James Bond released from police custody after being held over land giveaway probe

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James Bond hugging PNC/R Chairperson Volda Lawrence upon his release from police custody

Prominent Attorney-at-Law and PNC Member James Bond has been released from police custody several days after he was arrested in relation to the part he played in the giveaways of State lands at Peters Hall, East Bank Demerara (EBD).

This information was revealed by Alliance For Change (AFC) Executive Member Cathy Hughes during a virtual press briefing on Friday morning.

In a brief post on his Facebook page, Bond confirmed his release, saying; “I’m out”. He also posted a photo of him hugging party PNCR Chairperson Volda Lawrence.

Bond was the attorney that represented the three companies at the centre of the Peters Hall land investigation – Life 1 Pharms Incorporated, A-Z Pharmaceutical Medical Supplies and Equipment Inc and Arken Group – in the drafting of leases by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).

The leases were controversial in nature since they were in contravention of State laws which stipulate that when State lands are leased, the lease must state that the lessee must not part with possession without the consent of the State.

However, in this case, both Life 1 Pharms Incorporated and A-Z Pharmaceutical Medical Supplies and Equipment Inc – which both leased 15 acres of land each from NICIL at an annual rate of US$11,700 – flipped those lands to a Chinese national for just $100.

In the case of Arken Group – the proprietor of that company leased 20.8 acres of land for an annual fee of US$16,224 and had his address listed as the same as Bond’s. It was revealed that Bond then received US$1 million for the property after it was flipped to a local oil and gas company.

Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum on Tuesday confirmed that Bond was arrested. This newspaper was informed that the arrest was made acting on information provided to the police from their sources.

Bond, via his Facebook page, however, said that he was taken into custody at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters at Eve Leary and would remain in custody until the 72 hours have expired.

He noted that he had been asked to take a lie detector test in relation to allegations made against him by Eddie Doolall and Avalon Jagnandan in relation to the flipping of the lands.
However, the Guyana Police Force has denied Bond’s statement which purported that he was asked to take a polygraph test. In a statement, the Force said Bond was arrested and is in custody, adding that no request for a lie detector test was made nor does it have any intention to make such a request.

Jagnandan, proprietor of Life 1 Pharms Incorporated and Doolall of A-Z Pharmaceutical Medical Supplies and Equipment Inc were already questioned by the police in relation to the flipping of the lands. Both men, in their statements to Police, implicated Bond as the person who arranged the sale of the lands. Both men have similar stories of being told by Bond to apply to NICIL for the land, after which a buyer was found by the former Member of Parliament.

The issue of sub-leased lands came to the fore after Attorney General Anil Nandlall revealed that A-Z Pharmaceuticals and Medical Supplies Equipment Inc with its address listed at 1321 EE Eccles, East Bank Demerara, and Life 1 Pharms Incorporated listed at Grove, EBD, leased 15 acres of land each at Peters Hall, EBD, from NICIL for 20 years at a rate of US$11,700 per year.

Both companies, by way of Deed of Assignment, subleased the land to a Chinese national of Lot 43 Wellington Street, Georgetown for just $100.

The State Lands Act of Guyana stipulates that when State lands are leased, the lease must state that the lessee must not part with possession without the consent of the landlord (the State) or shall not assign the interest in the lease without the consent of the landlord. If the lessee acts in contravention of that clause, then the State reserves the right to step in and repossess the lands.

However, in the case of the two agreements at Peters Hall, PNC member and Attorney-at-Law James Bond, in drafting the lease agreements, changed that to state: “the lessee may assign, sublet, grant any licenses or otherwise part with the possession and/or purpose and/or dispose of the whole or any part of the demised property or any building or other erection at any time standing thereon or any right or privilege in relations thereto conferred by this agreement.”