Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
The institution of legal proceedings by the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall against BK Marines, Winston Jordan – the former Minister of Finance, and the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) in an effort to retrieve prime properties in North Cummingsburg, Georgetown is indicative of political harassment, Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde has argued.
Forde is the lead Attorney for the former Finance Minister in the High Court case challenging the sale of Mud-Lots 1 and 2 situated in Cummingsburg, Georgetown; Lot ‘F’ – a portion of Mud-Lot 3 also situated in North Cummingsburg and ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘D’ portions of North Cummingsburg to BK Marines.
From the onset in his written submission, the Senior Counsel told the Court that the institution of the legal action is “indicative of political harassment and persecution of the political rivals of the Attorney General.”
In his application to the Court, the Attorney General had argued that BK Marines had breached the agreement of sale. Further it was contended that Jordan, in his capacity as Minister of Finance, breached the breached his fiduciary duty when he signed the Vesting Orders to allow for the sale of the properties, but Forde refuted the claims made.
He said at all material times, Jordan acted in accordance with the law. As Minister with responsibility for Public Corporations, Jordan, Forde said, was authorized to act under Section 8 of the Public Corporation Act.
That Act states: “The Minister, may by order, transfer to a corporation or to any other person, or place under its or his control the whole or part of (a) any undertaking or any other property of any corporation or any other person or other body corporate owned by the State or in which the controlling interest is vested in the State or any agency on behalf of the state; Any commercial, manufacturing or research undertaking of the State. The corporation, other body corporate or undertaking affected by an order made under subsection (1) shall comply with any directions which may be given to it by, or under the directions of the minister, so as to give effect to the order.”
It was made clear that Jordan’s only duty as Minister with responsibility for Public Corporations was to sign the necessary Vesting Order following Cabinet’s approval.
“There is no duty laid upon the Second Named Defendant as the Minister with responsibility for Public Corporations to exercise any Judgment and or to make any assessment as to the terms of any Sale, inclusive of the question of the nature and extent or suffering of any sale of State assets,” Forde argued.
He further clarified that Jordan was never part of the negotiations and decisions made and or entered into between BK Marines and NICIL.
The Senior Counsel accused the Attorney General of abusing the legal system to score cheap political points.
He submitted to the High Court that the Attorney General is “utilising the legal system to engage in a baseless, vile and unmeritorious, political witch-hunt against the Second Named Defendant and this is evidenced by his failure to institute legal proceedings in respect of persons or companies who acquired large plots of valuable land at highly undervalued prices and or against whom were the subject of investigations by the State Assets Recovery Agency now disbanded by the Attorney General Government.”
To support his argument, the Senior Counsel pointed to the Attorney General’s failure to institute legal proceedings with regards to questionable transactions dating back to 2010, when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was in power.
It was pointed out that on January 12, 2020, NICIL entered into an amendment to an agreement of Sale and Purchase with the National Hardware signed on December 28, 2009 to sell the property measuring 103.88 acres for the consideration of $598.659M.
“The price per acre sold to National Hardware ($5.8M) was substantially less than what National Hardware had bid for a similar property (approx.. 40 acres) in January 2009 in the same Liliendaal/Pattensen area and where the highest bid received in January 2009 was $16.24M per acre and that price had appeared inadequate by the Fourth Named Defendant [NICIL] at that time. Also, the Fourth Named Defendant had received an offer of approximately $15.1M per acre for the said land when the property was advertised for Expressions of Interest in mid 2008,” Forde explained. It was noted that despite the red flags, the then Minister on March 12, 2010 issued a Vesting Order vesting the ownership from the Government via Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission to NICIL.
On March 16, 2010, NICIL wrote Edward Boyer informing him that the land was vested to National Hardware per the agreement of sale, and requested payment of outstanding balance of $540.6M.
A second letter was dispatched on June 1, 2010 requesting payment of the outstanding sum, and by May 9, 2011 the Transport for the property was issued to National Hardware.
“In 2012, National Hardware sold Edward B. Beharry & Company Limited 16.615 acres of land for $495,085,500,” Forde pointed out while adding that the action instituted by the Attorney General is an abuse of process, frivolous and vexatious, scandalous and ought to be dismissed with costs.