Case to continue today

first_imgSingh, Brassington charges…SOCU ordered to submit additional documentsThe court matters involving former Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and former Chief Executive Officer of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington, will continue today before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.The men are being charged for allegedly selling several plots of land on the East Coast of Demerara to National Hardware Guyana Ltd for over $598 million; Scady Business Corporation at a cost of $150 million, and to Multi-cinemas Guyana Inc at a cost of $185 million.The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) brought the charges against the two former Government officials early last month.However, the men, who both reside overseas, were not in court on Monday. Their respective lawyers instead appeared for them. Chief Magistrate Ann Mc Lennan has set the matter for today, when the prosecution will have to prove to the court that attempts were made to serve summons on both men.SOCU Prosecutor Trenton Lake has claimed that summonses were sent to the last known addresses of both men. However, those summonses were not available to be presented to the court when requested by Magistrate Ann McLennan. As such, the Chief Magistrate has said that any other step by the court can only be taken after the “return of service” is provided.In the three charges advanced by SOCU, it was outlined that Singh, being the Chairman of NICIL, and Brassington, being its CEO, in December of 2008, by way of agreement of sale and purchase, sold to Scady Business Corporation a tract 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 & Associates, a competent valuation officer.”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.”SOCU is contending also that Singh and Brassington, in 2009, by way of an agreement of sale and purchase, sold to the National Hardware Guyana Limited a tract of state land (103 acres), being a portion of Plantations 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.”On Wednesday last, lawyers for SOCU were given one week to file an affidavit in response to show cause why the High Court should not grant an injunction to have an interim stay on lower court proceedings on charges against the two former Government officials.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.Since institution of the charges, a number of legal scholars have commented on the matter. Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran is of the view that the charges may be unconstitutional on the basis that Singh and Brassington are not “public officers” in accordance with the Constitution.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 DPP in a move which Nandall contends is unfair, as he continues to oppose the decision.last_img

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