Nov 22, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – As the probe into the Peter’s Hall land giveaway scandal progresses, information emerging from sources inside the Guyana Police Force (GPF) disclosed that People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) member, James Bond, was fingered as the brains behind the operation.
Both businessmen embroiled in the scandal – Life 1 Pharms Inc. Director, Avalon Jagnandan, and Director of A-Z Pharmaceuticals Medical Supplies and Equipment Inc., Eddie Doolal, were arrested and reportedly told investigators that it was Bond who facilitated the deals which saw 30 acres of prime state lands being transferred to Chinese national, Jianfen Yu.
Furthermore, the businessmen reportedly also disclosed to police that it was Bond, not them, who received a hefty payoff from both deals, amounting to more than $100 million.
Kaieteur News had reported that Jagnandan and Doolal both leased from the state-owned National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) 15 acres of land situated at Plantation Peters Hall, East Bank Demerara.
Investigations done by Kaieteur News discovered that both land deals carried glaring similarities.
Both companies were registered on March 1, 2017 and the lease agreement details for both companies were also identical – both agreed to pay US$11,700 plus tax in lease fees annually for a 20-year period; both received 15 acres in total and both agreements were signed on the same day- May 17, 2018.
Not only that, Kaieteur News also discovered that both companies transferred its lands to Yu, on the same day – January 28, 2020 and for the same price of G$100. Further, both Deeds of Assignment of Lease Agreements were also identical.
Those details would align with what was reportedly told to investigators by the businessmen. Both Doolal and Jagnandan relayed to police that it was Bond who encouraged them to start up companies and apply to NICIL to acquire lands.
Later on, Bond was said to have played a hand in the NICIL transaction and penned lease agreements for the businessmen.
Bond was said to also have encouraged the men to transfer the state lands at a price.
Bond reportedly also found the buyer, Jianfen Yu, whose address is listed as 43 Wellington Street, Georgetown.
Instead of the businessmen receiving the funds from the sale, sources said that it was Bond who demanded to receive 50% of the payment for the land and both businessmen reportedly handed Bond close to $100 million.
But that was not the only land deal that Bond also allegedly benefited from.
Kaieteur News would have reported that Bond received a US$1 million payment from Trinidad logistics company, Lennox Petroleum for the sale of 10 acres of land leased to ARKEN Group Inc.
In that deal, ARKEN and its principal, Jermaine Richmond, leased from NICIL 20.3 acres of land at Peter’s Hall on May 9, 2018 for a 20-year period at US$16,224 per year.
ARKEN later sold the 10 acres to local logistics company GLASS Holdings Inc. on October 10, 2019 for $200M.
Kaieteur News was informed that Richmond is or was at some point employed by James Bond. A wanted bulletin has so far been issued for his arrest.
Like the other deals, instead of the principals of the companies receiving the payment, it was Bond who pocketed the funds. Documents received by Kaieteur News showed that the monies were sent directly to a local bank account with Bond’s name as the receiver.
With all the allegations against him, Kaieteur News made contact with Bond for a comment. He told this paper that he would be issuing a statement by Monday.
It should be noted that Guyana’s State Lands Act clearly stipulates that whenever state lands are leased, the lease agreement must indicate that the lessee “SHALL NOT” part with lands (possession) or “SHALL NOT” assign the interest in the said agreement without the consent of the state.
It states, too, that in the event that there is going to be a transfer to a third party, the state reserves the right to step in and repossess the lands, reverting ownership back to the state.
However, that very clause was altered in the lease agreements currently at the center of these investigations.
The leases were altered to say that “the lessee may divest the land, may part with possession, may assign it to a third-party interest” – an insertion that saw hundreds of acres prime lands being resold and transferred with the state acquiring zero revenue from the transactions.
The government of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, which came to office in August after a five months battle following the March 2nd elections, had insisted that it found a significant number of irregular land transactions involving state properties, including former sugar lands worth billions of dollars.
A number of companies have already returned lands, which were supposed to be developed.
In these instances, investigators found that NICIL, as the representative of the people of Guyana for the transactions, did not even collect all the money when it transferred lands into the recipients’ names.
The police and its Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) are involved in the investigations.
SOCU’s role may involve investigating whether crimes relating to money laundering were committed.
The land transactions, which spans from Wales, Peter’s Hall and Ogle, have seen attention coming down on a number of former ministers within the Coalition Government of David Granger, now in Opposition.
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