More charges to come against former PPP officials – Ramjattan
Alliance for Change Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan on Friday insisted that there will be more prosecution of former Peoples Progressive Party officials.
At a press conference, Ramjattan said that the AFC is unmoved by reports stating that efforts to prosecute members of the previous Administration are motivated by political witch-hunting; making it clear that it will continue along the same path.
This position was articulated by the party’s Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan, during a press conference at the party’s headquarters on Friday. Ramjattan, who happens to be Public Security Minister, admitted he is well aware of the perception that they were victimizing political opponents.
“I am aware that the prosecution of a predecessor who belongs to a competing political party, is likely to be perceived as politically motivated…,” Ramjattan stated.
“We have evidence, it’s warranted and so it will move on,” he said, adding that “otherwise members of this Government may feel the need to practice selling State properties without the lawful procedures. We cannot allow that.”
In April, the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) had invited Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo to an anti-corruption walk. The Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had declined this invitation, citing several cases which SARA had failed to investigate.
The Party had noted that in the meantime, fabricated charges had been instituted against former Government officials. In declining the invitation, the Opposition Leader said he viewed the walk as it was – a mere “smokescreen” to detract from the grossest violations of the constitutional and statutory provisions regarding financial probity, transparency, and accountability ever witnessed since independence.
Further, he added that he would not participate in such a walk while members of successive PPP/C Governments and other public officials have been discriminated against, victimized, and targeted by a State-sponsored witch-hunt on frivolous, manufactured charges.
In a letter sent to SARA Director, Professor Clive Thomas, Jagdeo stated that the parliamentary Opposition held firmly to this position, which was reflected in the PPP press release of April 14, 2018, that stated, among other things, “after being in office for only three years, the [A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change] APNU/AFC Government can easily be classified as the most corrupt Government in the post-independent English-speaking Caribbean. Indeed, its corruption is only surpassed by its incompetence.”
The letter to Dr Thomas added that “the passage of the SARA Act has given you, sir, enormous, in fact, superpowers – something we abhor as it is in total contravention to human rights and due process – but sir, you have those powers, so why have you taken no action as a so-called anti-corruption champion to bring members of the present Government to book? As they say, clean your own house so that others can see the light and know you are serious about fighting corruption.”
SARA has also worked in tandem with the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). In a highly criticised move last year, SOCU had arrested and questioned a number of top officials from the previous Government. These arrests were in connection to property purchased at the Sparendaam seawall area on the East Coast that is commonly known as “Pradoville 2”.
While the current Administration contends that a transaction is a criminal act because of the belief that the land was sold below market value, the PPP had argued that subsidized housing has always been a part of the legacy of the People’s Progressive Party. The party had stated that countless Guyanese have benefited from lands sold below market value in the nation’s housing drive. No further action was ever pursued against these former officials and the arrests prompted resounding cries of ‘witch hunting’.
Last month, former Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh and former National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Chief Executive Officer Winston Brassington were charged in relation to the sale of three lands to investors.