No bills, invoices for 2020 elections cases can be found at AG’s Chambers
Police investigators have been asked by Auditor General Deodat Sharma to probe the hefty spending in legal fees on private lawyers by the former APNU+AFC administration in a series of political cases.
But that may prove to be an uphill task with no paper trail left at the Attorney General Chambers for several cases that were mounted following the March 02 2020 elections.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Senior Counsel Anil Nandlall made the disclosure on Monday, one day after it was made public that the Auditor General had asked the police to conduct an in-depth investigation and institute charges where necessary for a series of procurement breaches.
Nandlall said for the period between March to August 2020, when the APNU+AFC and its supporters mounted a series of court battles to stave off its exit from government, no bills or invoices can be found.
“I refuse to believe that all these lawyers, both local and international, offered their services pro bono. They must have been paid and one is left now to speculate how that payment was made,” Nandlall told the News Room.
Nandlall said since assuming the post as Attorney General back in August 2020, he has repeatedly asked for the bills for private lawyers retained during the period spanning Guyana’s protracted 2020 elections and none can be found.
He described the situation as incestuous and said the police will now have to decide how they will go about investigating in the absence of important materials.
The Attorney General suggested that the lawyers may have to be contacted individually and interrogated.
Speaking generally on the Auditor General’s report into the former government’s legal fees of over $170million between 2015 and 2020 and a series of breaches in the procurement of external lawyers, Nandalll said it was not an isolated incident of corruption.
“It is widespread and permeates every sector of central government… I don’t think under any government in Guyana we have seen this magnitude of nepotism and squandermania.
The AG said following the revelations in the AG report Cabinet will have to meet and decide on how it addresses the situations before moving forward.
Nandlall also pointed out that the majority of the political cases were lost by the government. He said the taxpayers for funded the cases benefited nothing.
In the audit report it was found that in many instances the contracts were entered into with the Attorneys but the posts were not publicly advertised.
With many of the cases dating back to the No-Confidence Motion, this resulted in a breach of the Procurement Act.
In addition to the police probe, the Auditor-General said disciplinary action should be taken against those culpable of breaching the Procurement Act and the ministry must ensure that there is full compliance with the Procurement Act with respect to the awarding of contracts.