— falls ill while responding to questions from SOCU
— in relation to billions of dollars in alleged fraudulent transactions
THE Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) is making a major case against former Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, alleging a series of fraudulent transactions amounting to billions of Guyana dollars while he served in government between 2015 to 2020. The Guyana Chronicle understands that Jordon is expected to be charged soon.
A police release late Thursday outlined two transactions purportedly done during Jordan’s time as Finance Minister which are currently under investigation. There were more details for the first transaction under investigation than the second.
According to the release: “The first transaction… relates to the sale and vesting of the state’s largest wharf facilities located at Kingston, Georgetown, valued approximately GY$8 billion (US$40,000,000) and Minister Jordan issued a vesting order passing Title to the purchaser, without the payment of any further sum of monies.”
Police said the vesting order noted the property was sold without encumbrance and liabilities with no further monies owed by the purchaser. “Transport was subsequently issued for this property and the value strangely stated on the Transport was GY$400,000,000 (US$2,000,000)”.
“Further, the Agreement of Sale stated that Title must only pass upon full payment of purchase price”, the police release added.
“The purchaser, BK Marines Limited, paid only 10 per cent of this purchase price, that is GY$20 million (US$100,000) and Minister Jordan issued a vesting order passing Title to the purchaser, without the payment of any further sum of monies,” the release continued.
Accompanied by his lawyers, Jordan reportedly presented himself for question at SOCU’s Camp Street office earlier Thursday morning.
Just as Jordan was being escorted from the SOCU’s Camp Street office to the Sparendaam Police Station for continued question, the GPF released stated, “he claimed of feeling unwell and he was rushed to the Sparendaam Health Centre where he was attended to by health workers at that institution.”
Investigations are ongoing, the law enforcement agency said, but Jordan was also identified as being allegedly involved in a second transaction. “Investigators have evidence to establish that a facility that is a mere fraction of the size of the state property under investigation, located some seven miles upriver was sold by a private company for US$17 million.”
As it relates to the first transaction which the former Finance Minister is implicated in, the matter caught the public’s attention in early 2020 as it was reported in the media that the sale of the Kingston lands occurred just days before the 2020 General and Regional Elections.
A public concern was also that the Cabinet of Ministers apparently granted approval to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), an entity under the Minister of Finance’s purview, for the sale of now-contested land which was in the care of NICIL.
By its own admission in an April 2020 statement to the public during the APNU+AFC administration, NICIL said: “In October 2019, NICIL received approval [for the sale of the land in question], following which the Vesting Order was prepared, signed and gazette.”
At the time, NICIL would have received the approval allegedly from the Cabinet of Ministers. Cabinet had been defunct, a consequence of the court rulings made following the successful passage of the no-confidence motion in December 2018 against the former President, David Granger administration.
In February 2019, Now-Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon, who was then the Minister of State under the David Granger government, said Cabinet had not been meeting because of the January 2019 ruling by the High Court that the no-confidence motion was successfully passed.
However, Harmon said plenaries of all junior and senior ministers were being held. “There is a judgement of the Court that was made with respect to the Cabinet and that judgement is appealed but we have not obtained a stay of the judgement as yet and, therefore, we have not held Cabinet meetings as such,” Harmon had told a press conference in February 2019.
The Cabinet of Ministers for the APNU+AFC administration was never reconvened as successive efforts by the then-government were unsuccessful.