SOCU advised to do additional work in ‘Pradoville 2’ probe

The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) has been advised to do some additional work for the ‘Pradoville 2’ investigation, including getting an independent evaluation of the lands allocated, sources says.

It is expected that once the additional work is done, the legal advisors will make a definitive pronouncement on whether or not charges can be laid over the sale of land in the housing scheme at below market value.

Stabroek News was reliably informed by a source close to the investigation that after looking at the file submitted by SOCU investigators, the force’s legal advisors returned it and asked that additional work be done pertaining to the land evaluation, as well as in relation to the allocation of the lots.

This is expected to be done shortly and the file will then be returned to the legal advisors for a decision.

A special investigation of the housing development, 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 former PPP/C Housing Minister Irfaan Ali and it was concluded that a criminal case for misfeasance could be made against the PPP/C Cabinet members who benefited.

It was stated that of the 28 lots, totalling 12.1187 acres, only 3.9693 acres remain unallocated. It was explained that lots were allocated to six Cabinet members—former president Bharrat Jagdeo, cabinet secretary Dr Roger Luncheon and ministers Priya Manickchand, Dr Jennifer Westford, Robert Persaud and Clement Rohee—along with other persons with connections to the government, including Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack and former army head Gary Best.

The probe found that the awardees grossly underpaid for the lots by a total of nearly $250 million, while the state-owned National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited, National Communications Network, and Guyana Power and Light Inc were never reimbursed for millions spent to execute preparatory works.

The matter was later sent to SOCU for a criminal probe to be launched. Retired judge Claudette Singh, the DPP’s chambers and a team of special prosecutors that the government selected have all been advising SOCU on the matter.

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