PEOPLE’S National Congress Reform(PNCR) member and Attorney-at-law, James Bond; former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Colvin Heath-London, along with two businessmen, were, on Friday, hauled before the court in relation to the sale of State land at Peter’s Hall, East Bank of Demerara (EBD).
Bond, Heath-London along with Director of A-Z Pharmaceuticals Medical Supplies and Equipment Inc, Eddie Doolal, and the Principal of ARKEN Group Inc., Jermaine Richmond, were arraigned before the Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court. However, Heath-London was not present in court due to him being out of the jurisdiction and was charged in absentia.
Heath-London, Bond, and Richmond were jointly charged for the offence which alleged that between August 1, 2017, and November 30, 2020, at Georgetown, they conspired together, and with others, to defraud the NICIL and its sole shareholder, the Government of Guyana of property interest in land, namely the grant of a lease of land known as plot A1, A2, A3, A4 Plantation Peters Hall, East Bank Demerara, owned by the said NICIL without the necessary board and Cabinet approval to do same and for the purposes other than that of NICIL.
Another joint charge alleged that Heath-London, Bond, and Doolal between August 1, 2017, and November 30, 2020, at Georgetown, conspired together, and with others, to defraud NICIL and its sole shareholder, the Government of Guyana of property interest in land, namely the grant of a lease of land known as Plot A7, A8, A20 Plantation Peters Hall, East Bank Demerara.
The last charge alleged that Heath-London and Bond, between August 1, 2017, and November 30, 2020, at Georgetown, conspired together, and with others, to defraud the NICIL and its sole shareholder, the Government of Guyana of property interest in land, namely the grant of a lease of land known as Plot A17, A18, A19 Plantation Peters Hall, East Bank Demerara,
Bond, Doolal and Richmond were not required to plead to the charges. Bond was released on a total of $150,000 bail while the two businessmen were released on $100,000 bail. The case was adjourned until April 19.
Bond is accused of benefitting from land deals emanating from the sale of State lands while purportedly looking after the interest of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) which was presiding over the leasing of the lands.
Heath-London was arrested on November 20, 2020. London’s legal team has laid all wrongdoings at the feet of former CEO, Horace James, now deceased.
Two businessmen embroiled in the scandal were 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 national, Jianfen Yu.
Furthermore, the businessmen reportedly also disclosed to police 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.
Like the other deals, instead of the principals of the companies receiving the payment, it was Bond who received the funds.
In the aftermath of President Irfaan Ali’s Government taking office after a five-month battle following the March 2 elections, several companies have already returned lands, which were supposed to be developed.
This occurred after a significant number of irregular land transactions involving State properties, including former sugar lands worth billions of dollars, were discovered.
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 land transactions, which span Wales, Peter’s Hall and Ogle, have placed attention on a number of former ministers within the Coalition Government of David Granger, now in Opposition.