Nov 28, 2017 News
Investigators are close to wrapping up some loose ends in the
Pradoville Two case.
Yesterday, a valuator was in that Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara exclusive seaside area to conduct work.
With him were officials from the police Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). He has been retained to value the plots of lands that were purchased by former President Bharrat Jagdeo, several ex-ministers and a number of high ranking, former government officials and their relatives.
An independent valuation was ordered by the Police Legal Advisor (PLA) to complete the file.
Earlier this year, several officials, including Jagdeo, were hauled in for questioning by SOCU over the land deals which were alleged to have been sold under market prices and under questionable circumstance.
Two officials who bought lands at the controversial Pradoville 2 scheme have since indicated that they are now amenable to paying the market value for those lands. Previously, former Minister of Natural Resources, Robert Persaud, said that he is ready to pay the market value.
The issue of the land price at Pradoville Two was galling by reports that sugar workers bought lands for $500 per square foot whilst lands at Pradoville 2 were sold at $114 per square foot.
The transaction happened under Jagdeo, shortly before he ended his two-term in office, in late 2011.
While criminal charges are looming, beneficiaries of the housing lands at Pradoville Two are likely to be given an option to pay the market price.
To date, SOCU has questioned General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board, Lisaveta Ramotar, daughter of former President Donald Ramotar; former Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Ramesh Dookhoo; 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 Minister of Housing, Irfaan Ali; former Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand; former Minister of Tourism, Shaik Baskh; former Minister of Labour, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, former Public Service Minister, Dr. Jennifer Westford and Taslim Baskh, former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA).
Investigators were questioning how the beneficiaries learnt of the land sale and whether it was advertised.
A transmitter tower at Sparendaam, belonging to the National Communications Network, was removed, costing taxpayers $100M, to make way for Pradoville Two. It is also believed that state funds were used to develop the scheme.
There have also reportedly been some claims that the lands are ancestral ones.
Earlier this year, SOCU’s investigators recommended that 12 persons be charged.
Among the 12 recommended for charges are former Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh; and former head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Winston Brassington.
Brassington now lives in Miami, Florida and Singh is said to be working in Washington.
Brassington was at the helm at NICIL when the controversial Pradoville 2 Scheme was conceptualised.
There are also no details of whether the recipients were owners of properties at the time. If they were, they would have been barred from buying the lands under regulations of the Central Housing and Planning Authority.
There are several other investigations, spurred by other forensic audits, and conducted by SOCU, that are ongoing.
Some other former government officials are currently facing the courts.
According to details of the Pradoville 2 allocations, Jagdeo received two parcels equivalent to two acres.
On it, he built an imposing mansion, complete with swimming pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
He paid a total of $9.8M. He had already owned a property along the Ogle Airport Road in the community that was known as ‘Pradoville One’. However, he is claiming that he sold that property to Trinidadian advertising executive, Ernie Ross.
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