SOCU manipulating steps to charge Jagdeo as former Finance Minister – Nandlall

first_imgAnother arrest of a former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government Minister has again sparked a debate about the motive behind these arrests by the Special organised Crime Unit (SOCU), and by extension, the David Grange-led Administration, which according to former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, is geared towards damaging the reputation of political opponents of the Government.He said the recent arrest of former Finance Minister Sasenarine Kowlessar came as no surprise to members of the Opposition as they have always felt that the motive has been clear from day one. “It is clear beyond any doubt that these investigations are driven by a political and vindictive motive.”Nandlall said, ultimately, this strategy is designed to get to the period when Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo was the Finance Minister. Jagdeo served as senior Finance Minister in May 1995 under Dr Cheddi Jagan. In December 1997, he was appointed as the second Vice President.While noting that constitutional immunities prevent them from charging Jagdeo while he was President, Nandlall is of the opinion that the coalition Government will go as far as it takes, even if it means going as far back as two decades to persecute him for transactions done while he was Finance Minister.But Nandlall said what is interesting to note is this period saw the sale of National Bank of Industry and Commerce Limited’s shares to Republic Bank, the sale of Stock Feeds and Neocal to Robert Badal, and the sale of Guyana Stores Limited to Tony Yassin; all of which are now labelled as “corrupt transactions.”Further, the MP feels the Government may not stop at Jagdeo but could see former Finance Minister Asgar Ally being questioned as well. “What I do know is that they will stop at October 5, 1992,” he added.“So they will not investigate the sale of Guyana Telecommunications Corporation to ATN; they will not investigate the sale of Demerara Timbers Limited, or the sale of over seven State-owned rice mills, or the sale of the National Paint Company or the sale to Carl Greenidge, while he was Minister of Finance, of a property at Bel-Air Gardens by NICIL – none of which was the subject of any form of tender and none of which were sold pursuant to any valuation certificates, or even at market value.”However, he reiterated that there is a principle of law which prevents investigations of certain transactions that took place several years ago, on the ground that it is unfair and against public policy to do so because of the lapse of time.“The rationale is that if persons were to be charged as a result of those investigations, it would amount to an abuse of process to subject those persons to a trial because of the lapse of memory, absence of evidence and absence of witnesses, etc,” he explained.He noted all of these will militate against an accused person having a fair trial which is guaranteed as a constitutional right because the law recognises that such a person may be unable to adequately defend himself in the circumstances. In addition to that, the local justice system protects against such eventuality in preservation of the doctrine of presumption of innocence.Nandlall therefore concluded that it is unfortunate that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) does not see it as part of its constitutional mandate to protect the citizenry from these types of investigations, which are widely regarded as abusive and oppressive, but rather is part of the design that is promoting it. “If this is not the use of the criminal legal process to persecute political opponents, then I do not know what it is. Perhaps you can assist me,” he added.Sasenarine Kowlessar, who was recently arrested and questioned by SOCU, served as Jagdeo’s Finance Minister from 1999 to 2006. Prior to Kowlessar’s arrest, Dr Ashni Singh – also a former Finance Minister, and NICIL’s CEO were arrested, charged and placed on bail.The duo was charged for alleged misconduct in public office for the sale of several plots of land on the East Coast of Demerara without a valuation exercise. Jagdeo has declared that all three charges against Singh and Brassington are frivolous, and all three matters were approved by the Cabinet.The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is yet to respond to a written request by Nandlall to review the charges against Singh and Brassington. Yet, similar charges instituted by the PPP against five sitting Government Ministers have, on the other hand, been thrown out by the DPP.last_img read more