By Richard Bhainie
FORMER Minister of Finance under the A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) regime, Winston Jordan, on Tuesday afternoon, made an appearance at the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) headquarters, Camp Road, Georgetown.
A reliable source informed this publication that Jordan was hauled in for questioning to assist with investigations pertaining to the award of State lands at Peter’s Hall, East Bank Demerara (EBD), specifically to the vesting of the lands, in his capacity as Finance Minister.
On January 12, 2021, former Minister of Public Health and chairperson of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R), Volda Lawrence also made an appearance at SOCU. She informed
reporters that her visit pertained to clarifying a transaction in which her name is attached.
Attorney-at-law, James Bond, and former NICIL Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Colvin Heath-London, are also being investigated in relation to the same matter.
A source told this publication that the said transaction Lawrence was questioned about had to do with a large sum of money transferred to her account from an account of James Bond.
Bond is accused of benefitting from land deals emanating from the sale of State lands while purportedly looking after the interest of the NICIL, which was presiding over the leasing of the lands.
Two businessmen embroiled in the scandal – Life 1 Pharms Inc. Director, Avalon Jagnandan, and Director of A-Z Pharmaceuticals Medical Supplies and Equipment Inc., Eddie Doolal – were also arrested and, reportedly, told investigators that it was Bond who facilitated the deals which saw 30 acres of prime State lands being transferred to Chinese, Jianfen Yu.
The businessmen had reportedly disclosed to police that it was Bond who encouraged them to startup companies and apply to NICIL to acquire lands; also that it was Bond, not them, who received a hefty payoff from both deals, amounting to more than $100M.
Bond also reportedly received a US$1M payment from Trinidad logistics company, Lennox Petroleum, for the sale of 10 acres of land leased to ARKEN Group Inc.
In that deal, ARKEN and its principal leased from NICIL 20.3 acres of land at Peter’s Hall on May 9, 2018, for a 20-year period at US$16,224 per year. ARKEN later sold the 10 acres to local logistics company, GLASS Holdings Inc. on October 10, 2019, for $200M.
The Attorney-General, Anil Nandlall, in November 2020, indicated that Government will be taking legal action against Jordan and Heath-London for lands vested to private investors by the past administration after the historic passage of the no-confidence motion in December 2018.
The Attorney-General’s (AG) Chambers had issued a document that disclosed that lands valuing $2,383,390,759 were issued by the former administration to eight private investors, while only $64,623,276 was paid over, a mere two per cent of the consolidated total.
Among the eight companies listed are Caribbean Marketing Enterprise Inc.; Navigant Builders Inc; Cardiology Services Inc.; Premier Sales and Services; Supergraphics; American Marine Services Inc.; Guyana Oil Company Limited (GUYOIL); and BK Marine Inc.
The document showed that two of those companies, BK Marine Inc. and GUYOIL, were vested lands without an agreement, and, in GUYOIL’s case, no money was paid.
Further, each of those titles were vested after the March, 2, 2020 general and regional elections, and each agreement of sale was entered into after the former A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Government was toppled by the successful passage of the no-confidence motion, which, essentially, ‘stripped’ them of their authority to enter into agreements of sale or vest titles.
In September 2020, Navigant Builders Inc. and Cardiology Services Inc relinquished Vesting Orders and reverted the title of the lands vested to it while, in November 2020, Caribbean Marketing Enterprises Inc. relinquished theirs.
Jordan appeared at SOCU with Attorney-at-law Roysdale Forde, S.C. This publication was informed that Forde accompanied Jordan as his legal representative.