Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall on behalf of People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Members of Parliament (MPs), Bishop Juan Edghill and Vickram Bharrat on Thursday morning 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 the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
According to the legal document, “Volda Lawrence, being and performing the duties of Minister of Public Health of the Government of Guyana, between 16th January, 2017 and 16th February, 2017, in the City of Georgetown in the Georgetown Magisterial District, in the County of Demerara, in the State of Guyana, willfully misconducted herself in a way which amounted to an abuse of public trust without reasonable excuse or justification, when she authorised or caused 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).”
With regards to Norton, the court article stated “George Norton, being and performing the duties of Minister of Public Health of the Government of Guyana, on 1st June, 2016, in the City of Georgetown in the Georgetown Magisterial District, in the County of Demerara, in the State of Guyana, 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.”
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, Singh and Brassington.
Meanwhile, Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan has since granted two summonses for the respective Ministers ordering them to appear before the court on April 24, 2018.
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.
However, Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has since labelled the charges “frivolous,” while defending his party members who he claims are men of integrity.
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”, highlighting that he is positive that he will win this case, and as such, he hopes that the State is aware that civil suits will be filed for defamation of character. (Ramona Luthi)