DRUG BOND RENTAL: Former Public Health Minister Dr. George Norton charged with misconduct in public office

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 April 2021, 16:41 by Denis Chabrol

FLASHBACK Then Public Health Minister, Dr. George Norton addressing a news conference on the controversial pharmaceutical bond.

Former Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, was on Tuesday charged with misconduct in public office by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) related to the rental of a pharmaceutical bond,, the Guyana Police Force said.

Dr. Norton appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Georgetown Magistrates Court, where he was not required to plead to the charges as they were indictable.
Norton was represented by attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes and Marissa Leander. He was placed on $400,000 bail, required to lodge his passport and the matter was adjourned to April 27, 2021.

An audit with respect to the rental of the Lot 29 Sussex Street, Albouystown warehouse facility, and which covered the period 1st July, 2016 to 30th June, 2019 was conducted by the Audit Office of Guyana.

Pursuant to that audit, police said he matter was then forwarded to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) where investigations revealed that in 2016, the then Minister of Public Health Dr. George Norton allegedly  had unlawfully instructed Trevor Thomas (Permanent Secretary) of the said Ministry not to engage the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) with respect to the tender and/or any submission of any justification for a single source award to Linden Holding Inc. for the rental of the Lot 29 Sussex Street, Albouystown warehouse facility, for storage of pharmaceuticals, in accordance with the Procurement Act. Cap. 73:01.

It was unearthed that Dr Norton further allegedly instructed Mr.  Thomas to prepare a Cabinet Memorandum for him to take to Cabinet for its deliberation on the matter.

The Guyana Police Force said Mr. Thomas received a copy of Cabinet’s decision awarding a contract to Linden Holding Inc. for the rental of its property located at Lot 29 Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown, for storage of pharmaceuticals.

Police said Mr.. Thomas was further instructed by Dr. Norton to sign the contract for the rental of the Sussex Street Bond which he did.

The Agreement of Tenancy was made on the 20th July 2016 between Linden Holding Inc., and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, for a period of three years commencing 1st June 2016, at a monthly rent of  GYD$12.5 million.

Police said an advance payment of  GYD$37.5 million was paid to Linden Holding Inc. This payment represents 2 months’ rent and 1 month’s security deposit.