Appeal Court Judge Dawn Gregory this morning refused to grant a stay of proceedings as it relates to the 19 fraud charges that were instituted against People Progressive Party (PPP) presidential candidate Irfaan Ali. Ali is accused of selling several plots of land, during his time as Minister of Housing, way below the market price to public officials, including former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
During an in-chamber hearing this morning at the Court of Appeal in Kingston, Justice Gregory refused the application for a stay which was made by Anil Nandlall, attorney-at-law for Ali. The judge’s ruling now paves the way for Ali to be tried in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts. The case comes up for hearing on Monday, August 26 before Chief Magistrate Ann Mc Lennan.
Last November, Ali was arrested and slapped with 19 charges by the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU), an arm of the Guyana Police Force. He has now moved to the Court of Appeal where he is challenging Justice Franklin Holder’s refusal to grant a stay of the proceedings before the Magistrates’ Courts.
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.
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.
Furthermore, Ali is alleged to have sold lands to 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 Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Guyana, Compton Bourne and Andrew Bishop, former Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission.
Safraaz Khan and George Halla were also said to be in receipt of plots of land that were allegedly sold by Ali.
The charges against Ali came months after SOCU 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. Attorney-at-law Patrice Henry is prosecuting these matters on behalf of SOCU.