Coalition land giveaway was ‘organised crime’
-Police, SOCU to be called in
The PPP/C Government has said the widespread distribution of State lands by the Coalition over the last five years, is a clear case of “organised crime” that must be swiftly addressed.
The administration is currently conducting a review of what it said was “massive land giveaways” by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), over the last five years.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall said it is an “amazing experience to review what has transpired under the last administration.”
The review found that most of the lands were “gifted away” after the passage of the no-confidence motion in December 2018.
A large percentage of lands were also leased during the months following the March 2 General and Regional Elections.
The Minister made the statements on Tuesday on his weekly “Issues in the news” Facebook programme.
AG Nandlall said the Government, in such a circumstance, should not have entered into transactions during those periods. “But that is when the previous administration chose to get active in the divestment of State property,” the AG stated.
The review has so far been unable to find any record showing legal courses of action.
“Certainly, no Expression of Interest published, no advertisement inviting persons to apply. No process whatsoever. What is [astonishing] is how persons were told that land is available for giveaway. You cannot look at any of the records and determine that Expressions of Interest were made.”
The Attorney General said audits will be carried out by the Auditor General, following which the Guyana Police Force and the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) will be invited to investigate. Where possible, the State will institute civil proceedings to recover the lands.
“This is organised crime. This is money laundering. This is 50 to 60 types of criminal offences involved here and civil wrongs. The State has a duty to ensure that these lands go back into the State’s ownership and a proper mechanism is employed,” the AG said.
Minister Nandlall questioned the former administration’s decision to sit idly by and do nothing about the land distribution by the State agencies.
“How can a Government not investigate this matter, this grand giveaway of State land, public property and not file a report with the police to get back this land? I have never seen anything like this, anywhere in the world, in my life. I have never seen such capricious exercise of power, such level of corruption in my life.”
He said a number of individuals and companies have already returned their lands to the relevant agencies and are prepared to await a new transparent process, through which they can benefit.