Govt to bring legal action against former Finance Minister, others
Giveaway of State land
– records show APNU/AFC transferred $2.9B in land for $64M in partial payments
In light of a number of questionable transactions entered into by the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government and approved by former Finance Minister Winston Jordan, the PPP/C Administration has indicated that it will be filing legal action.
In a statement on Sunday, Attorney General and Senior Counsel Anil Nandlall revealed that the Government has sought legal advice and will be initiating legal proceedings against Jordan and recently sacked National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Head Colvin Heath-London.
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 cited legal precedence for charging a former Finance Minister. Nandlall noted that in the case of Marin v Attorney General of Belize, 2011, it was ruled that there was a case against the respondents, two former Belizean Ministers, for transferring 56 parcels of State land. In this case, the lands were not only sold below market value but also sold to a company controlled by one of them.
He further cited the court ruling that “[A]s a matter of public policy, serious infractions by a public servant, such as misbehaviour in office, neglect of duty and breach of trust, are to be treated as crimes, subject to the right of any person or body of persons to recover damages for injury flowing from such misconduct.”
“Accordingly, we are of the view that the Attorney General could properly maintain an action for the tort of misfeasance in public office against Winston Jordan, and the Director of Public Prosecutions could similarly maintain criminal proceedings against the former Minister,” the independent legal advice quoted by Nandlall stated.
Data released by Nandlall showed that persons, including Jordan and Heath-London, have been transferring land worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to various companies with only a small fraction of payments being received. This was all done after the elections, at a time when the Government should not have been engaged in any such transaction.
Between them, 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.
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.
Three companies – Navigant Builders, American Marine Services and Guyana Oil Company Limited (GuyOil) didn’t make any payments at all. However, all three have since signalled their intention to return the land. Nandlall reiterated the Government’s commitment to treat fairly with companies who voluntarily return lands handed to them in these circumstances.