“What we are witnessing is State bullyism, political harassment of the very worst kind”…

first_img…questioned by SOCU…released on $200,000 station bail eachOne day after being released on $6 million bail each, former Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh and former Chief Executive Officer of the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) Winston Brassington were called in for questioning by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).On Wednesday, the two former Government officials, accompanied by their lawyers – Anil Nandlall, Mark Waldron and Sase Gunraj – arrived at SOCU’s headquarters in Georgetown at about 09:00h and left some four hours later with SOCU officials.Nandlall told the press, who waited patiently outside SOCU, that the two were questioned about 27 allegations of misconduct in public office, even on matters dating back to 1994.These transactions involve the following Guyana Stockfeeds; Marilyn Oudho; Clairan’s; Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry; Duke Lodge; Pritipaul Singh Investments; Hand-in-Hand; National Hardware; Twin’s Manufacturing; Old GPC; Anthony Pierres; Property Holdings Inc; I Ali; Hicks, Linden; Sanata at Industrial Site; Mohabir, Linden and SOL (Guyana).The lead attorney noted that no allegation of dishonesty was made, nor are there any allegations that the duo has stolen public funds, or profited from these transactions. These transactions, according to him, had received the approval of Cabinet, and were one on the recommendations of the NICIL Board. “I maintain that these charges are intended to harass, humiliate and persecute these persons,” he asserted.Nandlall told Guyana Times that he was advised that the charges were recommended by advice received from Dr Sam Sittlington, who is assisting SOCU.“If these cases are tainted in criminality, are they now going to charge all the persons who purchased? That would even be more ridiculous.”He said it amounts to unfairness and unequal treatment meted out to his clients.In addition to that, Nandlall is arguing that Government distributed over 100,000 house lots which were deliberately sold below market value“Are they going to charge the 100,000 persons who benefited from these housing programme?”Targeting political opponentsMeanwhile, Dr Singh told the media that the coalition Administration was using SOCU to target its political opponents. “I would say that what we are witnessing is State bullyism, political harassment of the very worst kind,” he said. Nevertheless, the former Minister said both himself and Brassington are cooperating with SOCU.He reiterated that the charges for which he and his former colleague were granted bail for, are not only baseless but irrational. Dr Singh again expressed confidence that the matter would be disposed of and promised to remain focused, explaining that he will not be intimidated by the matter before him.On the other hand, Brassington also told the media that while being questioned, SOCU officials went through tonnes of files totalling over 20. “They are taking every instance where the valuation is above the selling price and calling it misconduct in public office… cases even if we had a public tender,” he said.The former NICIL head noted that every single transaction received several layers of approval, first by the Privatisation Unit Board, the NICIL Board and then by Cabinet. “We have produced records showing what we did and there is nothing wrong in what we did. Everything we did we have a justification and an approval from Boards and Cabinet, so it is a travesty in justice,” he added.Singh and Brassington were taken to the Criminal Investigations Department of the Guyana Police Force. They were fingerprinted and later released on $200,000 station bail each.The two former Government officials were charged on Tuesday for allegedly selling several plots of State land on the East Coast of Demerara to National Hardware Guyana Ltd for over $598 million; Scady Business Corporation at a cost of $150 million, and to Multi-cinemas Guyana at a cost of $185 million.The two will return to SOCU on Monday for further questioning.last_img

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