Guyana: Former president, officials arrested for their role in fraudulent land deal

Guyana’s former president Bharrat Jagdeo was among several high profile members of the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) arrested on Tuesday as police continued their probe into the fraudulent acquisition of land by several former ministers and members of the last government.

Members of the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) also arrested Roger Luncheon, the former head of the Presidential Secretariat and the former natural resources minister Robert Persaud.
As he was being taken away by officers, Luncheon told reporters that “we are fully supportive and cooperating with the police in their investigations”.

The police said he was being arrested for the alleged misappropriation of state assets and conspiracy.

Jagdeo, Luncheon and Persaud were later released. they were not required to post bail.

Several former members of the last government, including Jagdeo, have sprawling properties in the area that was developed exclusively for them and media reports here said that other persons who were also offered land in the area and took the offer up, are also to be questioned by the police.

A forensic audit into the land deal, found that the recipients underpaid for the sea side lands by more than GUY$250 million (US$1 million).

The audit report also pointed to the subsequent sale of the lots acquired by at least 2 former ministers for a total of GUY$190 million (US$760,000).
The audit report also noted that in 2010, the PPP government, through the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), also spent more than GUY$200 million (US$800,000) to develop the area. -(CMC)