Last Updated on Monday, 23 April 2018, 16:01 by Denis Chabrol
Three government ministers were Monday charged with misconduct in public office in connection with the alleged use of public funds for the construction of D’urban/Jubilee Park in 2016 without public procurement, based on evidence sworn by People’s Progressive Party (PPP) parliamentarian, Juan Edghill.
Chief Magistrate, Ann Mc Lennan issued summons for Finance Minister, Winston Jordan; Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, and former Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine to appear in court on April 30, 2018.
Edghill accused Jordan and Patterson of having “willfully misconducted themselves in a way which amounted to an abuse of public trust without reasonable excuse or justification, when they paid or authorised to be paid” GY$906 million being public funds to Homestretch Development Incorporated and contractors engaged by Homstretch Development Incorporated for an on behalf of the Guyana government for works purportedly done to and at a D’urban Park “without any form of procurement process as prescribed by law.”
In the joint charge, they were alleged to have committed the offence between December 14, 2016 and March 31, 2017.
As then Minister of Education, Dr. Roopnaraine is accused of having “willfully misconducted himself in a way which amounted to an abuse of public trust without reasonable excuse or justification, by acting as a Director of the Homestretch Development Incorporated when that company received from the Ministry of Finance, GY$906 million “being public funds, for works purportedly done to D’urban Park “without any form of procurement process as prescribed by law.”
He is alleged to have committed that offence between December 14, 2016 and March 31, 2017.
The charges against the Finance, Public Infrastructure and Public Service Ministers now brings to five the number of government ministers to have been charged with misconduct in public office in less than one week.
The others are Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence and former Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton. Lawrence is charged in connection with her alleged instructions to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation to purchase more than GY$600 million worth of drugs from Ansa McAl without first going through the procurement process.
Norton is charged with the rental of a building at Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown for GY$14 million for use as a pharmaceutical bond outside of the public procurement process.
Levelling of the charges against the government ministers follows charges by the Special Organised Crime Unit of the Guyana Police Force against former Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh and former Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited, Winston Brassington in connection with the sale of three large parcels of land for just over GY$900 million apparently without applying the valuation process.
Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall has since asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to review and possibly quash the charges against Singh and Brassington.