Guyana Stores Limited (GSL) Chief Executive Officer, Tony Yassin, was cross-examined yesterday as the court
battle between the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and Royal Investments Incorporated (RII) continued before Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire.
Yassin was questioned by NICIL’s legal representative, Attorney–at–Law Rafiq Khan, about his involvement in the incorporation of Royal Investments and the details of the transaction which led the purchase and privatization of GSL.
Yassin told the court that the Royal Investment (RII) was incorporated in 1999, but he was neither a shareholder nor on the Board of Directors at the time. Yassin said that he was there from the inception of RII, but that the company became incorporated in 1999 for the purpose of the acquisition of GSL.
The witness noted that shareholding at the time was held by Reaz Khan. Yassin did not become a shareholder until October 4, 2000.
Yassin said that four persons were part of the tender process for the purchase of shares in Guyana Stores Limited. He explained that Khan, himself, Brian Tiwarie, and a company from Curaçao, sought to purchase shares from GSL.
He noted that Khan conducted negotiations with the Privatization Unit with respect to the purchase of shares from GSL.
Asked whether Khan had kept him informed about the process, the witness responded in the negative.
The Attorney then asked Yassin whether he was aware of an offer for the purchase of 50% of the shares in GSL in 1996. Yassin again related that he had no knowledge of such.
Khan further questioned whether there was a request for purchase of 70% of the shares in Guyana Stores Ltd and whether it was Royal Investments Inc. that responded to the advertisement.
To this, Yassin replied, “It was four individuals who responded on behalf of Royal Investments Inc. We were the four principals that completed the documents.”
The attorney subsequently inquired whether the four parties were acting in individual capacities or on behalf of Royal Investments.
Yassin replied that they were acting in their individual capacities and together. Mr. Khan then asked Yassin who
were the individuals.
In reply, Yassin said Reaz Khan, Shaliza Khan, Brian Tiwarie and himself.
“Assuming that your bid was successful, in whose name the share would have been invested?” asked the lawyer.
“Royal Investments Inc,” Yassin said. The witness later agreed that based on the information received from the Privatisation Unit and proposal of Winston Brassington, RII was selected as the preferred investor.
Asked whether he ever managed a company the magnitude of GSL, Yassin said not in terms of physical size but in terms of sales and more branches.
He clarified that the company was located out of Guyana; it was in New York.
Yassin noted that he subsequently withdrew as a participant in the continuing negotiations for the acquisition of shares in GSL because he and Mr. Reaz Khan could not get along.
In June 2000, Yassin said that he was asked by Brassington if he would be able to conclude the deal within two months, since that was the time given by Cabinet to close the deal.
He said that he quickly agreed since he wanted to close the negotiations.
Yassin explained however that he was not affiliated with RII; that he had to buy shares from Khan and close the deal in the name of the company which had already secured the tender.
The cross-examination will continue when the matter resumes on January 29, 2015.
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