Fraud charges against Irfaan Ali withdrawn because he is now President

Last Updated on Friday, 14 August 2020, 11:15 by Denis Chabrol

FLASH BACK: Former Minister of Housing, Water and Tourism, Irfan Ali at SOCU’s headquarters.

The Guyana Police Force’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) Friday morning withdrew the 19 fraud charges against Irfaan Ali because he is now President and is automatically immune from prosecution, Special Prosecutor Patrice Henry said.

“The case was withdrawn because SOCU is no longer interested in pursuing the matter because of the office he now holds,” Mr. Henry told News-Talk Radio/ Demerara Waves Online News.

He explained that even without going to the Court of Appeal, there is an automatic stay.

Mr. Henry said assuming the President Ali serves two five year terms, the assumption is that the prosecution’s case would be weakened by the eventual absence of witnesses.

The SOCU Special Prosecutor further explained that based on “good governance issues” the President’s eligibility for visas would have been adversely affected if the charges were not withdrawn.

He had been slapped with 18 charges of conspiring to defraud government of a total of GYD$174 million by selling land below their valued prices.

Ali  had faced 19 indictable charges for conspiring with unknown persons to sell lands at Goedveragting-Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara to recklessly sell the house lots for GYD$39.8 million. The Guyana Police Force Special Organised Crime Unit said the lands were actually valued a total of GYD$212.4 million at the time of their sale mostly in 2010 and 2011.

Among those, SOCU had said in its charges who got lands at significantly reduced purchase prices were then President Bharrat Jagdeo and former Public Service Minister Dr. Jennifer Westford.

Figures show that Jagdeo in September, 2010 bought a parcel of land for GYD$2.3 million although its value is GYD$10.6 million. He also bought another parcel GYD$7.5 million although it was valued at GYD$32.7 million.