Ex-Finance Minister under the former A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) regime, Winston Jordan is in hot water over a transaction he purportedly conducted, which saw the transferal of multibillion-dollar, Kingston, Georgetown wharf facilities to B.K. Marines Limited, owned by local businessman, Brian ‘BK’ Tiwari.
Jordan was arrested last Thursday by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) for questioning. It cited this particular transaction “as one of several” alleged fraudulent arrangements, in which Jordan is implicated, involving public funds and state properties valued at billions of Guyana dollars. The unit said that the facilities valued at approximately GUY$8 billion (US$40,000,000) were sold for a “mere” GUY$110 million (US $500,000).
It further alleged that B.K. Marines Limited had only paid 10% ($20M) of the purchase price when Jordan reportedly issued a vesting order, passing the title to the company without the payment of any further sum of monies.
The property’s transferal marked the conclusion of a long legal battle between B.K. Marines Limited and successive administrations. The issue has its genesis in the past People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government that sought to evict the company. According to former Public Security Minister and AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan the court urged resolution through settlement, and same was conveyed to Cabinet.
Ramjattan, during recent streaming of “Politics 101” hosted by Dr David Hinds, said that Jordan’s consultation with cabinet effectively transferred the decision to sell upon the shoulders of the then-president, David Granger, since he is the head of Cabinet and the “authority”.
“It is largely a presidential decision. Remember, Ministers are advisors to the president in their respective portfolios where they will have some experience or expertise. And so, the President did ask what do we do, and we indicated – all of us – that it is an opportune moment, if the court is asking for settlement, to settle, and settle on the terms you find best,” he said.
He added, “It is not as if he (Jordan) hid it away from the Cabinet or the President and he went and did his own contracting. He came to the authority…It is effectively a presidential decision…It’s the president’s ultimate authority here because we are mere advisors.”
Ramjattan’s argument shields Jordan but implicates Granger, who has presidential immunity. According to the Constitution, Article 182 (1), subject to the provisions of Article 180, “the holder of the office of the President shall not be personally answerable to any court for the performance of the functions of his or her office or for any act done in the performance of those functions and no proceedings, whether criminal or civil, shall be instituted against him or her in his or her personal capacity in respect thereof either during his or her term of office or thereafter.”