Criminal charges filed against 3 more Govt Ministers

Criminal charges filed against 3 more Govt Ministers

first_img…over controversial D’Urban Park ProjectClose to one week after private criminal charges were filed against two Government Ministers, the Opposition on Monday moved to the courts to file charges against three other Ministers in the coalition Government in relation to the controversial D’Urban Park Project.The private criminal charges were filed against Finance Minister Winston Jordan; Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and Public Service Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, as the Attorney and Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Juan Edghill as an applicant.The charges against the Ministers alleged a breach of the Procurement Act in relation to the expenditure of $906 million in public funds to a private company, Homestretch Development Inc for the construction of the controversial D’Urban Park Project, which has been a contentious issue for some time now.Jordan and Patterson have been jointly charged with misconduct and abuse of public trust for having allegedly authorised the payment, while Dr Roopnaraine, who was a director of the company, has been charged with alleged misconduct and the abuse of public trust for having received in his capacity as director the $906 million in public funds while serving as Minister.The $1 billion project has been cloaked in secrecy and has been considered to be a highly corrupt deal. The public was kept in the dark over the source of financing and the process by which contractors were selected. But after months of intense pressure from the Opposition, a motion was eventually presented in the National Assembly which forced Government to present all facts about the project.It was revealed that a special company was set up to manage the project by collecting donations from the public, both monetary and otherwise (materials and services). At first, Government had pumped $400 million into the project and eventually more was pumped into it, taking the total expenditure to $1 billion.Government had also moved to Parliament to seek $500 million in extra-budgetary spending to pay contractors it owed. But more contractors were still owed close to $200 million for works done at D’Urban Park.The move to file additional charges against Government Ministers comes on the heels of “misconduct in public office contrary to the common law” charges that were filed against former Health Minister, Dr George Norton and current Minister Volda Lawrence.The duo was charged with regard to the sole sourcing of drugs for the Georgetown Public Hospital from ANSA McAL Trading Limited. The other issue pertains to the rental of a house in Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown to be utilised as a drug bond at a cost of $12 million monthly.The move to press private charges against sitting Government Ministers was described by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo as not being “tit for tat” as they were, according to him, a long time coming. Jagdeo had said “this is not the end, we’re not stopping at these two charges, there’re several others who will be charged”, as he addressed the charges filed against Dr Ashni Singh and Winston Brassington.Jagdeo had asserted that if Government charges held merit, then the cases filed by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) would also hold that same weight. “… so if what Ashni Singh and Winston Brassington did, which is follow a Cabinet instruction, is misconducting in a public office… (They followed a Cabinet instruction, and did this…) then these (Ministers’ breaches) are a million times worse because they result in large amounts of money leaving our treasury and going into private people’s pockets, then this has to be misconduct in public office if those are the standards now… If these issues, the cases that we are filing don’t amount to misconduct in public office, nothing can in this country and so we will test it in the courts now.”Summonses were issued for the three Ministers by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan on Monday.The matters were adjourned to April 30, 2018.last_img

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