PPP to re-file private criminal charges against Govt Ministers

General Secretary People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Bharrat Jagdeo is again questioning the slothfulness of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) having publicly committed to question Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson over the sole sourcing of a $148 million Demerara Harbour bridge contract. Jagdeo on Wednesday said the PPP will be re-fling private criminal charges against several Government Ministers.
The Public Procurement Commission (PPC) had flagged Minister Patterson for requesting from Cabinet that the contract be sole sourced, instead of being processed through the Procurement Board as the law dictates should be done.
Earlier this year, the PPP had filed private charges against the Minister and four of his Cabinet colleagues but Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack discontinued the charges over the contentious D’Urban Park Project.
It was contended that the Ministers allegedly breached the Procurement Act in relation to the expenditure of $906 million in public funds to a private company.
Now that the PPC and Auditor General have issued findings highlighting breaches in the procurement process regarding Government-signed contracts, Jagdeo signalled on Wednesday that his party intends to write the Police on the matter with corresponding documents. The Opposition Leader’s commitment comes after the DPP’s public disclosure in April that her reasoning for discontinuing the charges were based on the position that allegations should have been reported to Police in the interest of “good governance.”
“We want to see if the DPP will still look at these charges now that an audit report is out because she said she is for the cause of good governance, I don’t know what kind of good governance that is but that was the excuse” Jagdeo said.
The Party already sent one matter to the Police implicating Minister Patterson for breaches to the procurement process by the awarding of a $148 million sole-sourced contract to Dutch company, LievenseCSO for a feasibility study into the new Demerara River crossing.
Jagdeo said he is surprised that the Minister has not yet been called in by SOCU – the very unit that called several Ministers of the former President’s Cabinet on multiple occasions.
“We deposited it with SOCU and asked for an investigation, already two months have passed, and Patterson did have to go into SOCU as yet and this is an investigation done by the constitutional body, the Public Procurement Commission and it was found that it was illegal. The Police didn’t have to do much more investigation, they could’ve used the report to put the allegations to Patterson and then charge him by now, they should’ve invited the whole Cabinet in like they did to talk about what took place at the other Cabinet… they promised that,” Jagdeo revealed. It was subsequently announced that SOCU would be investigating the contract award.

Previous charges
On April 19, 2018, the PPP filed cases in the names of two Members of Parliament (MP) – Vickram Bharrat and Juan Edghill – against Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence and Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton for misconduct in public office. This was in relation to the sole sourcing of drugs and other pharmaceuticals for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation from privately owned, ANSA McAL Trading Limited and the rental of a house in Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown to be utilised as a drug bond at a cost of $12 million monthly, The use of the building has since been discontinued, after several millions were expended.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Winston Jordan, then Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine and Minister Patterson were charged for misconduct in relation to the D’Urban Park Project. However, after brief consideration, DPP Ali-Hack discontinued for misconduct in public office, contrary to the Common Law, under Article 187 (1) (c) of the Constitution.