By Michael Younge
One day after the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) rushed to the courts to charge Winston Brassington and Dr Ashni Singh for ‘public misconduct in office’, a former senior Government Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy has dismissed the charges as “whimsical” and “trumped up” as he warned that they were part of a wider political vulgar and political plot based on mere vindictiveness to turn people’s attention away from the poorly performing economy, massive Government corruption and a failing coalition pact.
Ramsammy, speaking with Inews during an invited comment, said the charges brought by SOCU could only be defined as “pure…political harassment and intimidation” as both served Guyana’s public service with distinction, competency and commitment.
“What misconduct are Dr. Singh and Brassington charged with? Each is charged because one was chairman of NICIL and the other was the CEO when three parcels of land were sold to private investors. APNU+AFC, through SOCU, is charging them with supervising the sale of land for prices below market value and not following normal procedures. It is noteworthy that approval to sell these parcels of land was obtained from Cabinet, the highest decision-making body in the land. It is further noteworthy that these two men were part of a Board that included stakeholders from civic society, including the private sector. When the Board finalized the sale, they obtained the permission of Cabinet. Why then did SOCU not charge everyone? Why just these two men?”, Dr Ramsammy a former Agriculture and Health Minister under successive Peoples Progressive Party Administrations.
He went into the details of the transaction as he sought to show how “puerile and ill-conceived” SOCU’s action could be coined.
“If this is a new paradigm, where is SOCU as APNU+AFC is guilty of gross misconduct on a daily basis? Guyana should have obtained at least $US250M as a signing bonus for the EXXON Oil contract. Comparison with other countries that have signed EXXON Oil contracts in the last decade ranks Guyana’s signing bonus as the smallest, even though Guyana had the most attractive oil potential. In addition, the signing bonus of $US18M was stashed away in a hidden bank account and APNU+AFC only admitted when confronted with hard evidence. Who is being charged with misconduct?”, he said.
Ramsammy believes that the action brought by SOCU aims to change the country’s political narrative about the coalition Government but warned that Guyanese are way more intelligent than the political pundits within the coalition appear to understand.
He supports of the position of Guyana’s Opposition Leader on the entire court case.
Singh, Guyana’s immediate past Finance Minister and Brassington, the country’s Head of the Privatization Unit were charged in connection with the sale of three plots of land to private business entities. They were given three weeks to make an appearance in court as they are currently out of the jurisdiction.