GUYANA: SARA seeking to recover $2.7B from QAII, $274m from GBTI

By Stabroek News – September 6, 2019    This story is developing and will be updated.

The State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) today announced that it was seeking to recover $2.7b from Queens Atlantic Investment Inc over its controversial deal for the former Sanata Textiles and $274m from the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry for the purchase of the Kingston property that is now its headquarters.

A release from SARA follows:

  • STATE ASSETS RECOVERY AGENCY
  • MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT
  • Lot 56 ‘A’ Main and New Market Streets, Georgetown
  • Telephone (592) 227-7050

PRESS RELEASE        

On Thursday 22nd August, SARA filed proceedings in the High Court seeking Civil Recovery Orders against Queens Atlantic Investment Inc. (QAII) by way of Fixed Date Application, and against Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) by Statement of Claim. Both claims are made under the State Assets Recovery Act 2017 and are for the recovery of GY$2,701,619,960 and GY$274,117,404 respectively, including interest. QAII was leasing the Sanata complex and entered negotiations for its purchase. Cabinet approved a formula for the terms of the sale that required a US$27M investment over 3 years and a sum of money reflecting a valuation of the property.

NICIL however concluded the sale based on a formula suggested by the purchaser, resulting in an investment of just US$21M being accepted and QAII paying some GY$344.5M less than would have been payable further to the formula approved by Cabinet. GBTI had submitted only the 4th highest of 14 bids in a tendering process, but was awarded the right to purchase the property that is now its headquarters for GY$224M less than the most recent valuation of the property at that time. Cabinet had determined that the valuation would be the basis of the floor price in the event of a sale of that property.

The State Assets Recovery Act (SARA) mandates the Agency to recover, through civil proceedings, State property unlawfully acquired by a public official or any other person. The Act provides for investigations leading to the granting by the High Court of Restraint and Civil Recovery Orders in respect of unlawfully acquired property. The Act also allows SARA to engage in international cooperation in the recovery of stolen assets of State that are outside of Guyana. The State Assets Recovery Act of 2017 was passed in Parliament on 13 April 2017 and assented to by President David Granger on Thursday 4 May 2017.

The Act created the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) in consonance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) of 2005. Guyana is one of 140 signatories to UNCAC which is a multilateral treaty negotiated by member states of the United Nations (UN) and promoted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It is one of several legally binding international anti-corruption agreements. UNCAC requires state parties to the treaty to implement several anti-corruption measures that focus on five main areas: prevention, law enforcement, international cooperation, asset recovery, technical assistance and information exchange. The State Assets Recovery Act is part of the Guyana government’s efforts to fight corruption.

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