Alleged misconduct in public office: Jordan placed on 5-day bed rest – lawyer tells SOCU
After falling ill while being questioned by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) on Thursday, former Finance Minister under the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration, Winston Jordan has been placed on bed rest for five days.
Jordan was arrested by SOCU, which is the Guyana Police Force’s arm that specialises in white-collar investigations, as part of investigations into alleged instances of corrupt governmental transactions between 2015 and 2020.
During his time at SOCU on Thursday, the former Minister was escorted to the Sparendaam Police Station for further questioning but while there he complained of “feeling unwell” and he was rushed to the Plaisance Health Centre. He was later released upon the intervention of his lawyers – Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde and Attorney Darren Wade – and instructed to return to SOCU the following day.
However, on Friday, the agency was informed that doctors had placed Jordan on bed rest.
“…the Attorney called and reported that he was sick, and was given 5 days bed rest by his doctor,” Head of Head of SOCU, Fazil Karimbaksh, told Guyana Times on Friday.
He noted no further instructions were given for future actions.
Initial reports on Thursday revealed that Jordan was arrested as part of a criminal investigation into “misconduct in public office”.
In a subsequent statement later in the day, SOCU disclosed that the former Finance Minister was invited to visit the agency’s Camp Road, Georgetown Head Office for questioning in relation to a series of alleged fraudulent transactions in which he was implicated, involving public funds and State properties estimated to be valued billions of Guyana dollars.
These include the sale and vesting of the State’s largest wharf facilities located at Kingston, Georgetown, valued at approximately $8 billion (US$40,000,000) which was sold for a mere $110 million (US$500,000).
That property was sold to BK Marines Limited, owned by businessman Brian Tiwari, who was also hauled in for questioning on Thursday regarding his acquisition of the prime waterfront properties in Kingston, Georgetown.
According to SOCU, the company had only paid 10 per cent of the purchase price, that is, $20 million (US$100,000) and Jordan, as then Finance Minister, went ahead to issue a vesting order passing the title to the purchaser without the payment of any further sum of monies.
“The vesting order stated that the property is being sold free from encumbrance and liabilities and no further sum of money is owed by the purchaser. Transport was subsequently issued for this property and the value strangely stated on the transport was GUY $400,000,000 million (US 2,000,000.) Further, the agreement of sale stated that title must only pass upon full payment of purchase price,” the investigative body noted in its missive.
It contended that its investigators have evidence to establish that a facility that is a mere fraction of the size of the State property under investigation, located some seven miles upriver was sold by a private company for US$17 million.
“This is only one of several investigations that implicate former Minister Jordan,” SOCU posited.
While Jordan had previously denied any wrongdoing regarding this transaction, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall had in October announced that there were active investigations into a number of suspected shady dealings under the former APNU/AFC Government and the former Finance Minister had been implicated in a number of nefarious transactions.
These include the hiding of the US$18 million signing bonus which the APNU/AFC Administration had received from ExxonMobil, the alleged sale of several pieces of prime land after the contentious March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections, and the alleged sale of several vehicles from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to close associates of the then Administration without observing proper procedure.
Meanwhile, Government, earlier this year, had filed a civil action against Tiwari’s company; Jordan, and former Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Colvin Heath-London to retrieve the prime waterfront properties in Kingston. Those proceedings are still engaging the courts’ attention. (G8)