SOCU arrests former Govt Minister

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Former Government Minister Irfaan Ali

Former housing and tourism Minister Irfaan Ali was on Wednesday morning arrested by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) in relation to the sale and transfer of lands located in Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara (Pradoville 2) under the former Administration’s tenure.

INews understands that Ali is expected to face several charges in relation the above mentioned matter on Wednesday.

In the past, SOCU has detained several former prominent Government officials, including former Prime Minister and President, Samuel Hinds, former Ministers Priya Manickchand, Irfaan Ali, Clement Rohee, Robert Persaud and Dr Jennifer Westford regarding their connection with the Pradoville 2 lands.

The reason these persons are being questioned is because they purchased property at the Sparendaam seawall area (ECD) that is commonly known as “Pradoville 2”.

The current APNU/AFC Administration contends that the transaction is a criminal act because the lands were sold below market value.

However, the Opposition had long argued that subsidised housing has always been a part of the legacy of the People’s Progressive Party, and that countless Guyanese have benefited from lands sold below market value.

In fact, former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall had said “Every single house lot in this country was distributed way below the market price: $50,000 for a land in Mon Repos, $200,000 in Eccles… Is that the value of the house lot? So let us not get carried away and become victims of the propaganda.”

Leader of the Opposition and former President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, who was also called in by SOCU for questioning in relation to the same matter had dubbed the move as “another political gimmick” by the incumbent Administration aimed at besmirching the character of their opponents.

Nevertheless, Jagdeo, had asserted that his party members will cooperate with SOCU, regardless, so as to set a precedent for when the investigations are launched by the very entity into the many cases of corruption by sitting Ministers.

“They don’t see the big picture…They’re digging a deep hole for themselves…If I’m called in, I will go because we will set a precedent for when they [SOCU] pursue the other investigations. Trust me, they [Government] don’t know what they have just done,” he said, while noting that everything regarding Pradoville 2 lands were done in accordance to the laws of Guyana.

Ali is being represented by Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall.

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