Sep 01, 2020 News Comments Off on $1.6B Ocean View Hospital… Former AG breaks silence
– says Rambarran does not own property
Basil Williams, Guyana’s former Attorney General, has finally dispelled claims made by the supposed owner of the old Ocean View Hotel turned Infectious Diseases Hospital, Jacob Rambarran, that he still owns the property. Williams made it pellucid that the building is in receivership and has been that way since 2009.
Rambarran, though he penned the deal with the previous A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition administration, gave an ultimatum to the new People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) government that it must pay him some $52M in rent owed to him and failing to do so would see him moving to repossess the property.
Rambarran’s ownership claims was made shortly after the PPP/C assumed office last month and, prior to Williams, no official from the previous administration had opposed him.
The former AG broke his silence in a letter in which he sought to clarify that the property was in receivership since 2009 and after then Rambarran had defaulted on payments. Williams explained that Rambarran is indebted to the Guyana National Co-operative Bank (GNCB) in excess of $1B, incurred by several loans.
As a consequence, the GNCB on May 29, 2009 appointed Courtney Perry as the Receiver of the property. “Mr. Perry remains the Receiver up to the present time and is still active in this Receivership,” the former AG stated.
Further, Williams highlighted that Rambarran had challenged Perry’s appointment as Receiver in the High Court but the judgment passed down by now acting Chief Justice, Rishi Persaud, deemed the appointment of the Receiver as “lawful, proper and effective.”
“It was further ordered by the Court,” Williams noted, “that the Receiver recover the sum of $223,800,000 against the Ocean View Hotel, together with interest thereon at 17.5% (seventeen decimal five percentum) per annum from the said 10th day of March, 2016, until fully paid.”
The Lease Agreement documents seen by Kaieteur News falls in line with the former AG’s claim that the property is in Receivership as that rental deal was struck between the Receiver, Courtney Perry, and the previous administration – not the purported owner, Rambarran. Per the agreement, a total sum of $13M had to be paid on the 1st of every month.
“On the signing of this Lease, the Lessee [Government] shall pay (three) 3 months Lease which is $39,000,000.00 (Thirty-nine million Guyana dollars) plus $13,000,000.00 (thirteen million Guyana dollars) as damage deposit,” the agreement stated.
The Ocean View Hotel deal remains one of great concern and contention as the agreement between the previous government and owner was shrouded in secrecy, save and except for the cost of rehabilitation, and even this price varied over a period of time. APNU+AFC had initially said it would cost $250M then the price moved to $1B and then finally $1.6B – a sum separate from the cost of rental.
The then administration under ‘The Acquisition of Lands for Public Purpose Act’ signed an order to take full ownership of the Ocean View Hotel. That order, signed by State Minister, Dawn Hastings Williams, was signed on April 29.
With this in mind, the former AG urged the new administration to ensure that the compulsory acquisition of the hotel is completed as the 12th sitting of parliament commences today.
“In light of the foregoing and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic reflecting increased deaths and a surge in positive cases, it is incumbent that the PPP/C Government secures the acquisition of the Ocean View Hotel Limited in furtherance of combating the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
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