Yet another adjournment has been granted in the case against People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) presidential candidate Irfaan Ali, who was slapped with 19 fraud charges involving state lands that he allegedly sold to high ranking officials.
This morning, when the matter was called in the courtroom of Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan, attorney-at-law Anil Nandlall requested a further adjournment to facilitate the hearing and determination of another application before the Court of Appeal, to have the charges stayed.
The attorney indicated to the court that the hearing is set to commence on November 26, as the case will be given priority.
Nandlall recently renewed the application for a stay at the Appellate Court after Appeal Court Judge Dawn Gregory refused to grant a stay of proceedings as it relates to the 19 fraud charges that were instituted against Ali.
However, Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) Prosecutor, Patrice Henry told that court that the prosecution is prepared to commence the Preliminary Inquiry( PI), as the charges are indictable, meaning that Ali was not allowed to enter a plea.
The Chief Magistrate, after listening to both sides, adjourned the matter until November 29, for a report.
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.
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 former General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board, who is the daughter of former President Donald Ramotar, Lisaveta 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 19 indictable matters after they were read to him.
The charges against Ali come 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.