Singh, Brassington on $6M bail each, maintain innocence
By Bibi Khatoon
Former Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh and Former Chief Executive Officer of the Government’s privatization unit, Winston Brassington today appeared at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court, hours after they landed in Guyana, charged with three counts each of misconduct in public office.
The duo was not required to plea to the charges and was granted $6M bail each by Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan.
While the courtroom was filled to capacity, supporters and officials of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), staged a protest action outside the Magistrate’s Court, where they alleged that the charges are as a result of “political witch-hunt.”
Those offering their support to the accused were former President, Donald Ramotar and former Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds.
During today’s proceedings, the accused were represented by Attorneys, Anil Nandlall, Stanley Moore, Ronald Burch-Smith, Mark Waldron, Sase Gunraj, Priya Manickchand, Marcia Nadir-Sharma and Euclin Gomes.
The lawyers initially requested that the former government officials be released on their own recognizance; however, this was objected to the Prosecutor attached to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Trenton Lake who noted that “they [accused] are of means” to pay bail.
Lake informed the court that there are other investigations ongoing in relation to Dr Singh and Brassington.
In pleading the case for the bail to be reduced, the defence explained that the two men presented themselves at the mercy of the court without being served the summons.
However, the Prosecutor said the fact that the men could not be located to receive the summons does not show “eagerness” to appear in court.
He then proposed bail at $2M for each charge –this amounted to $6M per person.
Nandlall requested that the bail is reduced to $1M per person but this was refused by the Chief Magistrate.
The court heard that Dr. Singh, who served as Chairman of the National Industrial, Commercial and Investments Limited (NICIL) and Brassington who served as NICIL’s Chief Executive Officer, sold plots of lands on the East Coast of Demerara to National Hardware Guyana Ltd, Scady Business Corporation and Multicinemas Guyana without having a proper valuation of the properties.
WE ARE INNOCENT
After posting bail, Dr Singh and Brassington maintained their innocence.
“We did no wrong. The evidence speaks for itself. In time, I believe we will be vindicated,” Brassington told the media.
Dr. Singh stated that given the roles in which he served during his term in public office and having done his duties diligently, he has “no fear about the discharge of my duties being subject to the ultimate scrutiny. I have absolutely no reservation about that, I have absolutely no fear about that. I go further and say the PPP government has absolutely no difficulty with our period in office being subjected to ultimate scrutiny.”
He added that “the three matters that are subject of the current proceedings, are not a sudden discovery. These transactions were publicly disclosed by a variety of means…”
The former Finance Minister believes that the case will be dismissed if they are given a fair trial. They are scheduled to re-appear in court on June 5, 2018.
It is alleged that on December 28, 2009, a track of land, which is a portion of Liliendaal, Pattensen, Turkeyen on the East Coast of Demerara was sold to National Hardware Guyana Ltd, for the sum of $598,659,398.
On December 30, 2008, a track of land at Liliendaal was sold to Scady Business Corporation, 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.