Difficult not to be suspicious about huge settlements

first_imgDear Editor,I have, with keen interest, observed the issues regarding the settlement of court cases involving billions of taxpayers’ dollars published in the press. I do not recall, at any time in living memory, such a large number of cases being settled for such huge sums of money. It is difficult not to be suspicious about these settlements. I do not rule out the possibility of some type of corruption.What strikes me as strange is Attorney General Basil Williams’s constant reference to “inheriting cases from the PPP Government.” My understanding is that those cases were not filed against the PPP, but the Government of Guyana. So, when there is a change in Government, the cases are bound to continue against whosoever assumes the reins of Government. Therefore, cases filed while the PPP was in Government must continue against the new Government, even though there was a change of Government after May 2015.I am shocked that AG Williams seems not to be able to understand this simple principle. It is as if he expected the PPP to take away the cases to Freedom House when they left office.While I am not a lawyer, I have been around Croal Street for over three decades. The truth of the matter is that Mr Williams has had a long career in the Magistrates’ Courts, arguing cases against Police prosecutors. The older lawyers will confirm that he never did any civil or constitutional case of worth. That lack of experience is now magnified on a national stage, because all the cases at the AG’s Chambers are civil and constitutional matters. Therefore, do not expect these outpourings of blame from Mr Williams to stop in the near future.Since these settlements involve billions of taxpayers’ dollars, in the public’s interest, I wish to ask Mr Williams for clarification on the following matters:1. RUDISA beverage caseDid the CCJ not adjourn this case for Guyana to remedy the breach of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas? And when a Bill to amend the Customs Act to bring it into conformity with the Treaty of Chaguaramas was tabled in the Parliament, did not the APNU/AFC with its one-seat majority in Opposition vote down this Bill twice?Mr. Williams was part of an AFC/APNU one-seat majority that voted down this Bill twice, was it not explained to him in the Parliament that if this Bill was not passed, then the CCJ would have awarded judgement against Guyana? How can Nandlall and the PPP be blamed for this?2. Toolsie Persaud Ltd v AGInformation published in the press suggests that this case started since 2008. Mr. Williams took office in May 2015. Judgement was handed down in April 2018. Could Mr. Williams explain how, after three years in office, he did not know a case as big as this case was being tried in the High Court, and that the Attorney General was a party? Is he asking this nation to believe that in this three-year period, no one even whispered anything to him about this matter?How come a lawyer from the AG’s Chambers was present when judgement was delivered? Could Mr. Williams explain how, after judgement was delivered, he said to the press that the AG was not a party to the proceedings? So, even when judgement was delivered, and it was published in the newspapers, he still did not know that the AG was a party?3. BK InternationalMr. Williams is quoted in the press as saying that Mr. Nandlall had agreed to pay BK $225 million for service rendered. Could Mr. Williams make public any document which supports this contention? This would go a far way in settling the public record, because the PPP Government terminated the contract with BK International. As a result, BK International sued, challenging the termination. These are facts which cannot be disputed. The court proceedings are there to verify it. In fact, Williams admits this in the press, but claims that he filed an appeal in that case. Could Mr. Williams explain why, instead of prosecuting his appeal, he withdrew it and paid BK International US$5.7 million as compensation?4. H. Sugrim v NDIABased on what is reported in the press, this case was filed in June 2015; that is, after the PPP left office. It concluded in 2017. Could Mr. Williams explain how he “inherited” this case from the PPP Government?I hope Mr Williams would clarify the matters mentioned above as soon as possible. The public awaits with bated breath.Yours faithfully,Nandkumar Puranlast_img

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