Latest update May 27th, 2023 12:27 AM
Nov 03, 2020 News
– Gov’t asks police, SOCU to investigate Coalition transactions
Kaieteur News – The Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General (AG), Anil Nandlall, plans on taking legal actions against the former Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, and the recently sacked Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Industrial & Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Colvin Heath-London.
According to the AG, the legal proceedings are grounded in the contention that Jordan and Heath-London had played primary roles in the giveaway of prime Ogle lands, said to be worth billions of dollars.
The alleged giveaways took place under the leadership of the previous A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), after the March 2nd General and Regional Elections.
In the statement, the AG had attached a schedule containing the names of the companies/principals, locations, date of agreement of sale and purchase and/or absence of such agreement, the size of the lands, the date that title was vested to these purchasers, as well as the purchase prices for the lands and the total amount paid for these lands.
A review by the Auditor General office had found that no legal course of action was followed in the distribution of the state assets.
“Certainly, no Expression of Interest published,” the AG commented, “No advertisement inviting persons to apply. No process whatsoever. What is [astonishing] is how persons were told that land is available for giveaway. You cannot look at any of the records and determine that Expressions of Interest were made.”
Notably, Kaieteur News, in a series of articles, had exposed how the Jordan and NICIL vested lands without receiving any monies.
One glaring case involves developer Navigant Builders (Windsor Estates), which had plans of developing a prestigious housing scheme in Ogle.Even without issuing any payment to the government, Navigant Builders was gifted 30 acres of land worth $900M.
When PPP/C assumed office, Navigant, as well as four other developers, took the decision to return the lands vested to them. The developers premised their rescinding on the fact that they wanted to engage with the government on transparent terms.
“The Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs,” the Sunday statement said, “has sought and received independent legal advice on this matter and the advice is that Minister Winston Jordan and Mr. Colvin Heath-London have acted recklessly, in bad faith with full knowledge of the flagrant illegalities, which have resulted in millions of dollars of losses to the State.”
According to the statement, the legal opinion further advises “The Caribbean Court of Justice in the case of Marin v. Attorney General of Belize  CCJ 9 (AJ) conclusively ruled that the Attorney General could maintain a cause of action against two former ministers of the Belizean Government for the tort of misfeasance in public office resulting from them transferring 56 parcels of state land to a company controlled by one of them, selling them below market value, deliberately, without lawful authority and in bad faith.”
The Court went on to state that “As a matter of public policy, serious infractions by a public servant, such as misbehaviour in office, neglect of duty and breach of trust, are to be treated as crimes, subject to the right of any person or body of persons to recover damages for injury flowing from such misconduct. Accordingly, we are of the view that the Attorney General could properly maintain an action for the tort of misfeasance in public office against Winston Jordan, and the Director of Public Prosecutions could similarly maintain criminal proceedings against the former Minister.”
As a result, the AG will commence civil proceedings to, among other things, recover the said parcels of land and claim compensation against those implicated, including, former Minister Jordan.
Meanwhile, AG Nandlall has sought the assistance of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and its Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) to investigate transactions involving state lands during the tenure of the APNU+AFC Government.
The AG yesterday released letters to the agencies, in which he wrote “The Government of Guyana hereby requests a criminal investigation to be conducted into the said transactions and for all consequential legal recourses to be pursued including, the institution of criminal charges, where necessary.”
In earlier statements, AG Nandlall had described the massive land transactions as “organised crime” and indicated that every effort would be made to recover the lands.
Meanwhile, Jordan has thus far denied all allegations regarding him and other in the land giveaway. In a statement to the press yesterday, the former Finance Minister wrote: “I state categorically that I, Winston Jordan, former Minister of Finance in the Coalition Government performed my duties in compliance with the oath of office and to the best of my abilities. This I have done in my over 35 years of public service, in various capacities. On the advice of Counsel, I would refrain from delving into matters of an evidentiary and factual basis. This will be done at the appropriate time.”
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