how this looming situation of conflict of interest would be dealt with, Williams had said, “She would have to recuse herself in the determination of the matter.”
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