Judge likely to rule July 30th on challenge to Brassington, Singh charges

Winston Brassington (left) and Ashni Singh

Acting Chief Justice Roxane George is likely to deliver her ruling on July 30th in the action filed by former Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh and former head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Winston Brassington who are challenging misconduct charges levelled against them.

At an in-chamber hearing before her on Friday morning, the judge held a case-management conference in accordance with the new Civil Procedure Rules at which timelines were set for the hearing of the case.

It is against this backdrop that lawyers for the men will be filing their affidavits in answer by June 15th to submissions previously laid over to the court by the Attorney General, against whom the action is brought.

Thereafter, the state has been given leave to respond no later than June 29th and to put in submissions by the 19th of July.

To those submissions, the applicants (Singh and Brassington) will then have to reply on or before July 16th, while the matter is returnable to court for reports on July 30.

Solicitor General Kim Kyte explained that on that date the court will be seeking any needed clarifications on all submissions laid over, while adding that the judge is likely to rule on that day also, once there is no need for clarifications.

Kyte said that she was very pleased with the short timelines for which the new Civil Procedure Rules provides and the fact that there is a likelihood of a decision being rendered expeditiously as well. 

Singh and Brassington have been arraigned on charges of misconduct in public office and have since been granted bail to the tune of $6 million each, by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.

On Monday, however, Justice Franklyn Holder stayed the Magistrate’s Court from further proceeding with the matters against the men until the hearing and determination of the men’s challenge to the charges before the Chief Justice.

The Magistrate’s Court hearing had been set to continue on June 5.

In their action before Justice George, the men are challenging the legality and validity of the charges.

The state’s case is being presented by Kyte, and state counsel Onica Archer-Caulder who have argued that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was in her right to institute the charge.

It is their contention that the applicants are unable to establish any mala fides that the DPP acted in bad faith, or that there were any exceptional circumstances or that the charge was bad in law.

Expressing confidence in their arguments, the SG maintained that the charges are “good in law,” and are provided for under the laws of Guyana in accordance with Common Law.

Singh and Brassington have been jointly arraigned on three charges 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.

 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.

The men are being represented by attorney Anil Nandlall, in association with Ronald Burch-Smith, Sase Gunraj, Stanley Moore and Mark Waldron.  

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