Avalon Jagnanan, one of the businessmen at the centre of the questionable transfer of state lands on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD), voluntarily went to the Police and pointed the finger of accusation at former People’s National Congress (PNC) member James Bond.
Bond’s name had previously been mentioned as the recipient of US$1 million in payments on documents connected to similar land transactions.
According to well-placed sources close to the investigation, Jagnanan gave a statement to the Police in which he claimed that it was Bond who asked him to apply to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) for the land.
According to the source, Jagnanan told Police that upon Bond’s request, he wrote an Expression of Interest (EoI) and gave it to Bond, who subsequently informed him that the lease had been granted.
Jagnanan also told Police that after he went to Bond’s office and signed the lease, Bond then found a buyer and the state land was sold for $117 million. Jagnanan reportedly received $60 million out of the transaction. According to what he told Police, this money was given to the former PNC executive.
It was revealed last month that Life 1 Pharms Incorporated, which Jagnanan heads, leased a total of 15 acres of land at Peter’s Hall, EBD for the sum of US$11,700. This land, referred to as plots ‘A17’, ‘A18’ and ‘A19’, was subsequently transferred to one individual for $100.
Similarly, A-Z Pharmaceuticals also leased three plots of land at Peter’s Hall for US$11,700 a year from NICIL. The company then transferred the land to the same individual for a mere $100. Police had detained, and subsequently released, Eddie Doolall, the principal for A-Z Pharmaceuticals, last week. Doolall has since claimed there was no intent to defraud the State.
Last month, Bond was named as the recipient of US$1 million in payments for 20.8 acres of flipped State lands at Peter’s Hall. The revelation was made by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall in a video statement providing an update on the Government-promised investigation into the land giveaways by the David Granger Administration.
He had said that over 50 acres of land at Peter’s Hall were given away through three different agreements by the then Government through NICIL. The PNCR member at the centre of the questionable transactions, now identified as Bond, was listed as the lawyer on record for the drafting of the three contracts.
The AG had revealed that in one instance, 20 acres of land were leased for 20 years for an annual fee of US$16,224 to a company with its address listed as Third Street, Alberttown, Georgetown. The land, referred to as Plots A1, A2, A3, and A4, amounted to 20.8 acres, which were not valuated prior to the signing of the lease on May 9, 2018.
The land was later sold to a company connected to the oil and gas industry for US$1 million, the proceeds of which did not go to the owner, but rather to the attorney on record. The payments were disbursed in two parts at a commercial bank.
Nandlall had said at the time that the address of the company is the same address that the PNCR member has listed on his bank account as his place of residence.
When last contacted by this publication for a comment on the land deal, Bond had said that he has nothing to say on the issue.
There have long been reports of a land grab on the EBD in the vicinity of the Ogle/Diamond bypass road. Now sacked former NICIL Chief Executive Officer Colvin Heath-London and former Finance Minister Winston Jordan also continued to vest land to multiple persons in the midst of the controversy that followed the March 2 General and Regional Elections.
It had previously been announced that Government had sought legal advice, and would be initiating legal proceedings against Jordan and recently sacked NICIL head Colvin Heath-London over their involvement in the giveaway of prime state lands.