Sale of State lands to a car dealer

Former Head of GL&SC, Trevor Benn

On Wednesday the former Head of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC), Trevor Benn, was charged with another charge of misconduct in public office; this time, over the sale of State lands to a former GL&SC board member who owns Car Care Enterprise, Wilfred Brandford.
Benn has been arrested before Chief Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus at Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts. The charge he is facing alleges that between December 1, 2018 and August 31, 2019, at GL&SC, Georgetown, while serving as a public official, Benn knowingly misbehaved by committing a sale of two pieces of land , known as Park 4725, as a mutation. of parcel 4716 LRB No. XXX and Parcel 4805 which is a mutation of old parcel 4779, each a portion of Middle Walk, Plantation Ruimveldt, Georgetown.

Former GL&SC board member and owner of Car Care Enterprise, Wilfred Brandford

The charge further stated that Benn had caused Brandford to pay GL&SC the sum of $ 13.5 million for the said lands, knowing at the time that he had no authority to sell the lands, and knowing that that plot of land had was priced earlier in the amount of $ 60.8 million, which constituted his willful misconduct and breach of public trust, without any excuse or reasonable justification.
Benn, represented by Attorney-General Mark Waldron, was not required to plead to the indictable charge. He was given $ 100,000 bail.
On March 12, 2020, Benn was slapped with a charge of misconduct in public office in connection with the leasing of some six acres of unmarked lands in Ogle, East Coast Demerara (ECD). That charge indicated that between January 1, 2018 and March 31, 2020, while a public official at the Lands and Surveys Commission, Benn deliberately misbehaved by causing Janico Vide Industrial Engineering Limited to pay $ 27 million for a six-acre lease. of land at Plantation Ogle, East Coast Demerara, knowing at the time that the GL&SC did not have the authority to lease the land.
“… Having thus granted a temporary lease on March 27, 2020 to the Janico Vide Industrial Engineering Limited without any description, the said willful misconduct amounting to a breach of public trust, without any excuse or reasonable justification,” he noted the accusation further.
This charge is also deductible. Benn was given $ 200,000 bail by Senior Magistrate Leron Daly.
The former Head of GL&SC was arrested in March as the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) was called in to investigate the leasing of State lands. Since then Benn has maintained his innocence, and has labeled the accusations against him “nonsensical”.
As to the lease of lands to Janico Vide Industrial Engineering Limited, the purpose of the $ 27M payment is unclear, as a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Benn and the company also includes a $ 200,000 annual rental fee for six acres of land, leased for 50 years.
The MoU states, “The purpose of this MoU is to… confirm the intention and commitment of the GL&SC and Company for the lease of the said 6 acres of land, owned by the Government of Guyana as part of the State Land stock, and after paying $ 27,000,000,000 … for the development of commercial, industrial and real estate activities. ”
But there is no procedure under the State Lands Act that allows a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed before a lease or temporary lease is granted. Furthermore, GL&SC Acting Commissioner Enrique Monize had stated in correspondence with Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC that, following investigation, he was unable to determine any vacant land available under the Commission’s control in the agreed location.
This issue came to light following the examination of the transaction by the current GL&SC administration after they received a legal notice from the firm’s solicitors in December 2020, demanding the transfer of the six acres of land.
Based on the signed agreement, Janico Vide Industrial Engineering Limited, based in Ruimveldt, Georgetown, was required to make the payments in two installments of $ 13.5 million – the first on signing the Memorandum of Understanding and the balance in November 2017, or on receipt of the lease.
In a letter dated December 22, 2020, Hughes, Fields & Stoby’s law firm disclosed that “… it was agreed by the MOA (Ministry of Agriculture) that the consideration for that lease would be a sum of $ 27M …” The lawyers noted that this amount fully paid in accordance with the MoU; that is, the first payment on May 4, 2017, and the second on March 27, 2020.
Despite this, however, lawyers say, the firm has not received the lands.
Shortly thereafter, the Police were called in to investigate. Benn, who was appointed Head of the GL&SC under the previous APNU / AFC Government, was sent packing shortly after the PPP / C took office.
In August 2020, President Dr. Irfaan Ali made several key powers for the Land Commissioner, which included the authority to rent public lands and grant new leases and licenses. (G1)

Previous articlePolice target motorcycle robbers, bicycle to tackle crime
Next articleOmai is hitting high-grade gold in Region 7