… workers, shareholders never received a penny in dividends
… as interest mounts to over US$200M
The Government-owned National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) is still owed hundreds of millions of dollars by Guyana Stores Limited; owned primarily by Tony Yassin and Glenn Lall, publisher of the Kaieteur News.
NICIL currently has several court actions against Guyana Stores Ltd for millions in outstanding monies owed to the Government. Lall and Yassin, now Directors of Guyana Stores, owe US$2 million of the US$6 million the property was sold for back in 2000 by the Government via NICIL. In the meantime, the property has been allowed to deteriorate into an eyesore in downtown Georgetown.
Past due interest on the outstanding balance would amount almost to another US$2 million or even more. The matter is sub judice, as the Government owned corporation moved to the courts to recover its monies. In the meantime, the profits of the company are collected by the two owners and shareholders have complained of never receiving any dividends since the company was privatised back in 2000.
When contacted, Chairman of the Board of Directors of NICIL, Dr Maurice Odle, declined to comment on the matter and advised Guyana Times to contact the entity’s Officer in Charge, Horace James.
All efforts to contact NICIL’s Officer in Charge proved futile as all calls to his number went unanswered.
Several years ago, one shareholder had expressed concerns regarding whether GSL was being used as a source of funding for the various business interests of some shareholders. The shareholder added that the lack of disclosure of the true state of affairs of GSL raises considerable concerns about what will be left to the minority shareholders and the chances of dividends. The shareholder also raised questions on whether the company’s affairs are being managed in the interest of all shareholders or for the benefit of a few directors.
“Governance is totally out of the window and no one seems to care about it,” a minority shareholder who asked to remain anonymous had stated. Another concern was whether GSL had paid its taxes.Interestingly, with the change in Government in 2015, NICIL had paid over some $40 million in taxes to the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) on behalf of the Glenn Lall-owned entity.
Meanwhile, the legal proceeding which is before Justice Roxanne George at the High Court in Georgetown is as a result of a lawsuit filed by NICIL.
NICIL is suing Royal Investments, the entity which owns and operates Guyana Stores Limited, for failing to pay the balance of US$2 million for the 70 million shares in the company which was acquired for US$6 million.
GSL is a public company with over 1000 shareholders. Shareholders have lamented the fact that GSL has failed to have a shareholders meeting since privatisation. Shareholders have also not seen the audited accounts for the company since 1999.