Just days after the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) filed charges against the Ministers of Finance, Winston Jordan, Infrastructure, David Patterson and Public Service, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine accusing them of “misconduct in public office” in relation to the controversial Durban Park Project, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has discontinued them.
Attorney General, Basil Williams was the first to announce that the charges were discontinued on Thursday.
The DPP in a subsequent statement said that the charges were discontinued under “Article 187 (1) ( c) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.”
The most recent discontinuation of charges comes after the DPP had done the same with the private charges brought against former and current Public Health Ministers, Dr George Norton and Volda Lawrence for the same offence, with regards to the rental of a house in Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown for a monthly fee of $12M to store drugs and the sole sourcing of drugs and pharmaceuticals for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation from private company, Ansa McAl Trading Limited in the amount of $605M respectively.
Similar to the reasons proffered for the discontinuation of the first set of private charges, the DPP posited, for the three Government Ministers, that “These charges concern a grave issue under the criminal law in relation to two serving Ministers. In the interest of good governance in the State of Guyana such allegations ought first to have been reported to the Guyana Police Force for an investigation to be launched and the advice of the DPP sought.”
Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall has since expressed his Party’s intention to challenge the DPP’s decision to discontinue private charges filed against Ministers Lawrence and Norton.
Nandlall had argued that DPP’s reasons cannot withstand objective legal scrutiny, outlining that they are “dubious at least. One, that a report was not made to the police station. The DPP was careful not to point which law requires such a report to be made because there’s no such law,” he posited.
On Wednesday Williams said that Government will be moving to formally request a review of the private criminal charges recently brought against the three senior Ministers.
On Monday last, Nandlall in outlining the now discontinued charges against the three Ministers stated that Patterson and Jordan are being accused of “paying to Private Limited Liability company, Homestretch Development Inc (HDI), the sum of $906M, being public funds, without any resort to the procurement process as is required by law.”
Further, in the other charge placed against Minister of Public Service, Roopnaraine, it is alleged that “while being a Minister, [he] acted as Director of the Private Limited Liability Company, Homestretch Development Inc (HDI) and accepted $906M of public funds without any resort to the procurement process which is prescribed by law.”
Works on the controversial $1.4B project, which was shrouded in secrecy, started in 2015.
Last year, Auditor General of Guyana, Deodat Sharma told media operatives that the missing financial records for the Durban Park project was prolonging a special audit which had been launched among concerns of corruption and mismanagement of the State’s resources.
At the time, the Auditor General had said that there were no documentations of the transactions regarding the Durban Park Project, prior to it being handed over to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
Today, while providing a comment on the charges, Roopnaraine said that he finds the charge of “misconduct in public office” laid against him by Opposition Members to be “frivolous.”