Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan will now have to go ahead with the 19 fraud charges against People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) presidential candidate Irfaan Ali following the ruling of High Court Judge Franklin Holder that the charges are correct in law and result in no breach of constitutional rights.
Ali, who is accused of selling 19 state lands to high ranking officials, had approached the High Court to ask for the charges to be quashed. He cited, among other grounds, that the charges do not constitute an offence known to the Laws of Guyana.
However, yesterday when the matter was called, Justice Holder ruled that Ali does not have the constitutional right not to be charged. Against this backdrop, the Judge dismissed Ali’s challenge to the legality of the charges. Ali returns before the Chief Magistrate on August 26.
Ali is accused of selling the lands to former President Bharrat Jagdeo, Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon; former ministers Priya Manickchand, Dr Jennifer Westford, Robert Persaud, and Clement Rohee; Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack; and former army Head Gary Best.
He also allegedly sold the lands to Lisaveta Ramotar, the former General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board, who is the daughter of former President Donald Ramotar.
Former President of the Private Sector Commission, Ramesh Dookhoo; son of former Labour Minister Dr Nanda Gopaul; Dr Ghansham Singh; former Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Chief Executive Officer, Rajendra Singh; former President of the the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Guyana, Compton Bourne; Andrew Bishop, former Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission; Safraaz Khan; and George Halla were also cited as recipients of plots of land.
It is alleged that Ali, between 2011 and 2015, conspired with persons unknown to defraud the Government of Guyana by acting recklessly when he sold 19 plots of land at Plantation Sparendaam and Goedverwagting.
The 38-year-old was not required to make a plea to any of the indictable charges.
The charges against Ali came months after SOCU, an arm of the Police Force, completed its investigation into the allocation of lands at ‘Pradoville Two’ to Cabinet members of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic Administration and their close associates.
It was reported that Ali personally handled the transactions of the State Lands to his friends of the PPP/C’s former Cabinet members.
A forensic audit was conducted which revealed that the recipients grossly underpaid for the lots by a total of nearly $250M. It was stated that of the 28 lots totalling 12.1187 acres, only 3.9693 acres remain unallocated. The matter is being prosecuted by SOCU Prosecutor, Patrice Henry.