Government has started proceedings to cancel the controversial lease to Generations Complex Inc., a company owned by Edul Ahmad, a US-based, Guyanese-born businessman.
According to a Lands and Surveys notice published in the Official Gazette on December 15, last, the Commissioner of Lands and Surveys is proposing to cancel land lease number GLL2799 in respect to 2.311 acres of Government lands, located at Plantation Thomas Lands, at the corner of Thomas Road and Vlissengen Road.
The lease to Ahmad’s company would allow for the repossession of the land for reallocation.
The notice also made it clear that persons with claims or who would oppose the cancellation should contact the Office of the Lands and Surveys Commission within seven days of the third publication, stating their reasons.
The notice would come at a time when former President Bharrat Jagdeo, under whose watch the lease was granted, had insisted that it was cancelled since 2009.
Government had said that there was no evidence that it was cancelled and that moves are being made now.
The land in question is part of the sports facilities that the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) had said that it leased.
However, under Jagdeo’s administration the land was secretly leased to Ahmad with all the permits and documentation completed in just seven days.
The 2008 transaction was, earlier this month, made public by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, during a press conference.
The Minister said that Government was moving to terminate the lease and to repossess the land, as the transaction smacked of corruption.
Ahmad is facing jail time in the US for a US$50M real estate fraud to which he pleaded guilty.
He is reportedly a close friend to Jagdeo and has several properties and businesses in Guyana.
Months after the deal was signed in 2008, the PPP/C government battled with the Guyana Public Service Union for the lands. The union had insisted it had control on the land. The matter ended up in court with no decision to this day.
All through this time, the PPP/C Government never disclosed that it had leased the lands to Ahmad, who promised to sink US$75M to develop a hotel, complete with restaurant, bar, a casino, club and trade exhibition hall.
Ahmad was bound to submit a business plan a month after he signed the lease- on May 30, 2008.
However, since signing the lease, Ahmad only made one payment of $500,000. It was this breach of the agreement that the new Government said it was utilizing to take back the land.
The transaction was one that the administration touted as being among several questionable deals by previous Governments of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic.
According to Harmon, the new administration has been taking note of the claims by Jagdeo, that no corruption existed under his reign and that ongoing forensic audits and investigations are all but a smokescreen.
The lease itself along with the applications would show the high interest that Jagdeo and his government paid to the transaction and the speed in which it was processed.
On May 22, 2008, Ahmad through a company called Generation Complex Inc., applied for the land– about 2.311 acres at Plantation Thomas Lands.
It was approved and a cadastral survey was executed by May 29- five days later. It was registered that same day with Ahmad signing the lease on May 30, 2008
“We can call it administrative efficiency but we in Guyana know that there is no way that the sequence of events can be completed in seven days and for a lease to be issued by May 30.”
The lease allowed for Ahmad to buy the land for just about $50M once he has spent about US$30M of the US$75M investment he committed to.
“In effect it is a sort of back door arrangement whereby the company was granted a lease within seven days and given option of purchasing land without the normal processes when it comes to purchasing lands,” Harmon had said.
“So when Mr. Jagdeo speaks about corruption to bring the evidence, here it is…”
Harmon said that from indications, following the speed of the transaction, it appeared that Ahmad saw a piece, was able to get a lease in seven days along with the necessary permission, in an area that is specifically set aside for recreational purposes.
The sports ground deal would also call to mind the secret sale of the Sanata complex at Industrial Site, by Jagdeo, to his best friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop.
The deal is being investigated by the new government.
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