Apr 21, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Colvin Heath-London, was reportedly stranded in Jamaica on Monday and missed the second hearing of the matter in relation to the prime State land giveaway at Plantation Peter’s Hall, East Bank Demerara.
The others who were charged in relation to the prime giveaway are People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) member, James Bond; Director of A-Z Pharmaceuticals Medical Supplies and Equipment Inc., Eddie Doolal, and principal of ARKEN Group Inc., Jermaine Richmond.
The matter was first called on April 1, 2021, in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts before Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan. On the first hearing of the matter, while the others appeared in court, Heath-London was charged in absentia after the court was informed that he was not in the country. Bond, Doolal and Richmond were not required to enter a plea after the indictable charges were read to them.
Bond and Heath-London were slapped with three joint charges, while Doolal is implicated in the second joint charge and Richmond is implicated in the third joint charge. Bond was released on bail in the total sum of $150,000 for the three joint charges, while Richmond and Doolal were both placed on $100,000 bail each.On Monday, which is the second hearing of the matter, the court was informed by Heath-London’s lawyer that his client was stranded in Jamaica and that he is unable to get a flight to Guyana. Bond’s lawyer then informed the court that his client is experiencing “transportation issues”, and Bond too, was absent from that hearing of the matter. However, Richmond and Doolal were present in court.
During the hearing on Monday, the prosecutor asked the court for the matter to be disposed of summarily. This means that the defendants will be required to either plead guilty or not guilty to the charges after it is read to them, and instead of a preliminary inquiry (PI) being conducted in the Magistrate’s Court, a trial will be conducted.
At the end of the trial, a ruling can be handed down by the Magistrate on whether or not sufficient evidence was produced to the court by the prosecution. As such, the matter was adjourned to May 10, 2021, for continuation.
According to reports, Doolal and Life 1 Pharms Inc.’s Director, Avalon Jagnandan, both leased acres of prime State land from NICIL, but transferred the State land at a price to Chinese national, Jianfen Yu. However, Jagnanadan has not been charged.
It is further alleged that in another land deal, Richmond, on behalf of a company, ARKEN Group Inc, also leased acres of land from NICIL. It is alleged that Bond received a payment from a Trinidadian logistics company, Lennox Petroleum, for the sale of several acres of the land that was leased to Richmond on behalf of the company. The same company also sold the remaining acres of land to local logistics company, GLASS Holdings Inc.
Kaieteur News had reported that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic government, which came to office last August after a five-month impasse following the March 2, 2020, 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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