GUYANA-President issues stay as AG files appeal against court ruling to jail Finance Minister over contempt


Attorney General Basil Williams has filed an appeal against a High Court ruling that ordered Finance Minister Winston Jordon to face 21 days in jail for contempt of court if the government fails to honour a multi-million dollar award to a Trinidad-based company.

President David Granger Monday issued a Grant of Respite to the judgment levied on Jordan placing any punishment the latter faces, on hold using Article 188(1)(b) of the Constitution.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan (File Photo)

“I hereby grant to Winston Jordan, in his personal capacity and as the Honourable Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament, a respite of the execution of the punishment imposed on him until all appeals and remedies available to him and the State have been exhausted,” Granger said in the document outlining the stay.

Williams wants the Appeal Court to put a stay on the High Court order in the case in which DIPCON Engineering Services filed a civil action against the state.

On June 24, Justice Sewnarine-Beharry issued a contempt order to have Jordan imprisoned for 21 days if he fails to pay the US$2.2 million to Dipcon by July 8 in a matter dating back to 2015.

The High Court judge ruled that DIPCON recover from the Guyana government the amount in excess of US$2.2 million together with interest of six per cent per annum from February 10, 2009, to October 21, 2015, and thereafter at a rate of four per cent per annum until fully paid.

The Court also ordered the government pay DIPCON costs to the tune of GUY$1,200,000 (One Guyana dollar=US$0.008 cents) along with a stay of execution for six weeks from the date of the ruling.

Williams had earlier filed an appeal to the Full Court to set aside and or reverse the order of Justice Sewnarine-Beharry, but the Full Court ruled that Williams’s application had no merit.

In his filings to the Full Court, Williams had challenged the jurisdiction of the High Court to issue such an order against the Minister.

He argued that Justice Sewnarine-Beharry had misdirected herself in law when she exercised jurisdiction to hear the application of contempt against the minister in his private and personal capacity as Minister of Finance for alleged monies owed.

In his application before the Court of Appeal, the Attorney General said that the Full Court erred and misdirected itself when it ordered that Jordan being sued in his personal capacity and while still being Minister of Finance could not be represented by the Attorney General.

In addition, he is arguing that the Full Court erred and misdirected itself when it did not consider the High Court action for a judicial review.

Williams is also contending that the Full Court erred when it refused to grant the stay of the execution of the order for contempt made by Justice Priya Sewnarine- Beharry on June 24.

He is asking the Court of Appeal to set aside the order made by the Full Court and to issue an order for a stay of execution while the matter is being appealed.

Meanwhile, Jordan has told a news conference Monday that he does not understand why he is facing possible jail time for something he is not responsible for.

He said many of the judgments against the current government were related to matters committed by the former People’s Progressive Party (PPP/Civic) government.

Jordan said that the judgments could result in Guyana having to pay billions of dollars and that while he is no gangster, he does not see why he is facing damage to his personal reputation for the actions of the previous administration.

Former attorney general Anil Nandlall in a letter published in a local newspaper here and also on his Facebook page said that have praised the judges whom he said “have fearlessly rejected the contention that Executive Officers of the State are immune from “contemptuous curial”, in the discharge of their official functions.

“The principle involved is much larger than the case. In essence, the Attorney General is using the Minister of Finance to put the Judiciary, itself, upon trial,” he wrote, adding “it should be clear, therefore, that every law-abiding citizen and those who believe in the rule of law must have more than a passing interest in the ongoing legal imbroglio. I

“ certainly do. There is no swifter way of haemorrhaging public confidence from any judicial system than by its incapacity or inability to enforce its own edicts. When this occurs, the courts of law lose both their majesty and dignity and the law is easily made an “ass”.

“We now have to wait and see how far the Attorney General will go in challenging the Judiciary,” he added.

Advertise with the mоѕt vіѕіtеd nеwѕ ѕіtе іn Antigua!
We offer fully customizable and flexible digital marketing packages.
Contact us at [email protected]



    The Judge may have ‘…grossly misdirected herself,’ when she ordered the Minister in his ‘…private and personal capacity’ to be imprisoned him for ‘…Contempt of Court’ for non-payment of Government money to a private entity.

    This is premised on the principle of ‘…Collective Responsibility’ in governance.

    Considering this principle, it begs the question, ‘…Would the learned Judge have committed ‘…President Granger and his Cabinet to prison?’

Comments are closed.