Jagdeo Calls Charges ‘Frivolous’
GEORGETOWN, GUYANA — Former Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh and former Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington were on Thursday charged in absentia with three counts of misconduct in public office.
They have been given three weeks to return to Guyana and make an appearance at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court to answer charges related to their time in office.
Dr. Singh and Mr. Brassington were charged following investigations by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), with gross misconduct in public office.
According to a News Source Guyana online news report, the matter came up before Chief Magistrate Ann Mclennan in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. The Court heeded requests from SOCU for the two gentlemen to be given time to make an appearance and answer to the charges.
The Chief Magistrate adjourned the case until May 7th when Dr. Singh and Mr. Brassington are expected to be there.
There were no details read in relation to the charge against the duo but Newssource said it understands that it includes the findings of more than one forensic audits that were conducted by the coalition government after the PPP was voted out of office at the May 2015 general elections.
Those audits have recommended charges for persons fingered in cases of malpractice, particularly as it relates to the sale of state lands and property.
Dr. Singh and Mr. Brassington left Guyana shortly after the 2015 elections and are believed to be living in Dubai and Florida respectively.
SOCU had reportedly been trying to get in contact with the duo over the last two years as it conducted its investigation.
Already, charges have been laid against several other government officials under the previous government for malpractice in public office which those very audits uncovered.
Singh and Brassington were represented by attorney at law Stanley Moore. Michael Somersall is prosecuting on behalf of SOCU.
Jagdeo Says Charges are ‘Frivolous’ and Intended to Please Hardcore Government Supporters
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday described as “frivolous”, the charges filed against former Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and former NICIL Head Winston Brassington related to misconduct in public office, News Source reported.
Jagdeo said he was President at the time and therefore he accepts responsibility for the errors related to the sales, since the sales would have been approved by the Cabinet that he chaired.
According to News Source, he said the two men could not have set the price and execute the sale on their own and maintains that it was his cabinet that grant approval for the sale, even suggesting that perhaps the entire former Cabinet should be before the Courts.
He said that he is not surprised that after all of the talk by the current government about locking up members of the former government, they are resorting to “frivolous” charges.
“Where are the billions we were supposed to steal? That’s all you can charge on, procedural errors?” he questioned, according to News Source.
Jagdeo was reported as saying he is surprised that SOCU has left out other large land transactions that took place around the same time, but he is convinced that the charges were only laid by the Government in its effort to please some hardcore supporters.