Last Updated on Friday, 28 October 2016, 16:36 by Denis Chabrol
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, said today, that special prosecution teams will be set up to prepare reports that will ensure effective and efficient prosecution of criminal charges into the Sparendaam Housing Project, known as Pradoville Two and the operations of the Guyana Cricket World Cup Inc.
Addressing the media at a post-cabinet briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency, Harmon explained that on October 25, cabinet was recently presented with the report of the two forensic audits, the Sparendaam Housing Project and the operations of the Guyana Cricket World Cup Inc., by Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan.
Harmon said that on examination of the reports, cabinet concluded that in both cases there are indications of criminal culpabilities that required further investigations.
Cabinet therefore agreed that in each case, a Special Prosecution Team would be established and that Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams will submit a report to Cabinet within one week on the composition of the teams.
The Minister said that the reports would also be handed over to the Guyana Police Force (GPF) for criminal investigations to commence into the matters.
Questioned about the composition of the Special Prosecution Team, Harmon said that the make-up will not be limited to just local personnel. “We are going to have a wider sweep and we are looking to bring persons who are capable of handling these matters… people who are trained at building a criminal case,” the minister was quoted as saying by the Government Information Agency (GINA)
Noting that Guyana continues to get offers of assistance to prosecute these cases, not just from the region but out of the region, Harmon said this is “because the question of corruption, the question of transparency in government, is something that is international.”
The minister was also asked why the matters were not being handled by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) and were instead being handed over to the police for criminal investigations.
Harmon explained that “these are criminal investigations and therefore the decision is that this goes to the police and the police decide whether it is SOCU or the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) will deal with it.” He added that as far as Cabinet is concerned, “the matter should be investigated by the criminal investigation elements within the Guyana Police Force.”
One of the disclosures in relation to the Sparendaam Housing Project, was that there are plots of lands that were transferred at prices that were not of market prices.
According to Harmon, “the valuation that was given was unusual for that time and for that location.”
Harmon said that the audit also looked at the transfer of a particular piece of land not too far from Pradoville 2, “for the price at which it was transferred and then compared that to the price at which the members of the previous administration also gifted themselves those portion of lands.”
The case of the Sparendaam property, known as ‘Pradoville Two’, located on the East Coast of Demerara, had drawn widespread criticisms from the public after the details came to light that the NCN transmitters were removed to facilitate an exclusive scheme with lots being sold for as low as GYD$1.5M to members and supporters of the People Progressive Party (PPP.)
The State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU), had recommended charges against former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, and a number of ex-ministers over the allocation and sale of the lands.
The investigations into the operations of the Guyana Cricket World Cup Inc. had to do with the glaring irregularities into sums by the local organising committee in meeting expenditures relating to the hosting of the 2007 International Cricket World Cup In Guyana.