Nov 25, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – Senior People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) member and attorney-at-law, James Bond, was yesterday arrested as investigators continue their probe into the large-scale giveaway of prime state lands at Peter’s Hall, East Bank Demerara.
Crime Chief, Wendell Blanhum, confirmed Bond’s arrest.
Bond was fingered by two 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; as being the mastermind behind identical land deals which saw 30 acres of land being transferred to Chinese national, Jainfen Yu, in deals which saw the state being robbed of tens of millions of dollars.
Bond was a prominent face for the Coalition in the recent elections fiasco, which saw President Irfaan Ali being forced to wait five months before being sworn in.
This was because the David Granger-led Coalition was challenging the results, leading to several court cases and a recount of the March 2 election results.
Bond posted on his private Facebook account that he was being taken into custody at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters at Eve Leary.
“I’ve been taken into police custody for questioning at CID Headquarters. I’ve been asked to take a lie detector test surrounding the allegations made against me by Mr. Eddie Doolal and Mr. Avalon Jagnandan. I am currently cooperating with the police,” Bond posted.
Shortly after, he issued another Facebook post saying: “I’m still in police custody and am being kept for 72 hrs. at Brickdam Police Station.”
He said: “I will not request bail, because I have nothing to hide… I am ready and willing to do a lie detector test to prove my innocence, but I am still to be provided with the opportunity to do so.”
However, according to the police, at no point was Bond asked to take a lie detector test.
In a statement, the Guyana Police Force clarified: “Mr. Bond is in custody; but at no time was Mr. Bond asked to submit to a polygraph test or as described by the post, a lie detector test. Further, the Force has no intention to make any such request.”
While in police custody, Doolal and Jagnandan reportedly told police that not only was PNCR senior member the brains behind the operations, he also received a hefty payoff from both deals, amounting to more than $100 million.
Jagnandan and Doolal both leased from the state-owned National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), 15 acres of land situated at Plantation Peter’s Hall, East Bank Demerara.
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, this paper 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. Those details would align with what was reportedly told to investigators by the businessmen.
Both businessmen 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.
However, 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 20.8 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 allegedly 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.
Under normal NICIL agreements, sugar lands are sold and not leased, as was the case in Ogle, East Coast Demerara.
The lands at Peter’s Hall are considered to be very prime lands, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.
Kaieteur News reached out to various executive members from the PNCR to comment to Bond’s arrest. The party’s Chair, Volda Lawrence, referred the reporter to General Secretary, Amna Ally.
When Kaieteur News made contact with Ally, she stated: “I will not comment.”
Later on, Opposition leader, Joseph Harmon, issued a statement deeming Bond’s arrest “a bad practice” by the force.
According to Harmon, if there is clear evidence that a crime was committed, the police must be allowed to conduct their investigations.
However, he posited, “I believe what is happening before us is the clear directions given by this government to the police to harass professionals.”
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