Canada saves Ali from embarrassment

PPP presidential candidate Irfaan Ali

— could have been arrested, tried, says international lawyer

LEGAL Counsel Selwyn Pieters said the Canadian High Commission ought to be applauded for advising People’s Progressive Party (PPP) presidential candidate Irfaan Ali not to travel to Canada due to the serious charges he is facing here in Guyana.

Pieters, an internationally recognised attorney called to the Bars of Ontario, Canada; Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana, said the advice was based on the Laws of Canada, in particular Section 36(1) (c ) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA”), and has saved him greater embarrassment.

Section 36 (1) (C) states: “A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of serious criminality for…(c) committing an act outside Canada that is an offence in the place where it was committed and that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence under an Act of Parliament punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years.”

Last Monday, the High Commission of Canada in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago advised Ali not to travel to Canada on the grounds that it has received a report in relation to the 19 charges filed against him by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). He was given 30 days to respond to the correspondence. Pieters said the approach taken by the Canadian High Commission is a good one.

“It is less embarrassing, less traumatic and certainly protects him from any stigma to warn him in advance to not come to Canada in the face of criminal charges, rather than to arrest and detain him at the port of entry and force him through a convoluted admissibility hearing,” Pieters explained.

The attorney said the case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Vancouver, Canada, in December, 2018 on the grounds that there are 13 charges filed against her in the U.S, is an excellent example. Wanzhou is accused of violating international trade sanctions against Iran.

Attorney-at-Law Selwyn Pieters

“The situation with the arrest, detention and subsequent release on conditions of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou drives home the point of the muddy waters to tread when travelling to Canada in the face of serious criminal charges in another country,” the attorney told this newspaper.

He said the case of Xiao Dong Liang is another example. In October, 1998, Liang was arrested in Canada on an Interpol warrant for conspiracy to commit murder, leading a criminal organisation, and being involved in a corruption scandal concerning a high-ranking official in his home province in China. Subsequent to the conduct of an Immigration Act inquiry, Liang was found to be inadmissible as a person who had committed an act that constitutes an offence in China that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence punishable by imprisonment for 10 years or more. In his desperation, he applied for refugee status but it was turned down.

“We rejected Mr. Liang’s claim based on serious criminality, notwithstanding his claims that he would be subject to the death penalty if returned to China,” Pieters said. He had worked on the case.

In Ali’s case, he was slapped with 19 charges for alleged conspiracy to defraud the state of some $174M for his role in the notorious Pradoville land-sale scandal. Those charges were filed last November. He had appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and was released on self-bail, claiming that the charges “…have made me stronger.” Ali, 38, of Sea-spray, Leonora, West Coast Demerara, was not required to plead to the indictable charges.
The charges read that between the year 2010 and 2015, Ali conspired with persons

unknown to defraud the Government of Guyana when he acted recklessly in presenting the value of 19 plots of state land situated at Plantation Sparendaam and Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara and sold the said lands at a grossly undervalued price without first obtaining a valuation to determine the true value of the lands.

Ali is accused of defrauding the state of over $174M after selling the land at an undervalued price. The former minister of housing is accused of selling the lands to former President Bharrat Jagdeo; former Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon; and former ministers Priya Manickchand, Dr. Jennifer Westford, Robert Persaud and Clement Rohee; Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack, and former army head Gary Best and Fortune Developers Inc., Guyana.

He also sold lands at the locations to former General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board and daughter of former President Donald Ramotar, Lisa Ramotar; former President of the Private Sector Commission, Ramesh Dookhoo; the son of former Labour Minister Dr Nanda Gopaul, Dr Ghansham Singh; former Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Chief Executive Officer Rajendra Singh; former president of the Caribbean Development Bank, Compton Bourne; Andrew Bishop, former Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission; former Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Water Inc (GWI) Shaik Baksh, Safraaz Khan and George Hallaq.

Ali was recently chosen as the PPP’s presidential candidate, beating out the likes of Anil Nandlall, Gail Teixeira, Dr Frank Anthony and Dr Vindyha Persaud. However, supporters of the political party have openly condemned the move to have him run for the country’s presidency.