– Plaintiff accuses Brassington of unlawful conduct;
-says land illegally transferred;
-want details of NICIL’s revenues;
There is more controversy surrounding the multi-million-dollar Marriott Hotel in Kingston with a major constitutional
case filed against Government over the use of state monies to fund that project.
The case has been brought by Desmond Trotman, representing the Committee for the Defence of the Constitution Inc. He is accusing the Attorney General, the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Atlantic Hotel Inc. (AHI) and Winston Brassington, of abusing their authority and using state funds to illegally fund the hotel.
The court is being asked to find that Brassington is guilty of unlawful conduct by acting outside NICIL’s mandate with regard to the spending of state monies.
Trotman, also a Member of Parliament for A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), is being represented by a number of high profile lawyers including Rex Mc Kay, S.C., Neil Boston, Christopher Ram, Bettina Glasford and Brenden Glasford.
The case, which was filed this month, wanted a declaration that the decision of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, and the Executive Government to appoint NICIL and AHI, which will own the hotel, without the approval of Parliament, and to be in control of and finance the multi-billion dollar construction, “is an abuse of executive and administrative power, procedurally improper, unreasonable, irrational, illegal, arbitrary, capricious, made in bad faith, ultra vires, null, void and of no legal effect”.
Trotman wanted a declaration, also, that the failure and refusal by NICIL with the connivance of the Minister and the Executive, to invite open tendering for contractors to construct and develop the Marriott Hotel Project is in contravention of the Constitution and of the Procurement Act.
According to the court papers, the plaintiffs wanted a declaration too that NICIL and AHI, with the blessings of the administration acted unlawfully, in breach of the Procurement Act, by not involving the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board to scrutinize the bids for the selection of a contractor for the construction of the Marriott Hotel.
Trotman contended that the monies used in the hotel project are really monies that belonged to the people of Guyana but were illegally withheld by NICIL and AHI.
These monies came from state-owned entities including the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), Guyana National Co-op Bank Debt Recovery Unit, Lands and Surveys Commission, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), and from the Lottery Company.
Illegal Land Transfer
The court documents also focused on the land in Kingston on which the hotel stands.
“A declaration that the purported sale and transfer on the 15th July, 2013, as advertised in the Official Gazette of the 23rd July, 2013, Order No. 15 of 2013, by NICIL to AHI of 6.307 acres of State Lands known as Tract Alpha ‘2’ and Tract Alpha ‘3’ being portions of Block ‘Alpha’ to Atlantic Hotel Inc. (AHI) “with the buildings and erections thereon” which includes the multi storeyed Marriot Hotel building thereon worth approximately US$40,000,000 for the sum of $200,000,000 (US$1,000,000) is an abuse of executive and administrative power, procedurally improper, unreasonable, irrational, illegal, arbitrary, capricious made in bad faith is null void and of no legal effect.”
Trotman also sought a declaration that the Minister and the Executive who are reposed power under the Constitution, through the sovereignty of the people, are custodians for the time being of the resources of the state, but they have breached their constitutional mandate to protect public property and public funds.
He also wanted a declaration that the land “fall within the Public Trust Doctrine” and as such cannot be sold or transferred.
The writ asked for an injunction restraining AHI and NICIL from mortgaging, encumbering, leasing or transferring title of the land at Kingston.
Trotman also asked that the court declare that Brassington is guilty of unlawful conduct as he authorised the disbursement of moneys on expenditure outside of NICIL’s business.
With regards to the monies spent, the plaintiff asked the court for an order directing the defendants to account for all moneys which were received by them from the GGMC; GFC; Guyana National Co-op Bank – Debt Recovery Unit; Lands and Surveys Commission; Guyana GCAA; CH&PA, from the Lottery Company, sale of Government properties, dividends and proceeds of sale of Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) shares. This included from January 2013 to present date.
The writ is also asking for the Registrar of Deeds to delete the name Atlantic Hotel Inc. from the Transport which describes the land on Kingston property, and instead the name of the State of Guyana be inserted.
According to the court papers, the writ was filed “to combat . . . violations of the law and to take care and protect public property.”
The US$58M hotel has been controversial from the start with secrecy surrounding the investors. It was only recently, when the hotel is almost completed, that Government announced that it has found two Hong Kong-based businessmen as partners.
There have also been questions about the source of monies being used in the project but little answers. What is known is that Guyana has placed almost US$20M into the project.
Hoteliers, too, have been upset over the fact that Government was involved in what is considered a private sector project, especially in face of the fact that quite a number of hotels have been sold because of poor business.
The construction is being carried out by Shanghai Construction Group.
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