– transaction Gazetted before notice of pay letter was received
By Mikaila Prince
Despite refusing an offer on three separate occasions, housing developer, Navigant Builders, was gifted 30 acres of prime land in Ogle on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) by the National Industrial Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
The highly questionable transactions covering the transfer of the lands, which are located near a major planned highway that would link the East Coast to the East Bank transportation network, were conducted days before the developer was even sent a notice to pay for the lands by NICIL.
It meant that the lands were transferred without NICIL collecting their monies and the developer, renowned for building the iconic Windsor Estates gated community, not even knowing that it has lands in its name.
It would now raise questions about several other transactions in the same area and whether there was a rush to complete them ahead of the upcoming elections declarations, which is widely expected to see a change in the administration.
This collective area forms part of almost 1,000 acres of prime lands, which have been opened by NICIL for commercial development, and is said to be worth billions of dollars.
It was formerly under the control of the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation before being vested in NICIL for divestment.On June 16, in furtherance of the transaction for the 30 acres initiated earlier this year, NICIL dispatched a letter to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Windsor Estates/ Navigant Builders Incorporated, in which they notified him that he owed a balance of some $925M for the 30 acres, being portions of land at Plantations Goedverwagting and Sparendaam.
The letter stated that in order for the lands to be transferred in the name of the title of the developer, all outstanding balances must be settled, after which the Order to transfer the title would be sent for publication in the Official Gazette, and title to the property would be in effect.
Kaieteur News subsequently published a detailed article on June 21, which revealed that Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, had moved to sign away massive portions of former sugar lands on the ECD, and that several prospective buyers, including Navigant Builders, were contacted by government officials with offers to finalise the transfer of the valuable state lands.Windsor Estates/ Navigant Builders, however, was quick to address the issue following reports in the media, announcing that it was suspending the transaction.
On June 23, the housing developer explicated stated that: “Due to an uncertain business environment, Windsor Estates/Navigant Builders, a US- based real estate developer will hereby be postponing its plans for the proposed Ogle project. We would like to state that this decision is non-partisan in nature, and that we are prepared to move forward with this project once a democratic and credible resolution to the election has been reached.”
Notably, this was verbatim to a statement initially published on March 6 from the developer expressing concerns surrounding the yet unconcluded March 2, General and Regional Elections.Yesterday, the company issued another statement disclosing that there had been a Gazetted order indicating a transfer of lands to Navigant Builders in the Ogle/ Sparendam vicinity dated June 11 and published in the official gazette on June 30.
The developer’s statement was in response to vesting orders, which were published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday, following weeks of hiatus, which stated that 123 acres of lands were given to 10 developers.
These developers include Supergraphics (5.058 acres); GUYOIL (1.500 acres); the Residences at Earl’s Court Incorporated (10.281 acres); Navigant Builders Incorporated (30.000 acres); Premier Sales and Services Incorporated (5.015 acres); Trinuyana Investments Incorporated (19.678 acres), Caribbean Marketing Enterprise Incorporated (21.096 acres), American Marine Services Incorporated (20.000 acres) and Cardiology Incorporated (8.000 acres).
A number of the developers above had indicated plans to build hotels, with sod-turning days before the March 2 elections.
In its latest statement, Navigant emphasized that they had no knowledge that the transfer had gone ahead; particularly since it had indicated that it had no interest in continuing with it.
“Of utmost significance,” the statement said, “subsequent to the March 2 elections, we have made no attempts to initiate any transfer of lands or advance this project… In regard to the besting order showing the pending transfer of 30 acres of lands to Navigant Builders, we wish to state that we had no prior knowledge of this order.”
Navigant emphasized that while they had received the communication from NICIL on June 19 seeking balance of payment prior to the publication in the Official Gazette, no payments have been made to date.
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