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Charges against Ashni Singh, Winston Brassington “frivolous” – Jagdeo

Former Finance Minister, Ashni Singh

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo came out in swinging defence of former Finance Minster, Dr. Ashni Singh and former Head of the Privatisation Unit, Winston Brassington who have been charged with misconduct in public office.

“In three years, that’s all you can charge for ? procedural errors and we don’t believe they are procedural errors,” Jagdeo told a news conference.

He said Cabinet accepted a recommendation by the Privatisation Board and made a decision that was sent back to the broad-based Privatisation Board and the Unit for implementation. “It is a Cabinet decision which has been issued back to the Ministry of Finance and to the Privatisation Unit to execute so Brassington or Ashni Singh could not have executed these decisions unless the matter came, the recommendation was approved by the Cabinet,” said Jagdeo who was head of the Cabinet at that time.

With regards to the sale of 103 acres of land to National Hardware Guyana Limited for GY$598,659,398, Jagdeo recalled that there was a public tender advertised including advertisements in he newspapers for almost two months.

Jagdeo said the sale of 10 acres of State land at Turkeyen for GY$185,037 to Multicinema was done after Shri Yogeandra could not conclude a sale for GY$16 million per acre which was the highest bid. “The bid was annulled and 10 acres were sold for GY$20 million which was higher than the bid price,” he said, adding that the remainder of the land had been reserved for the Specialty Hospital and related buildings for the export of medical services.

Unlike A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change administration, he said the People’s Progressive Party government had formulated a policy on sale of government lands.

Declaring that the charges against Brassington and Singh were “frivolous” to plaster their faces in the media to satisfy “some of their hardcore supporters because they can’t go back to the communities and say we lied to you”.

The charges were not read by Chief Magistrate, Ann Mc Lennan because the two defendants were not in court. However, a Special Organised Crime Unit investigator swore to the evidence.

Then Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington during a media briefing one day before he left Guyana on 21st December, 2015.

The Magistrate deferred the case until May 7, 2018 to allow the lawyers- Anil Nandlall for Singh and Winston Moore for Winston Brassington- to consult properly with their clients and also give the accused a chance to appear in court.

The Opposition Leader said the David Granger-led administration was yet to charge anyone from the previous People’s Progressive Party Civic administration for  stealing money although 50 forensic audits had been conducted.

“Despite all that they say about them, they have more integrity in their little finger than many of those ministers in their entire bodies,” said Jagdeo. He added that the former Finance Minister and the former Head of the Privatisation Unit were “struggling”.

On the other hand, Jagdeo vowed that “definitely there will be investigations” by independent persons and charges would be laid if there is substantial proof of corruption.