April 18, 2021

Guyana Guardian

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Gov’t moves to court to revoke land agreement with Car Care owner 

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

Attorney General Anil Nandlall has moved to the High Court to have an agreement of sale between the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission and Car Care Enterprise, for a property in Ruimveldt, East Bank Demerara, terminated on the grounds that it is illegitimate. The Government, through the Attorney General, is also claiming $500M in damages.

In a Statement of Claim filed recently against Wilfred Brandford of Car Care Enterprise; Trevor Benn in his capacity as former Commissioner of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission; Julian Barrington in his capacity as Chief Valuation Officer (ag), and the Registrar of Lands, the Attorney General asked the High Court to declare that the Agreement of Sale dated March 23, 2020 for a property situated at Block XXX, Plantation Ruimveldt, East Bank Demerara, is illegal, unlawful, null, void and contrary to public policy.

Car Care Enterprise is said to have received a Certificate of Title on April 20, 2020 for the parcels, which are 0.710 and 0.0887 of an acre each, but the Attorney General has asked the Court to declare it unlawful, and for there to be an order directing the Registrar of Lands to set aside the Certificate of Title.

Additionally, the Attorney General has also asked the High Court to declare that Brandford, the first named defendant, has been unjustly enriched in the sum of approximately $150M, which is the true representation of the value of the property situated at Parcels 4725 and 4805, Block XXX, Plantation Ruimveldt, East Bank Demerara.

He is also requesting an Order for Restitution to the State of the property, and another order for disgorgement of any sums paid by Brandford.

The Government is also seeking damages in excess of $200M against Benn and Barrington for loss and damage suffered as a result of negligence and or breach of duty of care owed to the State; damages in excess of $100M for loss and damage suffered as a result of breach of fiduciary duty to the state by the former Commissioner of Lands; and another $100M for misfeasance in public office committed by Benn.

Another $100M is also being claimed for loss and damage suffered as a result of fraud committed by the first, second and third named defendants.

In defending the claims made, and declarations and orders sought, the Attorney General explained that the property now owned by Car Care was at all material times owned by the State, and there power to sell State Lands is vested only in the President by virtue of Section 3 (1) of the State Lands Act, Cap. 62:01.

That function of the President was never delegated to the Second Named Defendant by Order 9 of 2016, the Attorney General said.

“On the 23rd March, 2020, the Second Named Respondent for and on behalf of the Government of Guyana, illegally, unlawfully and negligently entered into an Agreement of Sale and Purchase with the First Named Defendant for the property situate at Parcels 4725 and 4805, Block XXX, Plantation Ruimveldt, East Bank Demerara, comprising 0.710 and 0.0887 of an acre respectively held under Certificate of Title No. 2020/1111 dated the 15th day of April, 2020. The Second Named Defendant sought no input from any other person or department within the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission nor was approval sought or obtained from the President to effect the sale of the property to the First named Defendant,” the Attorney General argued.

The former Commissioner of Lands is being accused to abandoning all internal processes with respect to the sale of the State Lands. “…there was no competitive bidding and the entire process was sanctioned entirely by the Second Named Defendant in violation of the provisions of the State Lands Act,” the Attorney General contended. It was noted that the property was sold for $13.5M – a sum significantly lower that the market price.

“A review of this transaction and similar such transactions reveal that similar sized parcels of land in the said vicinity of the property in question were sold by the Government of Guyana for as much as $150,000,000 (one hundred and fifty million Guyana Dollars), more than ten times the price paid by the First Named Defendant. That this fact was within the peculiar knowledge or ought to have been within the peculiar knowledge of both the First and Second Named Defendants as they both served as members on the Board of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission,” the Attorney General submitted.

Against that background, the Attorney General asked that both the Agreement of Sale and Certificate of Title be nullified.

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