“Every time they need a distraction they talk about Pradoville.” That is the conviction of former President, Bharrat Jagdeo.
He was hosting a press briefing at his Church Street Office yesterday morning.
Jagdeo said, “We expect them to continue harassing. I saw that they said they want to file charges on Pradoville. Again, Pradoville will surface; it is a pattern, every time they are in a corner, Pradoville surfaces.”
Jagdeo was responding to reports he saw in this newspaper yesterday to the effect that soon, the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) of the Guyana Police Force, will lay charges against former Minister of Housing, Irfaan Ali. These charges, 19, have already been prepared.
SOCU thinks it has a solid case against Ali. But Jagdeo was very dismissive of it yesterday. In fact, more of his attention was focused on how SOCU is going about handling the matter involving Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson.
Jagdeo said, “I saw SOCU saying that they are about to finalize the investigations on Patterson and the corrupt contract for the feasibility study on the Demerara Harbor Bridge. But, they have not invited Patterson or the Members of the Cabinet yet.
“When I attended that meeting with SOCU, I asked, ‘Are you going to pursue the same pattern. I willingly came because I wanted to make sure that SOCU follow the same pattern in questioning people.’
“They assured me that Patterson will have to go to SOCU as well as members of the Cabinet who participated in that award (of contract) because they had invited the Members of the previous Cabinet to go to talk about different things that were done at the Cabinet. So we are looking to see if this is going to be a cover up.”
While, Jagdeo is so concerned about the Patterson matter, sources within SOCU said yesterday that “his boy is in much more trouble.”
Many of the charges to be laid against Ali have to do with the Pradoville Two case. However, SOCU has reportedly found that Ali acted illegally with the manner in which he distributed several other large and expensive plots of land.
Sources within SOCU have all confirmed that the agency will be moving swiftly in the near future to lay the 19 charges and ensure that justice is served.
But, one source said that SOCU is being careful to ensure that everything is done correctly, “given the fact that we have not had so many successes so far.”
SOCU believes that its case against the former Minister is strong. “We have relevant pieces of documents to support our conviction that (Irfaan) aided by (former President Bharrat) Jagdeo, ripped off the State for the benefit of them, their friends and families.”
This newspaper sought more information as to the strength of case as it relates to evidence but SOCU officials are very tight-lipped about those details.
“I am sure you can understand why we cannot give out too much information on this but be assured that we have put in the work. I have told you more than enough,” one source said.
Ali is said to be very close to Jagdeo and is also one of the PPP’s candidates for Presidency to compete against the coalition in the 2020 elections.
Kaieteur News understands that while most of the charges are for Ali, he is not the only big wig in the PPP/C that is likely to be taken before the courts for actions done while in government.
In this case, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) cannot have a say.
DPP Shalimar Ali-Hack is listed as a beneficiary of the controversial Pradoville Two deal. A State Assets Recovery Assets (SARA) report said that on September 7, 2011, the DPP bought Lot 184 Sparendaam, ECD, Block IV, which is 0.2767 acres of land.
The investigation into the lands came after a special investigation of the Sparendaam Housing Project referred to as `Pradoville 2’ was completed. The investigation was part of a larger probe of the financial operations of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA), was conducted by accounting firm Ram & McRae.
The investigation revealed that the allocation of the land was a clandestine arrangement that was handled personally by former housing minister Irfaan Ali and it was concluded that a criminal case for misfeasance can be made against the PPP/C Cabinet members who benefitted.
Lots were allocated to six Cabinet members—former President Bharrat Jagdeo, Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon and Ministers Priya Manickchand, Dr. Jennifer Westford, Robert Persaud and Clement Rohee—along with other persons with connections to the then government.
The forensic audit, found that awardees grossly underpaid for the lots by a total of nearly $250 million, while the state-owned National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited, National Communications Network and Guyana Power and Light Inc. were never reimbursed for millions of dollars spent to execute preparatory works.
“Our examination leads to the conclusion that the project was done outside of the established procedures and that Minister (of Housing Irfaan Ali) piloted every aspect of the transaction without recourse to the Authority.
While the minister has considerable powers under the Housing Act, his role in the issue of titles was well outside of his functions and powers,” the final report, said.
The report added, “No files were maintained by CHPA for any of the plots allocated by a process that can be described as lacking transparency at best,” it further said..
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