‘We will be vindicated’ – Dr Singh, Brassington
By Devina Samaroo
With heads held high moments after being released on hefty bail of $6M each, two former Government officials professed their innocence and expressed “absolutely no fear” of their actions being subjected to the highest degree of scrutiny.
Former Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh and former Chief Executive Officer of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington just hours after travelling from foreign jurisdictions appeared at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court Tuesday afternoon to answer to charges of “misconduct in public office” brought against them by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
Members of the media swarmed the courthouse while former Government officials, including former presidents Donald Ramotar and Samuel Hinds, flocked the scene waving placards crying ‘political victimisation’.
Brassington briefly expressed to the media that he was never served with a summons yet he “voluntarily came” to answer to the charges.
“We did no wrong, the evidence speaks for itself, in time, I believe, we will be vindicated,” he stated.
Dr Singh, known to be a prolific debater, delivered a passionate speech in front of the cameras as he defended his actions and questioned the motives of the Government in filing the charges.
“Today’s proceedings are significant in the history of our country… the Guyanese people have entrusted me for than 20 years with a succession of roles, first, in the civil service, and then subsequently in Parliament and as a Minister and throughout that time, I took those responsibilities associated with those roles extremely seriously. I discharged them diligently, in accordance the law at all times and consistent, and in pursuit of the national interest at all-times invariably,” Dr Singh stated.
The former Finance Minister continued, “I have absolutely no fear whatsoever about the discharge of my duties being subject to the ultimate degree of scrutiny. I have absolutely no reservation about that and I have absolutely no fear about that.”
In fact, Dr Singh pointed out that the transactions for which he is being charged is not a “sudden discovery” as every privatisation transaction of the State under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration was publicised through various means such as the National Gazette and a comprehensive document produced by NICIL.
“These transactions are no sudden discovery; they were publicly disclosed by our government – unlike those of our predecessors. We will always defend the cause of transparency and openness in government,” Dr Singh posited.
He further noted that as a result of those transactions, there was “phenomenal development impacts” on the country’s economy.
WHERE IS THIS BIG CORRUPTION?
Accusing the coalition Government of uttering “innuendos and insinuations”, the former Finance Minister wondered whether these transactions are the “big corruption” which the PPP was accused of.
“If you read the substance of these charges, there is no merit in them…Where is all this big corruption that APNU/AFC have been speaking of…this is what they come up with?”
To further substantiate his position, Dr Singh made reference to the ongoing court case against the Board Members of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) where the charge is about the failure to record a transaction in the ledger.
Dr Singh said laying charges of such frivolous nature is “worry development” and “if transactions such as this are being described as misconduct in public office … then I shudder to think the number of instances of misconduct in public office being committed right now.”
“They must know something that assures them that they will never have to answer the call,” Dr Singh stated.
He contended that the political operates of the governing coalition are “setting a bar as it relates to conduct in public office which they themselves are completely wholly incapable of complying with.”
The charges against Dr Singh and Brassington were based on findings that the duo sold prime plots of lands on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) to National Hardware Guyana Ltd, Scady Business Corporation and Multicinemas Guyana without having a proper valuation of the properties. Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who was president at the time those transactions occurred, has since defended every sale agreement and even took full responsibility for making the decision to sell the lands.