by Gary Eleazar
Former Attorney, General Anil Nandlall was today (April 24, 2017) questioned by ranks of the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) of the Guyana Police Force over 14 Commonwealth Law Report books, he claims are now worth some US$2,000—less than his two cellular phones.
Nandall has since called the actions, a form of retribution on the part of the substantive Attorney General, Basil Williams and is but the latest in the escalating public vendetta between the two.
Following his release by SOCU, Nandlall appeared at a hastily called press conference along with Attorney-at-Law and former Government Minister Priya Manickhand and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo at the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) Headquarters at Freedom House on Robb Street.
The trio denounced the ‘politically motivated’ actions on the part of SOCU as nothing but a ‘sideshow.’
Nandlall, today again conceded ownership and possession of the 14 Law report books, but told media operatives the books are currently under lock and key at a premises he is unable to access.
He explained that the person with the keys is overseas and would not return until tomorrow and this was related to the SOCU ranks that were already armed with a warrant to take possession of the books.
Relaying today’s sequence of events Nandlall told reporters that shortly after 09:00hrs this morning when he exited the Vigilance Court, he noticed several missed calls from “Trevor Reid” on the SOCU ranks.
According to Nandlall the rank informed him he was wanted for questioning in relation to the law books.
The former Attorney General told reporters he presented himself and was made to give a statement before he was released.
According to Nandlall, the arrangement involving the law books were made known to Attorney General Williams ever since the two met as part of the continuity process.
He insists, among the things discussed was the arrangement he had with the Donald Ramotar Govenrment prior to his appoirmnent
That arrangement, according to Nandlall, was confined to existing subscription, the law reports of the commonwealth which is published in London.
He has since dismissed the entire affair as having nothing to do with the subscription for the books he obtained during his tenure in the substantive position as part of his contract.
Nandlall insists the interrogation by SOCU was in fact borne out of the very public feuding between himself and the Attorney General.
He points recent lawsuits brought against the Attorney General Williams along with the now infamous court room ‘outburst’ involving Justice Franklin Holder, actions brought against Indira Anandjeet—the Permanent Secretary appointed under his tenured and accusations of missing computer parts among a host of other investigations.
Nandlall told reporters the SOCU ranks after questioning him, informed him that the investigations would be continued after which he released on his own recognizance.
He is adamant of having been cleared of any financial or other wrongdoing during his stint in the office, as can be attested in the forensic audits that were ordered into the Ministry following its
May 2015 victory.
Pointing to a clear case of political persecution, Nandlall told reporters SOCU has as its mandate targeting financial crimes and that the investigation relation to 14 Law Books did not amount to financial crimes the likes of which warrants SOCU’s intervention.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, also on hand with Nandlall, called the actions on the part of SOCU and the administration and sideshow, “apart from the fact that SOCU now seems to be operating under directions from some ministers of the government.”
Nandlall’s attorney, former Education Minister Priya Manickchand, also joined her colleagues at the press engagement and said it was government’s failure to manage the country which has them led to it resorting to using legitimate arms of the state to target PPP members.
Weighing in directly on the allegations against Nandlall, Opposition Leader Jagdeo told reporters “from what I gather they (books) can be purchased for US$2,000.”
Jagdeo said this, becomes the big acts of corruption that coalition government is targeting, “when they had claimed the PPP stole over $305B.”
The former president repeated his charge that it was the now government which had claimed the PPP members stole and stashed billions overseas but when he called for an international firm, to pursue all government officials, current and past, the administration backpedalled.
He said by arresting Nandlall over law books the administration is looking merely to deflect from its mismanagement of the economy as was evident during the party’s recent outreaches to a number of hinterland areas.
The law books in question were obtained by Nandlall during his tenure in office, in an arrangement where the state paid the subscription fees for his law books—fees which amounted to just about $1.5M.