Gov’t advised to file legal proceedings against former Finance Minister to recover lands given away

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See below full statement issued by Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Anil Nandlall:

In pursuance of the Government of Guyana’s promise to keep the public informed of its review of lands, which were gifted away by NICIL under the previous Administration, attached hereto is a schedule containing the names of the companies/principals, locations, date of agreement of sale and purchase and/or absence of such agreement, the size of the lands, the date that Title was vested to these purchasers, the purchase prices for the lands and the total amount paid for these lands.

It will be noted that except in one case, where 10% of the purchase price was paid, a mere fraction of the purchase price was paid but Title was vested by former Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan. It will be further noted that each of the Title that was vested was done so after the 2nd March 2020 National and Regional elections, which the APNU+AFC Government lost and each of the agreement of sale was entered into after the APNU+AFC Government lost a No-Confidence Motion, moved against them in the National Assembly on the 21st December 2018, and therefore, had no power to enter into agreements of sale or vest Titles, in relation thereto.

The Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs has sought and received independent legal advice on this matter and the advice is that Minister Winston Jordan and Mr. Colvin Heath-London have acted recklessly, in bad faith with full knowledge of the flagrant illegalities, which have resulted in millions of dollars of losses to the State.

The Legal Opinion further advises:

The Caribbean Court of Justice in the case of Marin v. Attorney General of Belize [2011] CCJ 9 (AJ) conclusively ruled that the Attorney General could maintain a cause of action against two former ministers of the Belizian Government for the tort of misfeasance in public office resulting from them transferring 56 parcels of state land to a

company controlled by one of them, selling them below market value, deliberately, without lawful authority and in bad faith. The Court went on to state that “[A]s a matter of public policy, serious infractions by a public servant, such as misbehaviour in office, neglect of duty and breach of trust, are to be treated as crimes, subject to the right of any person or body of persons to recover damages for injury flowing from such misconduct.”

Accordingly, we are of the view that the Attorney General could properly maintain an action for the tort of misfeasance in public office against Winston Jordan, and the Director of Public Prosecutions could similarly maintain criminal proceedings against the former Minister.

As a result, the Attorney General will commence civil proceedings to, inter alia, recover the said parcels of land and claim compensation against those implicated, including, Minister Winston Jordan.

Additionally, each of these matters will be passed to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), for their investigations and any consequential actions which may flow therefrom.

A further release will be made of additional infractions alleged committed by former Minister Jordan and Mr. London as unearthed by the ongoing review.

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