Apr 13, 2018 News
…plans to privately advise if they should return to face court charges
Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, yesterday dismissed the charges as frivolous which were brought against former Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, and former head of the state-owned National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Winston Brassington.
Both men were charged yesterday in absentia with three counts of misconduct in public office, contrary to common law, by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) in connection with the sale of millions of dollars in prime state lands to private developers below market value and without property valuation.
Jagdeo, who was President at the time the deals were inked between 2008 and 2011, appeared at a press conference at his Church Street office flanked by People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Members of Parliament, Juan Edghill and Irfaan Ali.
“Brassington or Ashni Singh could not have executed these decisions unless the recommendation was approved by the Cabinet. I was head of the Cabinet at the time,” Jagdeo told reporters at the press conference which lasted for over 90 minutes.
Jagdeo stated that he will advise both men privately on whether they should appear in court when the matter is called again before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan on May 7.
Providing explanations, Jagdeo stated that the deals in question went to the Privatization Unit, the Privatization Board and then to Cabinet which granted approval for NICIL and the Ministry of Finance to execute the decision. Dr. Singh at the time was also appointed as the Chairman of NICIL.
Jagdeo asserted that the decision to press charges is a ploy by Government to distract from the real issues confronting the country.
“Just don’t think Ashni Singh and Brassington are the only two persons who are going to be charged. They [Govt.] need headlines,” Jagdeo stated.
He stated that he can justify the decisions taken while he served as President.
BIG BANK ACCOUNTS
Jagdeo unleashed on the Government for failing to press charges against former Government members on corruption although some 50 audits have been conducted since they came to power in 2015.
He stated emphatically that Dr. Singh and Brassington were not charged for stealing money.
“They were not charged because this Government found them with a big bank account that they can’t explain. They were not even charged for bribery in public office. What they were charged for is misconduct in public office contrary to common law. They couldn’t even find a national statute to charge them under,” Jagdeo pointed out.
He stated that both Dr. Singh and Brassington are currently struggling at their jobs. He did not disclose their place of work nor location, although it is widely believed that both men may be in the United States.
Jagdeo reminded that the APNU+AFC campaigned on a promise that they ‘will jail all’ of the PPP officials because they were massively corrupt.
“There was a great expectation that once this Government came into office that it will do the audits swiftly, find these huge billions of dollars that were stolen and that they would proceed to charge people for the theft of money for corruption or bribery,” Jagdeo noted.
Clearly taking a jab at the government’s allegations of fraud against the PPP, Jagdeo reminded that his party members were accused of stealing $305B per annum through procurement fraud; had accumulated assets, which they were not declaring to the Integrity Commission; and had stolen so much money they couldn’t stash it in Guyana and had to revert to stashing it abroad.
“The Government must be happy, not that it is rooting out corruption, but it is going to damage the reputation of two hardworking individuals. No doubt they would be gloating about it,” Jagdeo stated.
Ali, a former Minister of Housing and Edghill, a former junior Finance Minister, both accused the current government of corruption, specifically pointing out the Cabinet, the Regional Democratic Councils, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and the Ministry of Natural Resources.
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