Police advisor reviewing proposed `Pradoville 2’ charges

-Jagdeo sees vindictiveness

Even as the police legal advisor continues to look at the recommendations made on laying charges in the `Pradoville 2’ land case, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday maintained that the continuous pursuit of this matter is nothing but vindictiveness.
Jagdeo, who was at the time speaking at a press conference held at his Church Street office, told reporters that the setting of prices for the lands bought, among other issues, will be ventilated in and determined by the court.
Jagdeo; former head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon; former natural resources minister Robert Persaud; Lisaveta Ramotar, who is the General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board and daughter of former president Donald Ramotar; Ramesh Dookhoo, former Chairman of the Private Sector Commission; Dr Ghansham Singh; Marcia Nadir-Sharma, former Deputy Director of state holding company NICIL; Former prime minister Samuel Hinds; former housing minister Irfaan Al;, former home minister Clement Rohee, former education minister Priya Manickchand; former Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Water Incorporated Shaik Baksh; former public service minister Dr Jennifer Westford; former presidential press officer Kwame McCoy and former head of the Office for Climate Change Andrew Bishop; Director of Public Prosecutions Shalimar Ali-Hack and her husband, Moeen ul-Hack; as well as former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force Gary Best were all are questioned by Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) investigators. The unit is investigating the sale of land at ‘Pradoville 2’ at below market prices. Most of those questioned were sold land and several including Jagdeo presently resides there.
Jagdeo was asked yesterday whether he was willing to concede that the persons that benefited from the sale got a good deal when compared with the land sold to private developers. He did not directly respond before stating that he did not want to comment on the report of charges.
“This government is vindictive and my view is largely because of the claims they made and they continue to make….(which are) not substantiated by evidence…they should be able to say…here are some of the proceeds from the narco economy that we find this in these sectors and this is the action we have taken to clean it up”, he said.
Jagdeo said that if you ask “you gonna hear oh we working on something…so where do they go? They go after Pradoville but with Pradoville they have been saying this even before they got into office. They didn’t discover Pradoville couple days ago. They knew I was living there, my house is there. They knew the price of the land long before”, he said adding that government is pursuing the Pradoville matter to give their supporters the impression that they are going after corruption.
He stressed that the Pradoville matter will be determined in the court.
Stabroek News was informed by sources yesterday that SOCU upon completion of their investigation recommended that a number of persons under investigation be charged. The file, along with the recommendations, this newspaper was told was forwarded to the police legal adviser Justice Claudette Singh on Monday. Queries made on Thursday revealed that the file was still in the possession of Justice Singh.
This newspaper understands however that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the team of special prosecutors also have to make an input before the matter goes before the court.
Concerns have been raised about the office of the DPP’s involvement in the matter given that the DPP herself is a subject of the investigation.
A special investigation of the Sparendaam Housing Project, which was part of a larger probe of the financial operations of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) was conducted by accounting firm Ram & McRae.
The investigation revealed that the allocation of the land was a clandestine arrangement that was handled personally by Ali and it was concluded that a criminal case for misfeasance could be made against the PPP/C Cabinet members who benefited.
The forensic audit, found that awardees grossly underpaid for the lots by a total of nearly $250 million, while the state-owned National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), National Communications Network (NCN) and Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) were never reimbursed for millions spent to execute preparatory works.
“Our examination leads to the conclusion that the project was done outside of the established procedures and that Minister (Ali) piloted every aspect of the transaction without recourse to the Authority. While the minister has considerable powers under the Housing Act, his role in the issue of titles was well outside of his functions and powers,” the final report said.
The report added that the awardees made payments to the CH&PA but these were significantly lower than the market value. “No files were maintained by CHPA for any of the plots allocated by a process that can be described as lacking transparency at best,” it further said.