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Less than three weeks after the High Court ruled that Dr. Ashni Singh and Winston Brassington must face charges in the Magistrates’ Court for alleged misconduct in public office, the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) has dropped the charges against the public officials.
When the case was called on Monday morning before Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan, SOCU’s Prosecutors informed the Court that they no longer wish to proceed with the charges against the public officials.
Dr. Ashni Singh, who is currently serving as Minister with responsibility for Finance, and the former head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington were charged under the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Administration over the reckless sale of state lands.
It is alleged that on December 28, 2009, by way of an agreement of sale and purchase, Dr Singh and Brassington sold the National Hardware Guyana Limited lands amounting to 103.88 acres, property of the state for the sum of $598, 659,398 without the property being evaluated by a competent officer.
A similar charge was made against them over the December 2008 sale of 4,700 acres of land at Liliendaal, ECD, to Scady Business Corporation for $150M, notwithstanding the fact that the property was valued at $340,000,000 by Rodrigues Architects Associate.
Dr. Singh’s lawyers had challenged the validity of the charges, resulting in the case in the Magistrates’ Court being adjourned, pending the decision of the High Court. However, the acting Chief Justice, in handing down her judgement late November, said the men ought to be tried at the level of the Magistrates’ Court.
It is believed that SOCU’s decision to withdraw the charges is politically motivated. Approximately two months after the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) took office, the DPP withdrew a charge against the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall for the alleged theft of over $2M in Commonwealth Law Reports from the State.