Govt mulls Opposition’s help in recouping $900M from Surendra

first_img– former AG says he is willing to assistBY VAHNU MANICKCHANDMore than one year after the Guyana Government won a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed against India-basedAnil Nandlallconstruction company, Surendra Engineering Corporation Limited, the country is yet to recover some $902 million that was awarded by the court.Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams told reporters on Saturday that he does not have much information on the case but noted that before they can move to recover the money, they have to locate the company.Williams said the previous Administration waited until the company left the country to file lawsuit. “So what we got was really an empty judgment… they (Surendra) have nothing here,” he posited.When asked about the provision for Commonwealth member countries that can see Guyana taking steps to have the judgment enforced in India, the Attorney General explained that the company will have to be located first.“Well we can register the judgment in Indian but we have to find them there too… We have to know where to find them. Do you know that they are in India,” he remarked.Moreover, Williams said he has not enquired about the whereabouts of the company since he does not have any information on the matter. In fact, the Attorney General noted that when he assumed office, there was a lot of State cases for which no files could have been found in the Attorney General’s Chambers.Basil Williams“I have no files on the Surendra matter… The last [Attorney General] AG used to give these things out to the private practitioners,” he stated. Asked whether he approached the court for the files, he responded in the negative, explaining that the matter was never really brought to him by the Solicitor General or anyone else in the Ministry.Nevertheless, he said they will have to decide what options his office will adopt in order to recover the monies from Surendra Engineering. However, the Legal Affairs Minister recalled that Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had offered to help Government with certain cases but said he is not sure whether former Attorney General Anil Nandlall would be willing to give his assistance.To this end, when contacted, Nandlall told Guyana Times that he is willing to work with Government on any legal matter in the interest of the nation. He noted that this is a commitment of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) as a political party and as a political party sitting in the National Assembly.“As a political party, we are committed to working with Government on any matter that is in the best interest of the nation,” he posited. The former Attorney General also clarified that the Surendra case was handled by him and not any private practitioner.Moreover, Nandlall went on to say that it was in the context of national interest that the Leader of the Opposition had indicated to President David Granger that there are a number of cases pending that they are willing to help Government in recouping monies owed to the State, especially those in relation to taxation.The former PPP/C Government had taken the India-based company to court after it failed to honour its obligations under the US$18 million plus Specialty Hospital contract. The legal proceedings was filed in October 2014, just a month after the contract was yanked from Surendra Engineering.The Government had sued the India-based company for an excess of US$100 million for alleged fraud, breach of contract and delays in works done. The legal document detailed that Surendra Engineering was found guilty of fraudulent practices and in breach of the terms, conditions and warranties of the contract it had signed back in September 2012 to design, build, equip, test, deliver, install, complete and commission a Surgical Specialty Hospital at Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown.After the court action was initiated, the Indian firm failed to attend the court hearings and never responded to a summons and the writs filed by the Government, as such, the judgment was handed down in favour of Government. Special damages to the tune of US$4,285,440 and interest thereon, amounting to the costs of US$10,714.50, were awarded to Government.last_img read more