The parties involved in the case for which People’s Progressive Party, Civic (PPP/C) Presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali, was charged for the sale of lands, have been given more time to file responses in the matter filed to challenge the charges against him.
The High Court hearing into the matter continued yesterday. However after a brief closed door hearing the matter was adjourned to May 29, 2019.
Following the hearing, lead Attorney for Ali‘s legal team, Anil Nandlall, explained that the State was expected to serve their respective submissions.
“However, the Commissioner of Police and Chief Magistrate served their submission late. So because of that, we have been granted more time to respond to their submissions.”
Nandlall said that the submission will be filed and the matter will come up for oral arguments on May 29 at 9:15 hours.
Ali, of Lot 38 Saray, Leonora, West Coast Demerara, was hauled before the court where he was slapped with 19 fraud charges. He had been accused of defrauding Government of over $174 M, by selling several plots of State lands, below the market value, to former ministers of the then PPP/C government.
The charges against Ali stated that between the period 2011 and 2015, he conspired with persons unknown to defraud the Government, when he acted recklessly by selling19 plots of State Lands at Plantation Sparendaam and Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara. The lands which were sold for a mere $39.8M, are valued at $212.4M, according to SOCU.
Ali is accused of ‘greatly underselling’ the 19 plots of State Lands to former President Bharrat Jagdeo, former Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon; Luncheon’s wife, Floreen Ramnauth; and former ministers Priya Manickchand, Dr. Jennifer Westford, Robert Persaud and Clement Rohee; Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack; former army chief-of-staff Gary Best, and Fortune Developers Inc. Guyana.
Ali is also accused of selling lands to former General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board and daughter of former President Donald Ramotar, Lisaveta Ramotar; former President of the Private Sector Commission, Ramesh Dookhoo; and the son of former Labour Minister Dr. Nanda Gopaul, Dr. Ghansham Singh; former Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Chief Executive Officer, Rajendra Singh; and former president of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr. Compton Bourne.
He is also accused of selling lands to Former Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission Safraaz Khan; former CEO of Guyana Water Inc, Shaik Baksh; along with George Halla and Dave Narine.
After the charges were read, Attorney Kissoon, petitioning for his client, requested for Ali to be released on his own recognizance, citing that he has been a public servant for the past 20 years.
He added that Ali held the post of shadow Minister of Finance.
Charges against Ali were recommended by SOCU after a forensic audit report was conducted and revealed that Ali acted illegally with the manner in which he distributed several large and expensive plots of land.
It was reported that after five months of investigation, SOCU completed its investigation into the allocation of lands at ‘Pradoville Two’ to Cabinet members of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic Administration and their close associates.
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), which was conducted by accounting firm Ram & McRae.
The investigation revealed that the allocation of the lands was a clandestine arrangement that was handled personally by former Housing Minister Ali, and it was concluded that a criminal case for misfeasance can be made against the PPP/C Cabinet members who benefitted.
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.
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