Jul 02, 2018 News
It was during the debate of the 2018 Budget that Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams revealed that approximately $300M was being budgeted by his Ministry for the hiring of private lawyers, including, Special Prosecutors.
But in doing so, he was “blissfully oblivious to the constitutional violations he was committing,” says former Attorney General and Opposition Member, Anil Nandlall in his recent writings.
In his weekly column called, “Unruly Horse,” Nandlall highlighted that the issuance of the legally required fiat to prosecute is being carried out by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack upon the instructions of the Attorney General. Nandlall stressed that this is a clear unconstitutionality.
He stated that Article 187 (4) of the Constitution expressly prohibits the DPP from being directed by any person or authority in the discharge of the functional responsibilities of that office. Nandlall argued that the, apparent, willing subjugation of this office, to these directions, is a heavy blow to its integrity and impartiality.
Further to this, the Opposition Member said that two of these Special Prosecutors are operating out of the former law office of the Attorney General while he was in practice. He also stated that another three have well known connections to the PNC. Nandlall said these other issues only serve to compound the constitutional incest.
“Recently, in response, the AG disclosed in the National Assembly that these Prosecutors are retained at the staggering rate of $2M per head, per case, along with a charge-out rate of $20,000 per hour spent on each case (whether in or out of court). For most of the cases filed, so far, five Prosecutors are retained per case.”
“This aggregates to $10M plus $100,000 for every hour spent on the case. Most of these cases require a minimum of over a dozen witnesses to be called. Each of these cases will attract a minimum of approximately 100 billable hours – $100,000 x 100 = $10,000,000 + $10,000,000 = $20,000,000. So, each case will attract a minimum cost of $20M.”
On that note, Nandlall pointed out that one would observe that there is no mechanism in place to prevent fabricated billing hours. He said therefore, that this arrangement is susceptible to serious abuse.
Nandlall, said, too that based on information provided by the Attorney General, 12 cases have been filed thus far by the Special Prosecutors. He said that the sum of money thus far expended is $240M ($20Mx12).
He concluded, “I have used minimum figures in these computations. I predict that none of these cases would yield a conviction.”
According to information supplied to Kaieteur News, the five special prosecutors retained by the state are Trenton Lake, Michael Somersall, Hughley Griffith, Lawrence Harris and Patrice Henry.
Last year January when government announced that it was pursuing fraud charges against officials in the former People’s Progressive Party Administration, Compton Richardson, was announced as the sixth special prosecutor.Nandlall had told reporters at the time that the appointment of the special prosecutors was unconstitutional. He had said that lawyers who will be or have been hired as Special Prosecutors, are operating out of Government Ministers’ “former” firms.Police Legal Advisor, Justice Claudette Singh, SC, had also been critical of the prosecutors’ work ethics. In the initial stages, she had stated that the prosecutors were not attending meetings, “non-co-operative and that they were not pulling their weight.”
She was of the view that the lack of cooperation was hindering the expeditious delivery of prosecution in many of the investigations undertaken by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). She also said that had the Special Prosecutors been more involved in the building of the cases by SOCU, more would have been accomplished.
The special prosecutors were hired to ensure effective and efficient prosecution of criminal charges into the Sparendaam Housing Project, known as Pradoville Two, and the operations of the Guyana Cricket World Cup Inc.
Nandlall is of the view that this was yet another political witch-hunt that is contaminated with cronyism, nepotism and ‘money for the boys’.
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