Attorney-at-law, Anil Nandlall on Monday before Chief Magistrate Ann Mclennan, at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court, filed private charges on behalf of People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Member of Parliament (MP), Bishop Juan Edghill against Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, Finance Minister Winston Jordan and former Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine with regards to the Durban Park project, where they said funds amounting to $906M were paid to a private company, Homestretch Development Inc (HDI).
Works on the controversial $1.4B project, which was shrouded in secrecy, started in 2015.
This move comes on the heels of “misconduct in public office; Contrary to the common law” charges being brought against former Minister of Health, Dr George Norton and current Minister of Health, Volda Lawrence with regards to the sole sourcing of drugs and other pharmaceuticals for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation from privately owned, Ansa McAll Trading Limited and the rental of a house in Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown to be utilized as a drug bond at a cost of $12M monthly, respectively.
On April 12, 2018 “misconduct in public office; Contrary to the common law” charges were brought by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) against former Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Winston Brassington as it pertains to the sale of three plots of state land during the PPP’s tenure.
The move to press private charges against sitting Government Ministers was described by Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo at a recent press conference as not being “tit for tat” as they were, according to him, a long time coming.
Jagdeo had said “this is not the end, we’re not stopping at these two charges, they’re several others who will be charged” as he addressed the charges filed against Singh and Brassington.
Jagdeo had asserted that if Government charges hold merit, then the cases filed by the PPP will also hold that same weight.
“… so if what Ashni Singh and Brassington did, which is follow a Cabinet instruction, is misconducting in a public office…They followed a Cabinet instruction, and did this…then these [Ministers’ breaches] are a million times worse because they result in large amounts of money leaving our treasury and going into private people’s pockets, then this has to be misconduct in public office if those are the standards now… If these issues, the cases that we are filing don’t amount to misconduct in public office, nothing can in this country and so we will test it in the courts now,” he contended.
More details on the most recent private charges will be provided in a subsequent report.