…as they received 5 acres of prime land
Several persons who purchased property at the Sparendaam seawall area commonly known as “Pradoville 2” are to be interviewed by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) in connection with its investigation into the purchase of those lands.Guyana Times was told that among the persons to be questioned are opposition members former Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon and members of Parliament Clement Rohee, Priya Manickchand, Dr Jennifer Westford, Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.
However other persons who have property in the area includes, former Army Chief Gary Bess, former President of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr Compton Bourne, Former Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud among others.
It is not clear however if these persons will also be interviewed.
Additionally, former President Donald Ramotar’s daughter Lisaveta Ramotar, as well as Guyana’s lead negotiator to the UNFCCC, Andrew Bishop, would also be subjected to questioning sometime this week.
SOCU has invited those persons to visit its office at Camp Street at specified times during this week, to be interviewed as a part of the ongoing inquiry into Pradoville 2.
Attorney Anil Nandlall, who is providing legal representation for Luncheon, Rohee, Manickchand, Westford, Ali and Jagdeo, has dispatched a letter to the Head of SOCU, Sydney James, reminding him that the Pradoville 2 case is currently the subject of a constitutional challenge which is pending before the Constitutional/Administrative Division of the High Court.
“As a result of this and a multitude of other factors, which advisedly I will not disclose at this stage, I have deep reservations regarding the propriety, legality and constitutionality of the process upon which you and your officers have embarked, and I have so advised my clients,” he said in the letter.
Nonetheless, Nandlall said his clients will cooperate, even though it is not incumbent upon them to do so.
“Notwithstanding, without prejudice to the foregoing, and to demonstrate a willingness to cooperate, though not obligated to (cooperate), I have advised my clients to, at this stage, make themselves available for the requested interview,” he stated.
Nandlall informed the SOCU Director that his clients, who are Parliamentarians, along with Dr. Luncheon, will make themselves available at the Office of the Opposition Leader at Church Street for the requested interview from Tuesday to Friday.
He also advised that Ramotar and Bishop will be available to do the interview at his Chambers on South Road at a time and date convenient to the officers during the course of the week.
The APNU/AFC coalition Government has argued that the Pradoville 2 lands and their transactions were tainted with illegality on the basis that the lands were obtained below their market value. But Nandlall had contended that, when applying the same logic, the current Cabinet acted unlawfully when its members approved a 50 per cent increase in their salaries.
He was adamant that the price for which the land was sold was similar to, or comparable with, the price at which the Government sold lands under its housing programme to individuals as well as developers at that point in time.
Nandlall had also argued that, applying the same logic, criminal charges should be instituted against the Forbes Burnham family, who received 5 acres of prime land east of Sheriff Street, in the vicinity of the Botanical Gardens, given to them by transport by former President Jagdeo.
Nonetheless, Jagdeo has already signalled his intention to file private criminal charges against Government officials on certain matters, including the 50 per cent salary increase situation.
Meanwhile, Nandlall had objected to assertions that the then government had in fact paid to have remove a National Communications Network (NCN) transmission tower in order to use the lands to develop it into a high-end residential locale.
He pointed out that the tower was removed long before any work had begun at Pradoville 2.
He highlighted that the tower was removed to facilitate the expansion of the Eugene F. Correia International Airport at Ogle, ECD. (Guyana Times)