Feb 22, 2009 News
– overseas-based Guyanese claim fraud in property dispute
While Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford is awaiting his possible date with the court, one of his beneficiaries is engaged in a court battle to save some of the investments he made.
Justice William Ramlal, on February 16, granted an ex parte injunction against former Guyanese first class and Stanford All Star cricketer, Lennox Cush, restraining him, his servants and/or agents from continuing to construct a building on a property located on 55 Second Street, Campbellville.
Justice Ramlal also granted another injunction restraining Lennox Cush from further mortgaging, selling or in any other way alienating the said property, which was already mortgaged by the cricketer to the Bank of Nova Scotia.
These injunctive orders were granted to plaintiffs Faye Chichester, Sandra Liverpool and Jacqueline Bobb, who are all sisters and reside in the United States of America.
A writ of summons was also filed by the plaintiffs against Philip Baker, Sarswattie Barnwell, Cush, the Attorney General, Registrar of Deeds and the Bank of Nova Scotia in which they are seeking damages in excess of $1M.
Another writ was filed against Philip Baker for fraud and seeking damages in the sum of $1M.
The plaintiffs are also seeking to restrain the defendants from trespassing on the said property.
Cush became embroiled in the controversy over the land when he bought it some time last year, apparently with his winnings from the Stanford 20/20 tournament.
The issue with regards to the disputed property began in 1986 when one of the plaintiffs, Faye Chichester, who was living in Guyana at the time, permitted Philip Baker to occupy it.
According to court documents, the property was left for the plaintiffs by their mother Hilda Henry under a will, and transport for the said property was passed to the plaintiffs in 1997.
Philip Baker previously shared a common-law relationship with the daughter of Faye Chichester, Annette, who died during pregnancy in 1986.
After permission was given to Baker to occupy the property, he later sought permission from Chichester to refurbish a snackette in front of the property.
But in a petition filed in the land court in 2003, Baker claimed that he built three houses on the land and filled the land with mud, at a total cost of $10M.
Some time in 2003, Chichester indicated to Baker that she and her siblings were returning to Guyana to build a house on the said land and would like him to vacate the property.
Without the knowledge of the plaintiffs, Baker applied for a declaration of title by prescription through his attorney-at-law Saphier Hussein, and was granted an order on January 20, 2004 by the then land court judge.
Armed with this order, Baker obtained transport for the plaintiffs’ property on November 29, 2004.
He subsequently sold it for $6.8M to Sarswattie Barnwell, owner of C&S Bar at Sheriff and First Streets, Campbellville.
The ‘new owners’ received transport on January 30 last year.
According to the court documents, although Baker claimed that he had expended $10M on the property, he sold it for far less.
Further, the court will hear that the three houses that Baker claimed to have built turned out to be no more than shacks which were demolished by the Mayor and City Council in 2003.
However, this was not disclosed to the Land Court Judge during Baker’s petition for prescriptive rights.
On October 2, 2007, Sarswattie Barnwell sold the property to Lennox Cush for $7M, and Cush also obtained a mortgage from the Bank of Nova Scotia for $6.1M by using the transport as security.
The plaintiffs are contending that Philip Baker lied to the Land Court Judge and swore to false information in the petition to obtain a declaration of title.
They are also contending that the order of the Land Court Judge was made in contravention of the rules of the High Court.
Cush, who was one of 16 cricketers who were named in the Stanford All Stars that opposed England in a winner-take-all 20/20 game for US$20M last year, is now constructing a huge building on the disputed property, and the plaintiffs want the court to declare that they are the true owners of the property, which was never disposed by any one of them, since they had granted Philip Baker, the former son-in-law of Faye Chichester, a mere licence to occupy the property in 1986, with the understanding that he would vacate the property when they were ready to have use of it.
Transport number 1611 of 2008 in the name of Lennox Cush is being challenged by the plaintiffs, who are claiming that it was tainted by the fraudulent actions of Philip Baker back in 2003, and therefore they want the court to order the Registrar of Deeds to cancel and/or recall Lennox Cush’s transport and restore them as the rightful owners.
The plaintiffs also want the court to set aside the mortgage in favour of Bank of Nova Scotia for the same reason, since they never gave anyone permission to mortgage their property.
The plaintiffs are represented by Lyndon Amsterdam of the law firm Forde, Amsterdam and Lewis, while the defendants are yet to enter appearances by counsel.
The matter has been adjourned to March 3 before Justice William Ramlal for service of the documents on the defendants and a hearing on the injunctions.
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