Jordan, Edghill clash over $200M ‘malicious prosecution’ lawsuit

first_imgFinance Minister Winston Jordan and Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Juan Edghill have clashed over the $200 million lawsuit that Jordan has filed for the “Malicious Prosecution of the Offence of Misconduct in Public Office,” and for other damages.Edghill, in responding to a request for comment in regard to the recent lawsuit filed against him by Winston Jordan, has maintained that the $200 million lawsuit does not have any bearing, and he will not be intimidated, nor is he fearful of the action.“It is clear that the Government is running out of headlines and they badly needed a distraction over the weekend; so Edghill became the target,” he told media operatives at the sidelines of Monday’s sitting at the National Assembly. Edghill also said he is yet to be served with the lawsuit.The Opposition MP has argued that he cannot be sued for malicious persecution on the basis of filing a private criminal charge against Jordan.Minister Jordan has responded to Edghill’s comments by stating that the courts would decide whether or not the case is just about grabbing newspaper headlines.“I don’t make joke with my integrity at all! So he (Edghill) could spin how much he wants now, he will have to spin in court eventually,” Jordan added.Responding to Edghill’s statements that there is no basis for the lawsuit, Minister Jordan said a determination will be made by the court in that respect. He said, “It’s for the court to decide…This is not a matter for the court of public opinion, but (for) a judicial court.”On April 23, Edghill initiated private criminal charges against Minister Jordan and Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson jointly, as well as against Public Service Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, alleging a breach of the Procurement Act in relation to the expenditure of $906 million in public funds to a private company, Homestretch Development Inc, for construction of the controversial D’Urban Park Project, which has been a contentious issue for some time now.Jordan and Patterson were jointly charged with misconduct and abuse of public trust for having allegedly authorised the payment; while Dr Roopnaraine, who was a director of the company, was charged with alleged misconduct and the abuse of public trust for having received, in his capacity as director, the $906 million in public funds while serving as minister.However, those charges were subsequently discontinued by the DDP, Shalimar Ali-Hack, who said that in the interest of good governance, such allegations against serving ministers ought first to have been reported to the Guyana Police Force for an investigation to be launched and the advice of the DPP sought.Despite the charges being dismissed, Jordan, in his application to the court, said the private criminal charge filed by the Opposition Parliamentarian was intended to embarrass, humiliate, and cause him to suffer public odium and contempt.The Finance Minister explained in his application that the $906 million was approved by the National Assembly, and thereafter made available to the Public Infrastructure Ministry from the Consolidated Fund.He noted that, as a Member of Parliament, Edghill could not honestly believe that he acted without reasonable excuse or justification in respect of issuing a warrant to effect disbursements and allocation of the money to the Public Infrastructure Ministry.“…the respondent was therefore aware, or ought to have been reasonably aware, that the sum of $906,000,000… was approved by the National Assembly“And as Minister of Finance, I was obligated by law to issue the necessary warrant to ensure that the said approved sum of money was available to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure; and, as such, there could be no honest belief that I willfully misconducted myself, as alleged by the respondent,” Jordan argued.Jordan pointed out that as Finance Minister he did not, and could not, have paid or authorise the payment of the $906 million to Homestretch Development Inc., as alleged by Opposition Parliamentarian.“…notwithstanding that the Respondent was… a former Minister of Finance within the Ministry of Finance…even an ordinary prudent and cautious citizen placed as a Complainant in the said Criminal Proceedings of Misconduct in Public Office against me could not have reasonably concluded that I was guilty of the offence, or even draw an inference that I was guilty of the offence of Misconduct in Public Office as alleged…,” Jordan stated.Those private charges that Edghill had initiated were the second set of charges filed by the Opposition, they were thrown out by the DPP, citing the same reasons.Two days before dismissing the charges against Ministers Jordan and Patterson, the DPP had also discontinued charges against Government Ministers Volda Lawrence and George Norton.Those charges were previously filed over the sole-sourcing of over $600 million in drugs and other pharmaceuticals for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, and the rental of a house in Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown to be utilised as a drug bond at a cost of $12M monthly respectively.last_img

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