GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday May 9, 2018 – Former Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and former Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL)/ Privatization Unit, Winston Brassington were yesterday adamant their hands are clean, after appearing in court charged with three counts each of misconduct in public office.
The two went before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and were each granted GY$6 million (US$28,840) bail, as supporters and officials of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) – under whose administration they held their positions – protested outside the court.
A team of eight attorneys represented the duo in the matter that stems from the sale of three plots of government land in 2011.
According to the charges, Dr Singh and Brassington, on May 14, 2011, by way of an agreement of sale and purchase, acted recklessly when they sold Multicinema Guyana Incorporated a 10-acre tract of state land at Turkeyen for GY$185,037,000 (US$893,599) without first having procured a valuation from a competent valuation officer.
They are also accused of selling 103 acres of state land, by an agreement of sale and purchase, to National Hardware Guyana Limited for GY$598,659,398 (US$2.9 million) without first procuring a valuation.
The third and similar charge concerned the sale of 4.7 acres of land for GY$150 million (US$724,400) to Scady Business Corporation, knowing that the said property was valued at GY$340 million (US$1.6 million)
But after their court appearance yesterday, Dr Singh and Brassington argued that their prosecution was a political witch hunt.
“We did no wrong. The evidence speaks for itself. In time, I believe we will be vindicated,” Brassington told reporters.
Dr Singh added that he believes the case will be dismissed if they are given a fair trial.
“If you read the substance of these charges there is absolutely no merit in them. The Guyanese people are far too sophisticated in this modern day and age to be deceived in that manner. I have that confidence. I have no fear, I will go further and say, once these matters are heard they will be disposed of in the manner in which they deserve,” he said.
The two are scheduled to re-appear in court on June 5.
Meantime, one of their attorneys, Anil Nandlall, told reporters today that the men were this morning being questioned about more than ten other land sale matters.