Government will be moving to formally request a review of the private criminal charges recently brought against three senior Ministers in the coalition Government in relation to the controversial D’Urban Park Project by People’s Progressive Party Member of Parliament, Bishop Juan Edghill.
Private Criminal charges of “misconduct in public office” were on Monday last brought against Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson and former Minister of Education, now Minister of Public Service Dr Rupert Roopnaraine at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court, by former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall on behalf of Edghill.
This is on the heels of the Opposition filing charges 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.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) however discontinued those charges after Attorney General, Basil Williams had called for them to be discontinued.
Nandlall has since expressed his Party’s intention to challenge the DPP’s decision to discontinue private charges filed against Ministers Lawrence and Norton in the High Court.
Today, Williams during an interview at the sidelines of a conference , said that while a formal request to the DPP was not made for the charges against Norton and Lawrence to be dropped, the request will be made for the second set of accused.
“I think that hasn’t been done. We’re in the process of doing that. In fact, you would recognize that these three additional charges came after the first two charges were dispensed with and discontinued by the DPP so they will go the same way because it’s the same principle,” he said.
On the same day that the Opposition filed these new charges, the DPP announced her decision to have the case against Norton and Lawrence discontinued on the basis that the matter should have first been reported to the Guyana Police Force then forwarded to the DPP for advice.
However, Nandlall argued that her 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.
Meanwhile, Williams stood in defence of the DPP’s decision today.
“…I gave a press conference to you and I outlined the powers of the DPP and that the DPP had to be proactive. Why would the DPP have all those powers over all prosecutions of the country?…And those that she didn’t initiative she could intervene and discontinue them,” he posited.
On Monday last, Nandlall in outlining the 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, Rupert Roopnarine, 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.