Feb 14, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall S.C., has issued an ultimatum to businessman and ex-Director of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), Wilfred Bransford, for him to return two valuable parcels of State lands, which he acquired as a member of the GLSC or face prosecution.
According to a letter seen by this newspaper, the AG, in his capacity as the State’s legal representative, outlined that Bransford, the owner of Car Care Enterprises, benefitted from the sale of ‘severely undervalued’ lands located at Plantation Ruimveldt, Georgetown.
In his letter dated February 10, 2021, the AG highlighted a number of irregularities with the transaction between Bransford and the GLSC.
According to Nandlall, the businessman capitalized on the relationship with the former GLSC Commissioner, Trevor Benn, and his position of influence as a member of the GLSC Board, to secure the plots of land at $13.5M when in fact the lands cost $150M – 10 times the amount which he paid.
The Attorney General noted too that the parcels of land comprising 0.710 and 0.0887 acres respectively, were compared with the purchase price for similar plots sold by Government, which were valued for as much as $150M.
“Indeed, this relationship exacted a higher standard of care from both you and the Commissioner. That the Commissioner contained two valuations for the said parcels, an initial valuation of $60M and a later one $13.5M but chose the lower valuation as the mutually agreed purchase price, simply aggravated the egregious nature of the misconduct, illegality and conspiracy which permeated this transaction,” the AG said in his letter.
Added to this, Nandlall said it has not escaped his notice that the sale took place three weeks after the March 2 Regional and General Elections.
He continued, “You were issued with a Certificate of Title no. 2020/1111 for parcels 4725 and 4805 Plantation Ruimveldt dated the 15 day of April, 2020.”
Given the circumstances of the transaction, the Attorney General noted, “The evidence on record consistently and cogently establishes that the businessman entered the agreement with full knowledge of these matters severely disadvantageous to the State and correspondingly beneficial to you.”
“No doubt, it will be inferred that you relied on your relationship with the Commissioner and your position of influence on the Board to secure a transaction favourable to you,” Nandlall emphasized, adding that the act surrounding the issuance of the title constitute a clear and egregious fraud.
“There is overwhelming evidence that the title which you now hold was obtained by fraud and is liable to be set aside on that ground. Therefore, the titles issued to you is contrary to the Land Registry Act and State Lands Act and is therefore null, void and of no effect,” he added.
While in the circumstances, Bransford is entitled to face the law, in the interest of avoiding legal proceedings, the Attorney General said that the State is prepared without prejudice to refund an appropriate sum of money to the former GLSC member on condition that he relinquishes all purported rights and interest in the said parcels of land over to and in favour of the State.
In this same vein, Bransford was asked to make contact with the GLSC within 14 days to finalize the settlement. Failure to do so, the AG warned, will result in civil proceedings instituted against him to reclaim the lands. Additionally stereotypes will be taken for a criminal investigation to be launched into the transaction by the Guyana Police Force.
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