Former Minister denies wrongdoing

APNU/AFC land scandal

…says matter will be addressed at “appropriate time”

Former Finance Minister Winston Jordan has denied any wrongdoing in National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited’s (NICIL) transferring of State land without receiving full payments.

Former Finance Minister Winston Jordan

This comes after the Government announced that it would be pursuing legal action against him and other officials. In a letter sent out by Jordan on Monday, he denied committing any wrongdoings in relation to issuing vesting orders for land during the controversial period after the March 2 polls.
Additionally, he claimed that certain allegations made against him regarding his role in the sale of prime State lands are defamatory.
According to him, he has always strived to carry out his duties to the best of his ability. In his letter, the former Minister noted that he has received advice from legal counsel, preventing him from delving into the issue further. However, he added cryptically that the matter would be addressed “at the appropriate time.”
Between Jordan and former Head of NICIL, Colvin Heath-London, the pair vested almost 100 acres of prime State land in Ogle, East Coast Demerara (ECD), to eight different companies. All told the total value of the lands is $2.9 billion. But NICIL only received approximately $64 million in payments.
In a statement on Sunday, Attorney General Anil Nandlall had announced that Government would be taking legal action against those involved in the controversial land transactions.

File photo: Former Finance Minister Winston Jordan and former NICIL Head Colvin Heath-London at a sod-turning ceremony at Plantation Ogle

He had explained that the Government had sought independent legal advice which recommended that there is a case to be made against former officials including Jordan.
According to Nandlall, the independent legal advice which was given is that the former Finance Minister along with Heath-London, acted recklessly and in bad faith by processing these land deals, actions which have resulted in millions of dollars of losses to the State.
As a result, the Attorney General will commence civil proceedings to, inter alia, recover the said parcels of land and claim compensation against those implicated, including Minister Winston Jordan,” Nandlall stated.
“Additionally, each of these matters will be passed to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), for their investigations and any consequential actions which may flow therefrom,” he also made clear in the statement.
The AG has since done just that, with it being revealed on Monday that letters have been dispatched to SOCU Head, Senior Superintendent Faizal Karimbaksh and Crime Chief, Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum, asking for criminal investigations to be conducted.
Data released by Nandlall showed that over the past year, NICIL has transferred land worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to various companies. However, NICIL has collected money representing only a fraction of the value of the lands in question.
This was all done after the elections, at a time when the Government should not have been engaged in any such transaction.
Caribbean Marketing Enterprise Incorporated (CMEI) received 21 acres of land valued at $632.8 million, after paying a total of $19.4 million. Cardiology Services Incorporated received eight acres of land valued at $240 million, after paying $15 million.
Supergraphics Enterprise received five acres valued at $175 million, after paying $8.9 million. And BK Marine Incorporated, which is owned by well-known contractor Brian Tiwarie, received 2.5 acres with an offer price of $202.6 million, for $20.2 million.
As of October 12, 2020, five companies – Navigant Builders Incorporated – the developers of Windsor Estates; Cardiology Services Incorporated; the Corum Group, American Marine Services Incorporated and Supergraphics Enterprise – have since surrendered the lands back to NICIL.