Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan has given former Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh and former head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Winston Brassington, three weeks to appear before the court to answer charges of gross misconduct in public office.
They allegedly sold several plots of land on the East Coast of Demerara to National Hardware Guyana Ltd for over $598M; Scady Business Corporation at a cost of $150M and to Multicinemas Guyana at $185M.
The two former government officials, who served under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration, were officially charged today by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
But they could not make a court appearance at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court this morning given the fact that they both migrated to the United States after the PPP lost the 2015 general and regional elections to the coalition.
When the case was called this morning, Special Prosecutor for SOCU, Michael Somersault requested that the parties be given three weeks to make an appearance which was granted by the Chief Magistrate.
The case has since been adjourned to May 7, 2018.
Dr Singh’s Lawyer, Anil Nandlall told the media at the Court that he is not sure what systems can be put in place to ensure the return of his client. Nandlall said that Dr Singh is employed with an International Financial Institution overseas and cases like these are expected to affect his employment.
In this regard, Nandlall, who is also the country’s former Attorney General, revealed plans to sue the State for defamation of character.
Nandlall also expressed a lack of confidence in SOCU successfully prosecuting both men.
Brassington is being represented by Attorney, Stanley Moore.
The first allegation states that on December 28, 2009 at Barrack Street, Kingston, by way of agreement of sale and purchase, they acted recklessly, when they sold to National Hardware Guyana Ltd, a track of land, which is a portion of Liliendaal, Pattensen, Turkeyen on the East Coast of Demerara for the sum of $598,659,398, without first procuring a valuation of the property from a competent valuation officer.
It is further alleged that on December 30, 2008, without due diligence, they sold to Scady Business Corporation, a track of land at Liliendaal for $150M, knowing that the same property is valued at $340M.
The third allegation revealed that on May 14, 2011, they sold to Multicinemas Guyana a plot of land at Turkeyen for $185,037,000 without first procuring a valuation of the property from a competent valuation officer.
Last year, SOCU had said it was making serious efforts to question Brassington and Singh in connection with the findings of the forensic audit into the management of NICIL.
Several files pertaining to this matter were sent for legal advice.