…says in response to private case filed against Norton, Lawrence
“The PPP is aware that more charges are soon to be filed against high public officials who served under the Jagdeo and Ramotar administrations. These charges are a result of months of intense investigation by Commissions of Inquiries and evidence gathered by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) of the Guyana Police Force.”
Those were the words of State Minister Joseph Harmon as he responded to the private charges brought against two sitting APNU/AFC Government Ministers by the PPP.
Earlier today Attorney-at-law, Anil Nandlall on behalf of the PPP Members of Parliament (MPs), Bishop Juan Edghill and Vickram Bharrat filed a case at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court against former Minister of Health, Dr George Norton and current Minister of Health, Volda Lawrence.
The two Ministers are being accused of “misconduct in public office; Contrary to the common law”- the same offence in which former Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Winston Brassington were charged with on April 12, 2018, by SOCU.
According to the court document, Minister Lawrence’s charge relates to “the unapproved single sourcing and purchase of drugs and medical supplies for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, in the city of Georgetown from Ansa McAl Trading Limited, a company incorporated under the Laws of Guyana, for the excessive sum of six hundred and five million, nine hundred and sixty-two thousand, two hundred dollars ($605,962,200).”
While Norton’s charge outlines that he “willfully misconducted himself in a way which amounted to an abuse of public trust without reasonable excuse or justification, when he authorised or caused the rental, of the property known as and situate at 29 Sussex Street Albouystown, in the city of Georgetown from Linden Holdings Incorporated, a Limited Liability Company, incorporated under the Laws of Guyana, for the sum of twelve million five hundred thousand dollars ($12,500,000) exclusive of VAT, per month, by way of a written Agreement of Tenancy at an excessive rate of rental.”
Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan has since ordered that the respective Ministers appear before the court on April 24, 2018.
Harmon however, in a statement posited that the move by the PPP is to draw attention away from the charges brought against Singh and Brassington.
Moreover, he posited that “we are sure that in the matter before the court the actions of our ministers will be vindicated.”
Speaking to the media after the private case had been filed, Nandlall acknowledged that he is following in the steps of Government as they had filed a similar case against his clients.
On April 12, Government instituted legal proceedings against Singh and Brassington for what it says is “misconduct in public office: contrary to common law” as it pertains to the sale of three plots of state land.
Just after the charges were brought against Singh and Brassington, Opposition leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo said that “after some 50 audits conducted by the Coalition Administration, and it being three years later with no “theft of money, corruption or bribery” being found, Government has opted to lay “frivolous” charges.”
Nandlall, one of the defence attorneys in case, had posited that “all the procedures were complied with and three plots of land were sold… This is not a criminal offence. Where is the crime?”
Moreover, he asserted his belief that this action by SOCU is nothing short of a “witch hunt.”