The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has started its crackdown on Chinese-owned BaiShanLin to recover almost $80M owed for forest fees.
On Friday last, GFC through its Commissioner, James Singh, filed court papers claiming $48,474,779 plus interests and costs.
GFC is claiming a breach of contract with the disgraced company.
There are a number of other similar claims by GFC to be filed shortly, the commission said.
According to an affidavit sworn to by the Commissioner, BaiShanLin International Forest Development Inc. is headquartered in Providence, behind the Princess Casino.
It was on November 4, 2011 and April 26, 2013 that GFC issued two State Forests Exploratory Permits, for three years respectively, for forest exploration and limited harvesting.
BaiShanLin, as a result of the permits, agreed to pay the GFC a fixed amount annually for acreage fees and royalties. However, between 2012 and 2014, the company failed, refused to or neglected to pay the full amount.
According to Commissioner Singh, as a result, BaiShanLin became indebted to GFC for $21,755,877. BaiShanLin apparently also committed a number of unlawful activities and offered to pay $26,718,902, the affidavit said.
However, the company failed to pay the monies, despite the threat of court proceedings hanging.
BaiShanLin’s Managing Director was granted a meeting on April 8, 2016, where he was given until the monthend to settle the outstanding monies.
Commissioner Singh said that he even wrote the company that same month on April 11, 2016, reminding them that the 2011 SFEP had expired and that an extension was not approved.
BaiShanLin was also warned that the second SFEP was set to expire on April 25, 2017.
Singh claimed that BaiShanLin offered to settle the debts in various ways other than paying it off. However, the Commission insisted on its monies.
“The GFC has every reason to believe that the Directors and managers at the company have no intention of honouring their obligations aforementioned, thereby unjustly enriching themselves and leaving GFC without a remedy.
Representing GFC is attorney-at-law, Jacy Archibald.
The fixed date application is set to be heard on April 4, 2018 before Justice Nareshwar Harnanan.
BaiShanLin grew in prominence after 2010, with its forestry company said to be co-owned by the Government of China.
With its original intentions to capitalize on forestry activities, BaiShanLin received unlimited concessions on vehicles, equipment, building materials and other tax breaks from the then Government.
In return, the company promised to open a large wood processing plant on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway. It received almost US$70M from the China Development Bank.
However, the company appeared to have gotten too ambitious and there was talk that it was protected.
It went into housing, buying 100 acres of prime housing lands at Providence, East Bank Demerara, and paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the incomplete Cacique Hotel in the same area.
BaiShanLin opened several companies signaling interest in shipbuilding, auto repairs, river transportation and a host of other activities.
A showroom at Providence remains incomplete and there were accusations that the company was using materials imported under its duty free concessions to supply the local market, including steel.
The company was even accused of burning up a large patch of forest in Berbice and attempting to covering it up.
There were also accusations that it was logging in areas that were for exploration.
Shortly after taking office, the Coalition Government appointed a new board at GFC, chaired by Jocelyn Dow. The board seized the forest concessions of BaiShanLin, including some it had acquired under questionable joint venture means.
In all, BaiShanLin had grown to be one of the biggest holders of State forests in Guyana.
There was evidence that little was done to curtail its activities here, many of them illegal.
Just recently, BaiShanLin again hit the news, after it was discovered that despite its forestry concessions being taken away by GFC, the company was illegally working its trucks and equipment in Berbice.
GFC seized a truck of logs reportedly illegally harvested from a Berbice concession once under the control of BaiShanLin. That matter is under investigation.
Authorities like GFC and the Guyana Revenue Authority have been attempting to collect millions of dollars from the company in taxes and royalties. However, there are little assets that can be found. It appears that some of the equipment, including excavators and trucks, was shifted to gold mining concessions now controlled by principals of the company.
Pic filed as illegal logging
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