THE Chambers of the Attorney-General (AG) has commenced paying monies owed to lawyers who represented the former A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) government in the series of legal actions prior and subsequent to the March 2, 2020 elections. Of the $99.6 million recently disclosed in the Auditor General’s 2019 report that was spent on legal fees by the AG Chambers in 2019, monies are still to be paid to some attorneys who appeared on behalf of the then government.
“Unfortunately, the AG Chambers is still saddled with humongous sums of money owed in legal fees accumulated under the previous administration which were left unpaid; over the past four months, some payments were made and some are still outstanding,” Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C. told the Guyana Chronicle on Sunday. He said the AG Chambers is bound to honour some payments as a result of the contractual obligations the former government inked while in office.
Nandlall further highlighted that attorney-at-law, Patrice Henry, who was hired as a special prosecutor under the former APNU+AFC government, is suing the State for outstanding legal fees amounting to millions of dollars. The Attorney-General said he will be defending the action brought by Henry, noting that he [Henry] was hired to prosecute politically motivated charges in a capacity which violated the constitution.
Nandlall referred to Article 187 of the constitution, which states clearly that the prosecution of criminal charges is vested exclusively with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP); the Attorney General has no such power or authority. “Basil Williams [former AG], in violation of the constitution and in abrogation of the Doctrine of Separation of Powers, usurped the functions of the Director of Public Prosecutions and he hired a series of special prosecutors to prosecute politically inspired charges,” Nandlall explained.
Some of the matters Attorney Henry was involved in were against Nandlall, who was charged with larceny; former Head of National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington; Ashni Singh, in his capacity as former Finance Minister, and President Irfaan Ali, in his capacity as former Minister of Housing, who had several fraud charges levied against him. Those charges were recently withdrawn. It was recently disclosed in the Auditor General’s 2019 report that the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Attorney-General Chambers, under the stewardship of former Attorney-General Basil Williams, spent a total of $99.650M on legal fees/retainer agreements in 2019 on external lawyers. The exorbitant amount was spent to retain foreign lawyers, despite the Ministry having a Solicitor-General, one Deputy Solicitor-General, two Assistant Solicitors-General and six State Counsel in its employ.