Judge to rule Monday on bid for stay of magistrate’s court charge against Singh, Brassington

Winston Brassington Ashni Singh

Justice Franklyn Holder is expected to rule on Monday on the application made by former Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh and former Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington, to stay the Magistrate’s Court from proceeding with charges of alleged misconduct in public office against them.

In a more than three-hour in-chamber hearing yesterday afternoon, the judge heard arguments from both the men’s attorneys and lawyers for the state—each side respectively advancing why the application should and should not be granted.

After hearing those arguments, Justice Holder adjourned the matter to Monday for ruling.

Attorney Anil Nandlall, one of the attorneys representing the men, had previously made, but was denied an oral interim application for the proceedings to be stayed until the determination of their challenge to the actual charges laid against them.

That hearing, in which they are challenging the “legality and validity” of the charges, comes up for hearing next Friday before acting Chief Justice Roxane George.

With the interim stay application having been denied, Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan proceeded with the arraignment of the men who were last Tuesday placed on $6M bail each after being read three counts of misconduct in public office.

Both Singh and Brassington who live and work outside of Guyana, flew into the country shortly before being scheduled to appear before the Chief Magistrate. They had been absent from previous hearings set by the court.

Nandlall had argued that at no time were his clients personally served with summonses to attend court.

The men have been jointly charged with three counts of misconduct in public office over the sale of three tracts of government land on the East Coast of Demerara, between December, 2008 and May, 2011. In one instance, it is alleged that the property was sold below market value, while in the other two the deals went ahead without proper valuations of the land.

The charges stem from criminal investigations conducted by SOCU into the findings of a forensic audit of NICIL.

It is alleged that Singh and Brassington sold a tract of land, being 4.7 acres at Plantation Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, which was the property of Guyana, for the sum of $150 million to Scady Business Corporation, while knowing that the property was valued at $340 million by Rodrigues Architects Limited.

It is also alleged that by way of agreement of sale and purchase, they acted recklessly when they sold a tract of land, which was a portion of Plantation Liliendaal, Pattensen and Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara, being 103.88 acres, to National Hardware Guyana Limited for $598,659,398 (VAT exclusive), without having a valuation of the property from a competent valuation officer.

It was also alleged that they acted recklessly when they sold a 10-acre tract of land at Plantation Turkeyen, which was the property of Guyana, for the sum of $185,037,000 to Multicinemas Guyana Inc, without procuring a valuation of the said property from a competent valuation officer.

Representing the state in the challenge before Justice Holder are Solicitor General Kim Kyte, in association with attorneys Judy Stuart-Adonis, Oneka Archer-Caulder and Teshanna James-Lake.

Meanwhile, Singh and Brassington are being represented by Nandlall, in association with attorneys Stanley Moore, Sase Gunraj, Ronald Burch-Smith and Mark Waldron.

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