The National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) sold and transferred land to a company that paid only a small fraction of the minimum down payment, thus costing the State millions.
The company in question, Premier Sales and Services Incorporated, was sold five acres of what used to be 204 acres of cane land, at Ogle, East Coast Demerara (ECD). The land was valuated in November 2018 and was found to be worth $25 million per acre.
According to the particulars of the deal, Premier Sales and Services sought to acquire the land to develop 20, two-storey stacked townhouses and mid-rise condominiums, as well as roadways and sidewalks… all hefty investments that it was estimated would cost US$30 million and which were supposed to be constructed within 24 months of receiving all requisite building approvals.
However, documents seen by this publication show that Premier Sales and Services Incorporated was only registered on June 12, 2019. Despite its meagre history as a developer, the company’s application for the land was fast-tracked by NICIL.
The company first applied for the land on October 18, 2019, some four months after its registration and by February 20, 2020, the company’s application had been approved by the NICIL Board.
The sales agreement was executed five days later and the land vested to the company on June 11, 2020, in a rushed deal that occurred in the middle of the hotly disputed election controversies that followed the March 2 General and Regional Elections.
According to the sales agreement, the agreed purchase price for the five acres of land, excluding fees and expenses, was $150.4 million. The company was supposed to pay a 50 per cent down payment of $75.2 million, but instead, the company only made two payments of $2.4 million.
The first payment, in the sum of $1 million, was made on February 28, 2020, and the second payment of $1.4 million was made on March 20 of this year. There is reportedly no official record of any other payments being made.
However, NICIL went ahead and vested the land to the company two months later. Signing the vesting order was then Finance Minister Winston Jordan.
On June 16, 2020, then NICIL CEO Colvin Heath-London, wrote to the company’s principal, Danley Major, requesting that he settle his outstanding balance of $153.7 million inclusive of fees… five days after the vesting order had already been issued.