Special Prosecutors being paid $20,000 per hour

first_img…$2M retainer feeIn response to questions put forward by the parliamentary Opposition, Government has come clean on its hiring of Special Prosecutors. Among the information provided are details of the number of prosecutors, cases and payment arrangements.According to the written responses supplied, five Special Prosecutors were hired. These Prosecutors are to be paid a retainer fee of $2 million, applied against the attorney fees and costs incurred by the client – the Attorney General’s Chambers.According to the details presented, the Prosecutors will also be paid $20,000 per hour for their services when prosecuting matters in the court on behalf of the State.Former AG Anil NandlallThe order paper had detailed that questions would be put to Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams by his predecessor, Anil Nandlall. The questions are derived from the fact that estimates show $109 million being allocated to the Attorney General’s Chambers in the 2017 Budget under programme number 523.In addition, Nandlall had contended in his questions that in the 2018 Budget, undisclosed funds were allocated for hiring Special Prosecutors, including foreign lawyers. He was, therefore, seeking answers on this issue.“Could the Honourable Minister provide this House with information on the number of Special Prosecutors that have been hired, their salaries and benefits, travel and hotel costs, etc, incurred and the number of cases they have been handling for the period January 2017 to March 2018?” Nandlall had questioned the State.In an interview with Guyana Times, Nandlall stressed the implications for the State’s involvement in retaining Special Prosecutors on a scale of this magnitude. In the first place, he pointed out that this practice was not supported by the law.“It is absolutely unlawful for (the State) to be paying Special Prosecutors. Since 1966, when we became independent, the prosecutorial functions of the State were taken away from the Attorney General’s Office and given to an agency called the Director of Public Prosecutions.“That agency is an independent agency, and it ought not to be influenced in the discharge of those functions. Government has no role to play in the prosecution ofAttorney General Basil Williamscriminal offences. That is not a function of the Government but the State agency.”The former Attorney General also noted that while serious offences like drug trafficking and murder were being prosecuted by Police Prosecutors, the State shelled out millions to prosecute members of the former Administration and perceived Opposition supporters on charges that were not even in violation of criminal laws.“Millions of dollars are expended to hire Special Prosecutors. And these Special Prosecutors are hired to prosecute us,” Nandlall noted. “They are not hiring Special Prosecutors to prosecute the serious offences being committed every day in this country, like robbery, murder, piracy, drug trafficking. These are the real ills of the society. So the public will judge whether that is the best use of taxpayers’ money.”It had been reported that Cabinet appointed six Attorneys: Michael Somersall, Hewely Griffith, Lawrence Harris, Patrice Henry, Compton Richardson, and Trenton Lake as Special Prosecutors in the event that legal action might ensue from audit reports into the Pradoville 2 Housing Scheme and the 2007 Cricket World Cup, among other areas. (Jarryl Bryan)last_img read more