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…says charges against him nonsensical
Former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission (GLSC), Trevor Benn was released on $200,000 bail on Friday at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court after being charged for misconduct in public office.
Benn was arrested on Wednesday morning for questioning by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in relation to the leasing of some six acres of land at Ogle, East Coast Demerara (ECD) to Janico Industrial Engineering Limited in 2017.
According to GLSC Commissioner (ag) Enrique Monize, the land doesn’t exist under the GLSC. Speaking with reporters outside of the courtroom, and asked about his experience, Benn said: “I value freedom a little bit more but the experience was good because I get a chance to see from the inside what happens to ordinary Guyanese…I believe now more than ever, that our justice system needs rework.”
Benn appeared before the Court on Friday morning before Magistrate Leron Daly and was not required to plea to the charge. The matter was adjourned until March 31, 2021.
It is alleged that Benn, between January 1, 2018, to March 31, 2020, willfully misconducted himself by causing the sum of $27,000,000 to be paid by Janico Vide Industrial Engineering Limited for the lease of six acres of land at Plantation Ogle, East Coast Demerara, knowing at the time, that the Commission did not have the authority to lease any land. It is alleged that he granted a Provisional Lease on March 27, 2020, to the said company without any description.
Speaking with the Village Voice News on Thursday, Manager of Janico Industrial Engineering Limited, Compton Blair, was adamant that the transaction was not an underhand one but believes that GLSC initially thought it had ownership of the land which was later said to belong to the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Ltd (NICIL).
Even so, he said that the Former GLSC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Trevor Benn should have simply seen to it that the company was refunded its payment instead of the perennial wait.
“I think this is vindictive witch-hunting on the part of the Government to destroy and besmirch the character of a professional black man. I have worked all my life with international organisations, many countries around the world and I’ve never faced this,” Benn told reporters.
“I don’t understand how you could bring a charge that speaks to a man helping the Government, bringing revenue to the Government and you’re charging him for bringing revenues to the Government. It’s a nonsensical charge which the knew of and had to change.”
Before Benn was arrested, an article published by Guyana Chronicle in February stated that, not knowing how to treat with the matter he was made aware of, Monize contacted Attorney General, Anil Nandlall about the transaction.
“I have caused a research to be done and I have been unable to determine any vacant, available land under the control of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission,” Monize wrote to the AG, the newspaper reported.
The comment “under the control of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission” is exactly where the Janico Manager believes the problem lies. He believes, as he has heard, that there was a mix up with the ownership of the land, whether by GLSC or NICIL.
He told this news entity: “Let me make this clear. This was a straight transaction that we wrote the Commission about land. They responded to us and then we did the MOU. At no time them ain’t get no bribe or anything pay any way. No time at all. Some people saying well [its] because you ain’t pay ‘something’ you ain’t get the land and all craziness but the man never, never, never tell me anything like that. He never put nothing like that to me. I honestly feel what I’m hearing is true that maybe the land was promised to the Commission and instead it went to NICIL so he ended up without the land. But then, what should have happened, if that is the case, he should have told us that and said: ‘look, I ain’t got the land, take back your money’ and I ain’t think he would have been in any problem today. That is what should have happened. But maybe he was hoping against hope that the Commission will still [receive the land.”