Ocean View exposé could amount to criminal conduct – AG Nandlall

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

Attorney General Anil Nandlall says his government is actively considering a lawyer’s letter from the owner of the Ocean View Hotel, Wilfred Rambarran who is claiming that he still owns the property even though over $1B was spent by the previous administration to have it transformed into an infectious disease facility.

When contacted by INews, Nandlall said he has since requested that this controversial project be examined by the special team of financial analysts that was assembled by President Dr Irfaan Ali to assess nineteen State agencies.

“…because certainly, from all indications, hundreds of millions of dollars were drawn from the consolidated fund for a capital project without parliamentary approval. That is a clear violation of the Constitution of Guyana and that Fiscal Management and Accountability Act,” the Attorney General explained.

“A deeper probe must also be embarked upon to enquire whether the monies so expended do not also amount to criminal offences including misconduct in public office,” he posited.

Rambarran is claiming that he still owns the building which was reportedly compulsorily acquired under the David Granger-administration to be refurbished into an infectious disease hospital to house Covid-19 patients.

Rambarran, who is a known APNU/AFC associate, claims that though the previous government issued a Notice of Compulsory Acquisition for the former Ocean View Hotel, he believes it is of no effect because compensation has not been discussed or paid.

According to Nandlall, these revelations are mind-boggling.

“$1.6B was apparently spent on a property that is not even owned by the government, according to the letter. This must amount to criminal conduct. The nation was led to believe that this was State asset. Now it is being revealed that it is apparently private property,” the Attorney General asserted.

“Imagine spending $1.6B to build a property that is not owned by you!”

Nandlall contended that “to say that it this boggles the rational mind is to put it most mildly.”

The Attorney General said these are only his preliminary remarks on this issue, assuring that the government will have “a lot more to say about it in the next few days”.

The infectious disease hospital

The former Granger Government embarked on transforming the flood-prone building into a facility to house Covid-19 patients amid much criticisms, especially since it was in caretaker mode. In fact, the details surrounding the deal were kept secret from the public.

According to the lawyer’s letter sent to the new government, the Granger-led caretaker administration had initially agreed to pay some $13 million per month to use the facility for a period of 12 months.

The former administration would have later issued a Notice of Compulsory Acquisition of the Hotel.

Rambarran, in his lawyer’s letter dated August 6, has threatened legal action against the new government if millions of dollars owed as rent for the property is not paid within 14 days.

Former President David Granger

Though a Notice of Compulsory Acquisition was issued by the David Granger Administration, it appears that the former coalition government failed to properly compulsorily acquire the property in accordance with the Laws of Guyana.

The facility was officially commissioned on July 30 by caretaker president Granger – two days before an election declaration was made and Dr Irfaan Ali of the PPP/C was sworn in as President.

But even at the time of the commissioning, the hospital was non-functioning.

See below Wilfred Rambarran’s lawyer’s letter to the new government: