The transport produced by Town Clerk Royston King, last month, in relation to the leased Lombard and Sussex Street Wharf facility, does not correspond with the location of the disputed property.
King had leased the disputed property to shipping company, Quick Shipping Inc, despite claims of ownership of the land by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited, (NICIL).
The matter became a source of contention at the recently concluded Commission of Inquiry, (COI) into City Hall.
During the hearings, both the Town Clerk of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC), and in house attorney of NICIL, Arianne Mc Lean produced documents claiming ownership of the property. NICIL submitted `Land Transport #525 of 1985’, while the M&CC says their `Transport #2803 of 1966’ shows the ownership of the land located at Lot 1 Mud Lot Lombard Street.
However, careful examination of the document supplied by King shows that the transport #2803/1966 has no connection to the property, which he leased for the shipping company for $625,000 per year.
The document makes no mention of Lot 1 Mud Lot Lombard Street; the location of the disputed property.
On the other hand, the description on the NICIL transport published in the public records of Parliament more closely matches the disputed location.
Transport # 1085/1985 describes the land ceded to NICIL as Mud Lots numbered 1 one) to 11 (eleven). Inclusive; all that part of Broad Street or Lombard Street (Blocks 6a and 6h): (d) All the continuation of Water Street lying between Princes Street on the north and Sussex Street on the south; a strip of land lying immediately north of inner lot numbered nine and mud lot nine extending from Lombard Street on the east to the low water mark of the Demerara River on the west.
Last month, NICIL’s in-house Attorney had produced documents to show that the State-owned privatization unit has ownership of the wharf.
Included among the documents, which Mc Lean supplied is a supplemental deed of lease agreement dated January 2002, between Guyana National Engineering Corporation, (GNEC) and Guyana National Industrial Company, (GNIC).
She explained that GNEC had a transport for the plot of land since 1985. The property was nonetheless leased to GNIC for a period not exceeding 15 years.
Mc Lean told the commission that NICIL acquired the property in 2002 by virtue of a vesting order.
According to Mc Lean, GNEC was dissolved in May 30, 2002 and transferred to and vested in NICIL. To this day, she said, NICIL is still the owner and has not leased the riverfront property to any other company. NICIL had strongly objected to King’s leasing of the property.
Information later surfaced at the COI, that King had leased the wharf to businessman Paul Sandy, the owner of Quick Shipping Inc. without the approval of the Council. Chairman of the CoI, retired Justice Cecil Kennard had questioned the authority of Town Clerk to lease the disputed Sussex Street riverfront property without council’s approval.
During the CoI, King had admitted that the 40-year lease, entered into in 2016, was not brought to the attention of the Council.
“It wasn’t taken to a meeting, but the lease was signed and lodged at the Council‘s Registry and monies were paid to City Treasury for which there are receipts,” King said.
Questioned on what authority he rented the facility without Council’s permission, King noted that he relied on Sections of Municipal Law, Chapter 28:01, which permits him to be the sole signatory on such matters.
“I am trying to get from you under what authority you are allowed to grant the lease. But that Section of the law you have read doesn’t give you the authority to lease property without the Council,” Kennard emphasized. King’s lawyer, Maxwell Edwards had interjected. He told the Commission that it is possible that the Town Clerk could have misinterpreted the law in relation to the issue.
“Judges misinterpret the law, much less the Town Clerk,” Edwards stated.
The attorney had earlier raised concerns over the two transports that were produced in relation to property; one by the State Holding Company NICIL and another by the Council.
He claimed that fraud was perpetrated on the part of NICIL.
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