By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
While he was President, Bharrat Jagdeo bought two plots of state land at Plantation Sparendaam and Goedverwagting – commonly referred to as “Pradoville Two” – and while the two lots combined were valued at $57M, Jagdeo reportedly paid only $11.3M – less than 20 percent of the lots’ value.
The two plots acquired by Jagdeo were designated lots 241 and 246. The then President paid $2.3M for the land at lot 241 and, according to court documents, paid just over $9M for the plot at 246. He then built a massive structure at lot 246 where he currently resides.
Guyana Standard previously reported that SARA served Jagdeo and others with civil recovery papers. But a source at SARA told this news entity just how much “the state has been robbed.”
The source pointed to an appraisal report prepared by Mr. Hugo Curtis, a Valuation Surveyor. Curtis estimated lot 241, for which Jagdeo paid $2.3M, to be worth just over $22M. The other plot, lot 246, was bought by Jagdeo for approximately $9M but was valued at over $35M. This latter lot is well over an acre.
While much controversy surrounded the allocation of the oceanfront plots and gained widespread media attention, nothing was done about it until the change of government.
Now, the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) is looking to recover both plots.
SARA does not believe that it is a case where the then President was not aware of the value of the lots for which he was paying so little.
In its court document, SARA noted, “At the 19th board meeting of NICIL/PU, held on Thursday 16 August 2007, the then Executive Director, Mr. Winston Brassington, reported to the board that there were 15 acres of land at Sparendaam which were good for sale. HE FURTHER RECOMMENDED THAT THE LAND WOULD BE IDEAL FOR HIGH INCOME HOUSE LOTS, TOWNHOUSES OR CONDOMINIUMS.”
SARA is further maintaining that Jagdeo and his cohorts did not allow the State to benefit sufficiently from its properties.
The court document states, “The decision of the Cabinet to allocate and distribute the aforementioned properties at prices which were below the then current valuation to a restricted group of persons with significant financial resources deprived the State and the people of Guyana of the optimal benefit of the State’s asset and consequently caused the State and the people of the Guyana to lose consideration and or value on the disposal of the State’s assets.”
The documents continued, “The purported transfer of the State’s assets to a restricted and limited group of persons of privilege and considerable financial worth at values below their assessed market value without any purported benefit to the State was a disposal of the State’s assets to a selected privileged group at a considerable financial and other disadvantage to the State and People of Guyana.”