May 22, 2018 News
Justice Franklyn Holder yesterday handed down a ruling at the Georgetown High Court, which has temporarily halted the criminal proceedings against former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh and former Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington.
Singh and Brassington are facing a trial in the Magistrates’ Court for alleged Misconduct in Public Office.
Following a private hearing at the Court yesterday, Defence Attorney, Anil Nandlall told reporters that Justice Holder granted an interim stay of proceedings pending before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in relation to Singh and Brassington, until the hearing and determination of the substantive challenge over the validity of the charges which is before Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George.
In addition to the application to temporarily stay the proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court, Nandlall had also filed a Fixed Date Application, (FDA) before the Chief Justice to challenge the basis and legality of the charges against the two former public officials.
Meanwhile, Solicitor General Kim Kyte, who presented the State’s case against the two men, noted that the Judge granted the application in the interest of protecting the judicial process.
“The Judge’s only reason for granting the application is to protect the judicial process. The Magistrate cannot be dealing with the matter at the same time that the Chief Justice is hearing the case in the High Court,” Kyte stated, adding that the Supreme Court takes precedence over the lower Courts.
The Solicitor General nevertheless expressed confidence that “the substantive case has no realistic prospect of success.”
The Solicitor General noted that the State has argued extensively that the DPP was within her power to institute the charges.
Added to that, Kyte said that it is their contention that “the Magistrate has not acted in bad faith nor are the charges brought against Singh and Brassington bad in law.”
“We have argued extensively that the charge is very good in law. It’s a common law charge and it is provided for under the laws of Guyana.”
Last month, the Special Organised Crime Unit, (SOCU), of the Guyana Police Force completed its Pradoville Two investigation and moved to institute charges against the former public officials. However, Attorney Nandlall moved to the High Court to block the proceedings.
Earlier this month, both Dr. Singh and Brassington appeared at the Magistrates’ Court to answer to charges of misconduct in public office.
According to the first charge, Dr. Singh as Minister of Finance, and Brassington as the Chief Executive of NICIL on May 14, 2011 at Lot 126 Barrack Street, Kingston, Georgetown, sold a tract of land being a portion 10.002 acres of Plantation Turkeyen, East Coast of Demerara, property of the State of Guyana for the sum of $185,037,000, without first having procured a valuation of the said property from a competent valuation officer.
Another charge stated that Dr. Singh and Brassington on December 30, 2008 at Lot 126 Barrack Street, Kingston, Georgetown, by way of Agreement of Sale and Purchase without due diligence, sold to Scady Business Corporation, a 4.7 acres tract portion of Plantation Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, for $150M knowing that the said property was valued at $340M by Rodrigues Architects Associate, a competent valuation officer.
The last allegation against the two stated that Dr. Ashni Singh and Brassington on December 28, 2009 at 126 Barrack Street, Kingston, Georgetown, by way of Agreement of Sale and Purchase, acted recklessly when they sold to National Hardware Guyana Limited, a tract of land at Plantation Liliendaal, Pattensen and Turkeyen, situated on the East Coast of Demerara, being 103 acres, being property of the State of Guyana for the sum of $598,659,398 (VAT exclusive) without first having procured a valuation of the said property from a competent valuation officer.
The men were each placed on bail on $6 million and the matter was fixed for June 5, 2018, for continuation. Singh and Brassington have since left the country.
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