Opposition Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill on Monday indicated that he is the least worried about the $200M lawsuit filed against him by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, asserting that “there is no case.”
“There is no case! …The minister was not even prosecuted. I filed a charge which I am entitled to, as a citizen, that’s part of my right as a citizen to file a charge. The Minister is to go to the court and defend that charge…If a court of competent jurisdiction had discharged that case against the Minister, then he probably could have said he was maliciously prosecuted but no court of competent has dismissed that charge,” Edghill told media operatives today.
Meanwhile, in response to this, Jordan said “I don’t make joke with my integrity at all so he could spin how much he wants right now. He would have to spin in court eventually.”
Last week, Jordan filed a $200 million lawsuit against Edghill, whose private criminal charges against several Government ministers, including Jordan, have since been dismissed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
In the court document seen by this publication, Jordan is claiming damages in the sum of $200,000,000; for the “Malicious Prosecution of the Offence of Misconduct in Public Office” and other damages.
On April 23, 2018, Edghill initiated private criminal charges against Minister Jordan and Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson jointly as well as against Public Service Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine.
The charges against the Ministers allege a breach of the Procurement Act in relation to the expenditure of $906 million in public funds to a private company, Homestretch Development Inc, for the construction of the controversial D’Urban Park Project, which has been a contentious issue for some time now.
Jordan and Patterson were jointly charged with misconduct and abuse of public trust for having allegedly authorised the payment, while Dr Roopnaraine, who was a director of the company, was charged with alleged misconduct and the abuse of public trust for having received, in his capacity as director, the $906 million in public funds while serving as minister.
However, those charges were subsequently discontinued by the DDP, Shalimar Ali-Hack, who said that in the interest of good governance, such allegations against serving ministers ought first to have been reported to the Guyana Police Force for an investigation to be launched and the advice of the DPP sought.
Despite the charges being dismissed, Jordan, in his application to the court, said the private criminal charges filed by the Opposition Parliamentarian was intended to embarrass, humiliate, and cause him to suffer public odium and contempt.
The Finance Minister went on to explain in his application that the $906 million was approved by the National Assembly, and thereafter, made available to the Public Infrastructure Ministry from the Consolidated Fund. He noted that as a Member of Parliament, Edghill could not honestly believe that he acted without reasonable excuse or justification in respect of issuing a Warrant to effect disbursements and allocation of the money to the Public Infrastructure Ministry.
“…the respondent was therefore aware, or ought to have been reasonably aware, that the sum of $906,000,000… was approved by the National Assembly and as Minister of Finance, I was obligated by Law to issue the necessary warrant to ensure that the said approved sum of money was available to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, and as such there could be no honest belief that I willfully misconducted myself as alleged by the Respondent,” Jordan argued.
However, Edghill in an interview with this publication called out Jordan for what he said was the “Administration’s double standards.”
Edghill pointed out that one of the grounds that Minister Jordan cited in his application was that he was merely carrying out the decision of the National Assembly, which had approved the $906 million for the D’Urban Park project.
“The Minister is part of a Government that has taken former Finance Minister Ashni Singh and former NICIL’s CEO Winston Brassington to court for their conduct in public office when all they were doing was carrying out decisions of the Cabinet, decisions of a Board of NICIL. It looks like the Minister would like to have it both ways,” Edghill said.
Nevertheless, the Opposition parliamentarian posited that he is awaiting the commencement of proceedings into this $200 million lawsuit since he will be able to defend his private criminal charges, which were dismissed.
“While the charges may have been discontinued in the lower court, the fact that [Jordan] has now taken this matter to the higher court, the matter will be discussed there and the nation will be able to see if he really misconducted himself or not; so thanks to the Minister for engaging [me] so that these matter could be further ventilated in the High Court,” the PPP MP stated.