SOCU to investigate land giveaways by GLSC
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Mohabir Nandlall has said the land giveaway transactions by the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) would be handed over to the Guyana Police Force’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) for investigation.
The GLSC falls under the administration of the State Land Act. State land is administered by the President who normally delegates it by an instrument to the Commissioner of the GLSC. Upon examining Former Commissioner, Mr. Trevor Benn’s instrument, it was revealed that he was never given the power to issue titles for lands.
Speaking to media operatives on Monday, following a press briefing at the Umana Yana, the Attorney General said the former commissioner issued titles for hundreds of acres of lands across the country. He said those transactions are illegal and unlawful, and therefore a thorough review is ongoing.
“[A] forensic audit may have to be commissioned to understand what went on with those transactions [….] What the review is picking up is some very strange procedures. We observed that there was no public notification exercise for these lands. So, persons have received land, and no one knows how they knew where these lands were and how to apply for them.”
Additionally, some of the land in question have not yet been identified, but an MoU was entered into, and huge sums of money paid with the agreement that persons will get their lease at a later date.
“I have never seen a transaction like that…You don’t know whether the Government even owns the land or whether it is GuySuCo land and I am speaking about hundreds of acres of land.”
Then there are instances where lands are located near each other and have the same size, but the sale prices differ.
“One is sold for $150 million, though no valuation certificate is produced and then on the same street, the same size of land is sold for $12 million. Further down the road, it is given to someone free and the further down the road it is sold for $80 million,” the AG revealed.
Further, a section of land given to a businessman was not even owned by the GLSC, but by the National Sports Commission. That businessman, who sublet it to a food chain outlet, is drawing tens of thousands of United States dollars per month, the AG said.
He committed to having all of the transactions made public in due course.