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Mar 25, 2023 Court Stories, Features / Columnists, News
Kaieteur News – The trial for former Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, who was charged with misconduct in public office, is scheduled to commence on April 11, 2023 at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
The former Minister had made his first court appearance in December 2021, before Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts for allegedly selling a State wharf below its market value.
Jordan was not required to plead to the indictable charge after it was read to him. He was slapped with a charge which alleges that while being and performing duties of Minister of Finance and being the concerned Minister for the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), a company owned by the Government of Guyana, between February 26, 2020 and July 31, 2020 at Main Street, Georgetown, he willfully misconducted himself.
The charge alleges that the former minister acted recklessly when he signed NICIL Order, No. 50 of 2020, transferring to and vesting in BK Marine Inc., Mud lots situated at North Cummingsburg, Georgetown, being over 2.553 acres, by paying $20,260,276, for a property valued over $5B and being sold at a price that was grossly undervalued to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public trust and without reasonable excuse or justification.
The charge was brought against him by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), an arm of the Guyana Police Force (GPF). Head of SOCU, Assistant Commissioner Fazil Karimbaksh, on Thursday disclosed that the case was heard before Senior Magistrate Leron Daly.
According to Karimbaksh, as the case was being heard, the Magistrate indicated to the prosecutor that she was inclined to make a ruling in favour of the defence submissions which were previously made by Jordan’s lawyers that he was not a Public Officer, however the prosecution had previously submitted that the Chief Justice made a ruling in the case of Brassington and Singh v the Chief Magistrate in Application 757 of 2018 that Dr Ashni Singh who was also a Finance Minister was considered to be a Public Officer and that Article 232 of the constitution of Guyana provides that a Public Officer means the holder of any Public Office and includes any person appointed to act in such Office inter alia.
The Magistrate, after making the comments reserved her ruling to advise herself on whether to stop the case without hearing evidence from the prosecution or whether she has to take evidence from the prosecution and then make a ruling at the end of the prosecution’s case and had adjourned the matter.
When the case was recalled, Senior Magistrate Daly indicated that she would reserve her ruling and take evidence from the prosecution, and then make a ruling at the end of the prosecution’s case.
This prompted one of the defence attorneys to inform the court that the defence would be challenging her ruling in the High Court. However, the magistrate adjourned the case for 11th April 2023 for trial.
Kaieteur News had reported that Jordan was first arrested on December 2, 2021 and later released on bail for a series of allegations relating to transactions of public funds and state properties, estimated to value billions of Guyana dollars.
According to the police, the first transaction that he was interviewed about is in relation to the alleged sale and vesting of the state’s largest wharf facilities located at Kingston, Georgetown, valued approximately US$40,000,000 but was reportedly sold for US$500,000.
It is alleged that the purchaser BK Marines Inc., only paid US$100,000, which is 10 percent of the purchase price, and Jordan issued a vesting order passing Title to the purchaser, without the payment of any further sum of monies.
It was further stated that the vesting order stated that the property is being sold free from encumbrance and liabilities and no further sum of money is owed by the purchaser. Also, the transport was subsequently reportedly issued for the property and the value stated on the transport was US$2,000,000. It was noted however, that the agreement of sale stated that title must only pass upon full payment of purchase price.
The police also reported that investigators have evidence to establish that a facility which is a mere fraction of the size of the state property that is under investigation, and located seven miles upriver, was sold by a private company for US$17 million.
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