Former Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and former Chief Executive Officer of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington today appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court before Chief Magistrate Ann Mclennan and were granted $6M bail each for the charges laid against them.
The matter was then adjourned to June 5, 2018.
The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) brought the charges against the two former Government officials last month.
In the three charges advanced by SOCU, it was outlined that Singh, being the Chairman of NICIL and Brassington being the CEO in December of 2008 by way of Agreement of Sale and Purchase sold to Scady Business Corporation a track of state land (4.7 acres) being a portion of Plantation Liliendaal, situated on the East Coast of Demerara for the sum of $150, 000, 000 “knowing that the said property was valued at $ 340,000,000 by Rodrigues Architects Associate, a competent valuation officer.”
Similarly, the other charge outlined that Singh and Brassington sold to Multicinemas Guyana Inc a plot of state land (10 acres) at Turkeyen for the sum of $185, 037, 000 “without first having procured a valuation of the said property from a competent valuation officer.”
Moreover, it was outlined that Singh and Brassington in 2009, by way of an agreement of sale and Purchase sold to the National Hardware Guyana Limited a track of state land (103 acres), being a portion of Plantation Liliendaal and Turkeyen for the sum of $598, 659,398 (VAT exclusive) “without first having procured a valuation of the said property from a competent valuation officer.”
Former Attorney General under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Administration, Anil Nandlall, is challenging these matters for what the defence contends are frivolous charges.
Nandlall filed two High Court action seeking to (1): have an interim stay of proceedings in the Magistrates’ Courts; and (2): to have the charges against Singh and Brassington quashed.
Singh and Brassington’s legal team include Senior Counsel Stanley Moore and attorneys Sase Gunraj, Ronald Burch-Smith and Mark Waldron.
Justice Franklyn Holder heard the challenge and having heard both sides, the Judge gave SOCU’s lawyers time to show why he should not grant Nandlall’s application.
As it pertains to the High Court challenge, both parties will return to the Court on May 16 for arguments on whether or not the Judge will grant the interim stay.
After the charges were filed, Nandlall, on behalf of PPP MPs, took to the court to have current Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence and former Public Health Minister Dr George Norton charged with the same offence. In addition, Government Ministers David Patterson, Winston Jordan and Dr Rupert Roopnaraine were also charged.
However, all of those charges were discontinued by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in a move which Nandall contends is unfair, as he continues to oppose the decision.
Since the institution of the charges, a number of legal scholars have commented on the matter, with former Speaker and Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran deeming them unconstitutional on the grounds that Singh and Brassington are not “public officers” in accordance with the Constitution.