Oct 30, 2016 News
Criminal investigations into hundreds of millions of dollars spent for the 2007 Cricket World Cup
(CWC) transactions will also see attention being directed in a particular direction—the acquisition and subsequent sale of several BMWs.
The 20 BMWs were imported early 2007 and were a mixture of sedans and SUVs. The vehicles were first used to move heads of state and government who came to Guyana for the Rio Summit in early 2007.
They were also used to transport top level CWC officials for the matches at the Providence Stadium shortly after.
A number of the vehicles are currently in use by sitting ministers and other Government officials.
Months after CWC events in Guyana, the then Government, under Bharrat Jagdeo, announced that it was selling 12 of the new vehicles.
The high-end vehicles, with low mileage, were snapped up for reportedly at a little more than cost price, without the duties- around $9M each- a steal for many.
The transactions by the then Government for CWC were highly questionable as the spendings were never made public despite numerous calls.
On Friday, Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary, Joseph Harmon, announced that forensic audit reports into the CWC spending for the games in 2007 as well as the Pradoville Two land sales have been completed and were on Tuesday considered by Cabinet.
The findings and the recommendations of the audit reports were enough to convince Cabinet to order separate police probes.
Harmon said that the government was compelled to take that route because of the evidence that suggested wrongdoings.
The files are likely to be handed over to the police this week for the investigations to start.
According to Government officials over the weekend, the forensic audit report pointed to the absence of a large portion of documents (vouchers etc) to show how monies were spent for the CWC.
Of specific interest, Kaieteur News was told yesterday, is the acquisition of the BMWs.
BWM was a major sponsor for CWC and as part of the deal, host countries were supposed to purchase several vehicles to move officials around.
The contract was reportedly awarded to a company named Prestige Motors Inc., which was linked to Vishok Persaud, son of former PPP/C Minister of Agriculture, Reepu Persaud.
That company was reportedly opened in late 2006, a few months before the contract was awarded under questionable circumstances.
In early 2008, one year after the cricket matches, the Jagdeo administration decided to sell some of the BMWs.
The Government resorted to selling 12 of the BMWs for a price of $9M each, foregoing significant duties that would have been payable on the luxury vehicles that had been bought for the Cricket World Cup.
Had the duties charges been added, buyers could have ended up paying up to $13M.
With regards to the CWC police probe, when it gets going, investigators are also likely to examine further, the procedures in the transfer of lands and advance of cash to the Buddy’s Hotel, Providence. Buddy’s Hotel is now under new owners and has been rebranded under Ramada and the Princess group.
As part of conditions to host the world cup Super Eight matches, Guyana had to build a new stadium as the Bourda ground was deemed too small and inadequate.
Guyana also had to provide adequate hotel rooms.
The Providence Stadium was built by an Indian contractor to facilitate the matches.
The stadium hosted six World Cup matches between March 28, 2007 and April 9, 2007.
It was constructed by the Government of Guyana with substantial financial assistance from the Government of India. It was designed by C.R. Narayana Rao (CRN Architects & Engineers) and constructed by Shapoorji Pallonji Group. Construction costs are estimated at US$25M.
With regards to the Pradoville Two, police will investigate the transactions which saw Jagdeo and his friends acquiring several acres of prime seaside property behind Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara. The exclusive housing area was cynically dubbed Pradoville Two because of the high-end vehicles that would traverse the roads there.
The lands were sold, according to the forensic audit report, for far below the market price.
State resources were used to develop the plot which was later sold to Jagdeo, several of his ministers and other officials. A transmitting tower, belonging to the state, was removed at considerable costs to make way for Jagdeo and the other beneficieries.
Other beneficiaries included Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack, the then Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Rear Admiral Gay Best; and former Head of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Ramesh Dookoo.
The DPP has sweeping powers and holds an independent office.
Former Public Service Minister, Dr. Jennifer Westford; former Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud; Compton Bourne, former Head of the Caribbean Development Bank and UG Chancellor; Ghansham Singh and Kamini Parag-Singh and Florrie Loretta Ramnauth also received house lots.
Singh is said to be the son of former Labour Minister, Dr. Nanda Gopaul. They also paid just over $1.5M.
Ali-Hack and her husband, Moeen ul Hack, a top figure in the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG), paid $1,488,744 for a piece of land. The Certificates of Title were prepared in 2011.
Dookoo, a Banks DIH executive, was a former Chairman of PSC as well as the Guyana Water Inc. (GWI). He reportedly paid $1,502,500 for his plot with his title prepared in 2010.
Former Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee; former GWI boss, Sheik Baksh and former Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, also received lots, paying just over $1.5M each.
So too did former Army Chief, Rear Admiral Gary Best and sacked Chief Executive Officer of the embattled Guyana Sugar Corporation, Dr. Rajendra Singh.
Also named in the list were Andrew Bishop, a Presidential Advisor in the former administration and former Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission.
Safraaz Khan and George Hallaq, said to be the country’s former Middle East envoy, and a company called Future Developers International Guyana Inc., were also among the other names on the list.
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