The decision to have former Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Winston Brassington charged is nothing more than a “frivolous” attempt to keep a campaign promise made by the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to jail members of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
This is according to former President and current Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo during a press conference on Thursday.
“It is all frivolous… This Government campaigned on a promise that they will jail all of us when they get into power because we’re massively corrupt…We were told that we had assets that we were not declaring to the integrity Commission. We’re told that the People’s Progressive Party and its leaders had stolen so much money they couldn’t stash it in Guyana, they had to stash it abroad. These were the campaign. This was in the mouth of every person who spoke on the APNU platform. Jail, Jail these people,” Jagdeo recalled.
He explained that it was due to this promise that “there was a great expectation in this country that once the [Coalition] Government came into office that it will do the audits, swiftly find these huge billions of dollars that are stolen because they can’t be hidden easily and that it will proceed to charge people for the theft of money…for corruption or bribery, or something around that nature. That was the expectation among people.”
Earlier today, the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) instituted legal proceedings against Singh Brassington for what it says is “misconduct in public office: contrary to common law” as it pertains to the sale of three plots of state land.
However, the former President mocked that after some 50 audits conducted by the Coalition Administration, and it being three years later with no “theft of money, corruption or bribery” being found, Government has opted to lay “frivolous” charges.
“Ashni Singh and Brassington were not charged for stealing money. They were not charged because this Government found them with a big bank account that they can’t explain. They were not charged for even bribery in public office, what they were charged for is ‘misconduct in public office; contrary to common law.’ They [Government] couldn’t even find a National Statute to charge them under,” he asserted.
Moreover, Jagdeo stood in defence of Singh and Brassington, saying that the duo, are men integrity.
“I know that Ashni Singh and Winston Brassington, despite all that they [Government] might say about them, they have more integrity in their little finger than many of these ministers have in their whole bodies, from head to toe,” he indicated.
Last year May, six former members of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) were arraigned at the Georgetown Magistrates Courts; for allegedly omitting from the general ledger of the GRDB, $362 million while they served on the entity’s board.
Today, Jagdeo used this to make his point by asserting that in this instance as well, the Board Members who have affiliations with the PPP were not charged for stealing, but in fact charged for what was considered “a procedural error.”
“… they were Board Members but they were charged not for stealing money but failing to update the General Ledger. They’re members of the Board; they did not have administrative functions but they were charged for failing to update the General Ledger… Three years later, all you can find is procedural errors and we don’t believe there are procedural errors but is that all you can charge on. This is a desperate attempt,” the Former Head of State lamented.
Singh and Brasington’s case was adjourned until May 7 since the duo are presently said to be living abroad.
As such, the three charges could not be read by Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan when the case was called on Thursday.
Representing Dr Singh is Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall, while Attorney-at-Law, Stanley Moore is representing Brassington.
Earlier today, Nandlall also told INews that his client’s actions were not criminal; highlighting that he sees this as more of a “witch hunt.”
“This is another spate of witch hunting that is taking place where the criminal justice system is being used as a political weapon by those in government to persecute …and damage the reputation of two young Guyanese professionals” he said. (Ramona Luthi)