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…says his personal items disappeared at police station
…investigators provided with evidence that the late Horace James approved subletting
By Lisa Hamilton
Former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) (ag) of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Colvin Heath-London has been detained by the police for over two days and efforts are now being made to detain him even further as investigation into several land transactions under NICIL continues.
In a press release on Sunday, one of the lawyers representing Heath-London, Attorney-at-Law, Nigel Hughes detailed that investigators have been provided with proof of his client’s innocence but continue to deny bail and prolong detention.
Heath-London voluntarily attended the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Police Headquarter on November 20, 2020 at 08:30hours in the company of his Attorneys and was immediately arrested for the offence of conspiracy to defraud.
During the day, he was questioned extensively in a video recorded interview. One of the main questions asked was whether he was aware that a clause which requires Lessees from NICIL to secure permission in writing from NICIL before subletting the leased property was included in contracts of four companies.
Others were whether he was aware of any Board or cabinet approval for the leases which did require written permission of NICIL before they could sublet the properties and whether he knew various executives of companies which had leased land from NICIL.
Heath-London was also asked strange questions such as whether he knew the late Horace James; whether he knew the whereabouts of James; whether he knows Attorney James Bond; and whether he knows Sworn Land Surveyor, Timothy Fisher. On all occasions, he exercised his right to remain silent and was questioned until 18:30hours on Friday.
During this period, investigators were informed that, at the time of the execution of the leases, Heath-London was not the CEO (ag) of NICIL as that Office was held by the late Horace James, while Heath-London was head of the Special Purpose Unit (SPU).
His Counsel provided investigating ranks with electronic copies of NICIL’s Board minutes and records for January 15, 2018, prior to the no-confidence motion, which recorded that James had informed NICIL’s newly appointed Executive Head about the land at the Peter’s Hall area which was to be designated as an industrial park in support of Guyana’s new oil and gas sector.
James had also opined that securing capital to facilitate business alliances such as joint venture arrangements may be stymied and therefore put forward that lease transactions should be amended to facilitate sub-letting, thus creating a more competitive platform for local companies and nationals to benefit from this new business opportunity.
It was therefore decided that NICIL’s CEO would treat with the commissioning of valuation and survey reports and the preparation of leases to qualified applicants to facilitate onward subletting by all approved leases. Meanwhile, Industrial Parks Lease transactions were to be formulated immediately for the Peters Hall area and such areas as Berbice and Demerara were also slated as possible industrial park developments sites to be commissioned.
These decisions were approved and stamped by James on January 12, 2018 and received by NICIL/SPU on January 15, 2018.
Though this information was provided to the investigators and bail was requested, this was denied with no reason given and Heath-London was transported to the Brickdam Police station where he was detained.
The next day, Saturday, November 21, 2020 the clothing and personal items belonging to Heath-London, which had been lodged in the presence of Hughes the night before, had mysteriously disappeared.
“London was denied the opportunity to take a shower or perform the basic personal hygiene measures before being taken away to CID HQ for further questioning. The mysterious disappearance of his personal property, including his toothbrush and other personal property, was duly reported to the investigation rank,” Hughes updated.
On Saturday, he underwent further questioning and about leases and during the questioning he was confronted by the legal officer of NICIL and questioning ended after four hours. Again, Counsel requested bail for Heath-London but this was denied.
“To date the only allegation which has been put to Mr. London is that the clause which required the written permission of the lessee to sublet was not included in some contracts. It was pointed out to the investigating ranks that the omission of the clause which did not require the written permission of NICIL is not a criminal offence and had been sanctioned by the Board as per the board decision,” Hughes stated.
“No reason has been provided for the detention of Mr. London for carrying out the policy of the Board of Directors for decisions taken prior to the no-confidence motion. The State has not lost any revenue neither has any allegation to date to Mr. London that the rent was below the market rate.”
During the interview, the attorney learned that the current NICIL Board had made the complaint against Heath-London but the investigators were unable to provide proof that written permission of the lessee to sublet was required.
Heath-London’s lawyers have now learned that an application to extend the time for Heath-London’s detention is being prepared by Lawyers for the state.
CAPTIONS SAVED AS: HEATH
HEATH: Former Chief Executive Officer (ag) of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and head of the Special Purpose Unit (SPU), Colvin Heath-London (DPI photo)