Feb 16, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Former Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, and Former General Manager of the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC), Rawlston Adams, yesterday denied a charge which alleged that they defrauded the State of over $160M.
The duo made their second court appearance in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts yesterday before Senior Magistrate Leron Daly. Patterson is being represented by attorneys-at-law, Ronald Burch-Smith and Nigel Hughes, while Adams is being represented by attorney-at-law, Glenn Hanoman.
On Patterson and Adams first court appearance, they were not required to plead to the charge since it was laid indictable.
However, the prosecutor had requested that the charge be laid summarily so that the matter can be tried in the Magistrate’s Court as opposed to a preliminary inquiry (PI) being conducted in the Magistrate’s Court before the matter is either sent to the High Court or dismissed.
The charge was yesterday changed and laid summarily and Patterson and Adams were required to enter a plea after the charge was re-read to them.
Both men pleaded not guilty to the charge, which stated that between November 18, 2016 and February 1, 2018 at Georgetown, they conspired with each other and with other persons unknown, to defraud the DHBC of $162,635,015, funds of the DHBC’s Asphalt Plant Account.
The charge is in relation to a contract that was awarded to a Dutch company, LievenseCSO, to conduct a feasibility study and design for the new Demerara Harbour Bridge between Houston, East Bank Demerara, and Versailles, West Bank Demerara.
Senior Magistrate Daly adjourned the matter to March 1, 2021 for filing of statements of the witnesses that are expected to testify against Patterson and Adam.
The duo remains out on $200,000, bail each that was granted to them on their first court appearance.
Kaieteur News had reported that the charge was brought by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), a branch of the Guyana Police Force (GPF). There is an ongoing probe by SOCU in relation to Patterson’s role in sole-sourcing the Dutch company that was selected to conduct the feasibility study.
After the contract was made public in 2017, the then Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had called for a thorough investigation by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) into the awarding of the contract to the Dutch firm, this later triggered an investigation by SOCU.
The PPC in its investigation found that Patterson’s request to Cabinet for approval of the contract was not forwarded through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB). As a result, the PPC had asked for the tender to be reset. NPTAB had given approval for the project to be retendered but it was not.
The PPP/C was adamant that the bypassing of the procurement process was illegal, but SOCU later stated that it had sought legal advice, and that there is no evidence that a criminal offence was committed.
Recently, SOCU reopened the case and on Friday last, Patterson and Adams were called in for questioning by SOCU and the charge was later instituted.
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