Jordan was warned of criminal sanctions for selling waterfront property on ‘favourable terms’ to BK

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In 2019, officials of the David Granger led government, including former Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who is now being prosecuted, was warned of such an outcome while negotiating the sale of prime waterfront properties in Kingston, Georgetown to BK Marine Inc. on “favourable terms”.

A Legal Opinion was solicited by the then Ministry of Public Infrastructure and offered on January 18, 2019, by attorney-at-Law Ronald Burch-Smith.

In the legal document seen by the News Room, Burch-Smith had also cautioned of the possibility of civil sanctions even as members of the former government now claim that it was a Cabinet decision to sell the land.

 

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In the five-page document, it was noted that BK Inc was already in a 20-year lease arrangement with the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) and paid an annual rent of $110,000.

Failing to meet the criteria of the lease arrangement, BK Inc. reportedly stopped paying the lease sometime in 2011 and as a result, the PPP/C government sued the company in 2013. At the time of the sale, the company owed some $100 million in rent to NICIL.

Burch-Smith, in his legal opinion on the sale, had warned government officials that in their joint discretion, they should note the possibility of criminal and civil sanctions.

He referenced specifically the criminal offence of misconduct in public office, the same charge that Jordan is now facing and which the APNU+AFC claims is political.

“The sale to BK International on what appears to be favourable terms may also give rise to civil claims against the decision-makers,” Burch-Smith advised the APNU+AFC government.

Notwithstanding, Jordan still went ahead with the sale and was on Tuesday released on $3 million bail for the offence.

Jordan, who served as Finance Minister under the previous APNU+AFC government from 2015 to 2020, appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.

Particulars of the charge alleged that Jordan, being and performing duties of Minister of Finance and being the concerned Minister for the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) between February 26 and July 31, 2020, at Main Street, Georgetown, he willfully misconducted himself by acting recklessly when he signed the Transfer of Property Order, No. 50 of 2020.

The court heard that the said order was published in the Official Gazette transferring to and vesting to BK Marine Inc. absolutely, all buildings, erections, stellings, platforms and further appurtenances, that is to say, Mudlots 1 & 2, F of Mudlot 3, A, B & D, situated at North Cummingsburg Georgetown, being over 2.553 acres.

The court further heard that BK paid only $20,260,276 for a property valued over $5 billion – a price that was grossly undervalued. He was not required to enter a plea and the matter was adjourned until February 10, 2022.

 

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