Singh, Brassington questioned on 27 allegations of misconduct
By Bibi Khatoon
After facing three charges each of misconduct in public office, former Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh and former Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington, were today questioned by investigators of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) in relation to 27 tracts of land sold to both public and private entities without proper valuation.
They were then released on $300,000 station bail each after their fingerprints were taken at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
The two men arrived at the SOCU Headquarters in Georgetown with their lawyers at about 9:30hrs today where they spent approximately five hours answering questions from investigators.
The men said they were invited to visit the SOCU Headquarters and according to Brassington, upon his arrival at the location, he was told that he is under arrest for alleged misconduct in public office.
After being questioned, Brassington told the media that some of the cases related to the sale of lands to SOL Guyana Inc., Guyana Stockfeeds Limited, the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI), Roraima Duke Lodge, Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation, Twins Manufacturing, Hand-in-hand, Prittipaul Singh and National Hardware among others.
He maintained his innocence, noting that every one of the transactions was approved by the board of NICIL and Cabinet.
“This is our privatization framework, matters go to a stakeholder board which includes representatives of Labour, the consumer bodies, private sector bodies and government, that board in term makes a recommendation to cabinet, we have published reports on all of these things,” he said.
“They are taking every instance where the valuation is above the selling price and calling it misconduct in public office… and in the majority of these cases even if we had a public tender,” Brassington told the media.
Asked whether it is common for lands to be sold for less than the valuated price, the former NICIL head said: “What is called valuation in Guyana is strictly not valuation. We don’t have the practice in Guyana of determining value based on comparable transactions…it’s an adjusted replacement value…Our board took a long time ago a pragmatic approach, have public tenders or use comparable transactions based on actual sales that were based on public tenders.”
The Former NICIL Head warned that persons doing business or working with the current government should be concerned that their character can be assassinated in the future for “political vindictiveness.”
Dr. Singh, who was also the former Chairman of NICIL, said he continues to cooperate with SOCU but maintained that the charges are baseless.
The Former Finance Minister said that though he chose to exit the political landscape in Guyana after the 2015 elections, his “silence must not be mistaken for any form of fear.”