Former AG representing Ashni Singh in SOCU probe

first_img…Jagdeo reluctant to have official return for questioningFormer Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, in face of the interest directed his way by the Guyana Police Force’s Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU), has secured the services of his former Cabinet colleague, former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall.Former NICIL HeadWinston BrassingtonDr Ashni SinghNandlall communicated news of this development yesterday to SOCU Chief, Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Sidney James.An official missive dispatched by the law offices of Mohabir A. Nandlall & Associates to SOCU head, Lieutenant Colonel (rtd) Sidney James, read: “Although my client is out of the jurisdiction, he always was and remains accessible, ready, able and willing to provide all, or any information at his disposal which your Unit may require.”Recent media reports have suggested that SOCU may be looking for Dr Singh, the Finance Minister and NICIL (National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited) Chairman during the Donald Ramotar Administration.SOCU is also reportedly focusing on the then NICIL Executive Director, Winston Brassington.Former President Bharrat Jagdeo on Tuesday expressed hesitancy in supporting efforts to have the two men — both of whom are out of the jurisdiction — return to Guyana to be at the disposal of SOCU, since that body has become a political outfit. Jagdeo told media operatives at his Church Street Office on Tuesday, “The thing is that these people can’t be there, put their whole lives on hold; because SOCU — one morning, every time the Opposition criticizes the Government — will get a call from (Attorney General) Basil Williams or (Public Security Minister) Khemraj (Ramjattan) or (Public Health Minister) Volda Lawrence to go after Ashni Singh or Nandlall for that day.”According to the Opposition Leader, “That is how the SOCU is operating; they getting calls, regular calls from Government (Ministers).”He has, in fact, suggested that the Commissioner of Police has been sidelined from command of the unit that is supposed to be under his purview. “You hear ministers talking about who will get lock up. Ministers have no line responsibility over SOCU…It comes through the Commissioner (of Police).”Jagdeo has posited that SOCU is entirely being used by the political directorate to pursue a witch-hunt. “It’s a pure witch-hunt. SOCU has been converted into a PNC (Peoples National Congress) outfit to go after PPP officials; not drug dealers, not money launderers, not anyone else, but to go after PPP people.”The Opposition Leader is adamant that the PPP will “continue to oppose the witch-hunt.”In seeking to qualifying his position, Jagdeo said the political direction being handed down to SOCU “is so blatant that when they (are) in Parliament, they (are) doing it all the time. Every time they get (criticized) and feel embarrassed about an issue, they say, ‘Watch out for SOCU next week! It is so blatant.”Jagdeo has also declared his support for former NICIL Executive Director Winston Brassington by pointing to the questionable audit that was conducted by former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran, a pro-coalition supporter.According to the former President, the witch hunt is persisting and the two identified victims for the weekend were Brassington and Dr Singh.He referred to a public missive written by Brassington in light of the media reports, “where he (Brassington) pointed out that he had responded paragraph by paragraph to Goolsarran’s audit, if we can call it an audit, because it’s more like a propaganda document.” The former President suggested that an impartial editor would juxtapose Brassington’s response with the actual audit findings presented by Goolsarran, “and then you will see how deficient his audit was.”Jagdeo observed that, given the history of the audit and how it was handled in the public domain, “that would be the only fair thing to do.”The Opposition Leader reminded that the audit report was first leaked to the media before it was even turned over to the NICIL staff to provide a formal response, after which there was a ceremony to publicly hand over the report to the Police.“Why would you need to publicly hand over an audit report to the police if it was not done only for propaganda value?” Jagdeo questioned.last_img