25th May 2019

The three-day visit to Guyana by President of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Ricky Skerritt and Chief Executive Officer Jonny Gravewhich commenced on Thursday and entailed meetings with various Stakeholders in Guyana’s cricket, Minister of Sports Dr George Norton and Guyana’s… Read more

The three-day visit to Guyana by President of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Ricky Skerritt and Chief Executive Officer Jonny Gravewhich commenced on Thursday and entailed meetings with various Stakeholders in Guyana’s cricket, Minister of Sports Dr George Norton and Guyana’s Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.

In their congratulatory message after the CWI’s elections the group said that they looked forward to an urgent resolution to the crisis in the administration of Guyana’s Cricket which has been ongoing since 2011. This includes the illegality of the current executives of the Guyana Cricket Board as stated in a sworn affidavit emanating from the Ministry of the Presidency.

On Thursday Evening at the Pegasus Hotel, the CWI officials met with the ‘Guyana Cricket Stakeholders’ group which comprise of representatives from the cricket fraternity of Berbice, East Coast, Linden and Georgetown and many are optimistic that this meeting was the first step to fixing this problem.

President of the Georgetown Cricket Association former West Indies player and Coach Roger Harper, speaking onbehalf of the Guyana Cricket Stakeholders’ group, noted that no decisions or commitments were made at Thursday Evening’s meeting which was more of a ‘fact finding’ visit. Harper informed that the legality of the GBC’s Executive Body was one of main issues discussed.

“We discussed some of the main issues affecting cricket in Guyana but no decisions were made, this is the first time a CWI President has come to Guyana and listened to what we had to say. So I am fairly satisfied that this is start to fixing the problems we have,” said Harper.

CWI, under the Presidency of Jamaican Dave Cameron had turned a blind eye on the GCB’s indiscretions and the GCB was one of the Regional Boards that supported Cameron at the CWI’s last elections.
Repairing stakeholder relationships was one of the key points of the “Cricket First Plan” put forward by Skerritt and vice president Dr. Kishore Shallow in their bid last March to be elected to their posts – and this visit to Guyana is part of a series of trips that the CWI president has undertaken in keeping with this plan.

Skerritt, who defeated Cameron in the last CWI elections in Jamaica, said these fact-finding visits to CWI member territories and problem-solving efforts at the local level are now a key priority for the organization.

Cricket West Indies has also retained high profile commercial lawyer Devindra Kissoon of London House Chambers who represented cricket legends Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan in the past, and lead negotiations among the ICC, WICB and WIPA on matters concerning player’s rights in 2012.

Sources stated that priority of the discussions focused on the hosting of the India Games in Guyana, the development of the youth cricket, and the impact of the recent court rulings on cricket in Guyana.

CWI also expressed concern about the process of appointing the ombudsman and questioned whether consultations were had with the West Indies cricket board or former President Cameron personally.

In March, Dr. George Norton announced the appointment of Stephen Lewis as Cricket Ombudsman although he works in Chambers of GCB’s Attorney Roysdale Forde, and was injuncted from acting in the same position by the Court and who works in same office of the GCB Attorney.

When asked for comment the Cricket West Indies lawyer declined, except to say the meetings were a success and statements would be forthcoming from the Board shortly.

High Court Judge, Justice Fidela Corbin on April 3, 2019 ruled that the executive committee of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) is illegal and could not hold themselves out to be office bearers or perform functions of the Board.

Anand Sanasie, acting in his capacity as CEO of Cricket Guyana Inc, was a member of the presentation party for the U-19 inter-county 50-over tournament.

But while the Guyana Cricket Stakeholders claim that the CGI has also been deemed illegal, Kaieteur Sports has seen no evidence to support this claim.

“This initial short visit will focus on discussions related to the hosting of India matches during the upcoming home series in August, but it will also hopefully give me a more detailed introduction to the legal and administrative issues that are currently prevailing in Guyana,” he said.
The 2019 Regional 50-over U-19 tournament is also scheduled for Guyana, but sources indicated that if the issues surrounding the GCB are not solved then the tournament could be shifted to St Vincent or Grenada.

The CWI pair and their Lawyer were expected to meet with Sanasie and his former GCB executives some last evening.

In July 24 last year, approximately 39 persons from a group calling themselves ‘Guyana Cricket Stakeholders’ staged a peaceful protest against the Government of Guyana outside the Office of Attorney General Basil Williams to highlight Government’s apparent reluctance to address the issue of the Guyana Cricket Administration Act and the alleged illegality of the GCB.

Spokesman for the group, former WICB Director Claude Raphael informed that the two-hour Picket was aimed at bringing to public’s attention the David Granger’s Government’s perceived lack of will in dealing with the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) issue which he feels is affecting the development of Guyana’s cricket. He called for Government’s intervention to bring some normalcy to the manner in which cricket is administered in Guyana. The group wanted free and fair elections to be held by the GCB.

After a challenge to the Guyana Cricket Administration Act 2014 by the GCB, the then Chief Justice (Ag) Ian Chang, upheld an injunction and issued an order that prevented any elections of the GCB and its membership until the substantive matter is heard.

In 2014, then Sports Minister Dr Frank Anthony had, as was mandated by the ‘Cricket Administration Act’, appointed Pastor Winton McGowan, a respected cricket historian, to the position of ‘Cricket Ombudsman’ with his duties being to verify the members that were eligible to vote and oversee the GCB elections.

In the GCB Challenge to the ‘Cricket Administration Act’, Minister Frank Anthony and Attorney General Anil Nandalall were named as defends but now that the Government has changed, former Sports Minister Nicolette Henry and Attorney General Basil Williams, who worked on the ‘Cricket Bill’ when he was in the opposition party, have now become the defendants in the case.

The Guyana Cricket Stakeholders staged their protest to address the issue of the injunction preventing Elections of the GCB, the Guyana Cricket Administration Act and the alleged illegality of the GCB.
The two delegations and the Media were told by Williams that the way was now clear for Elections of the GCB and its Affiliate members since the Challenge to the Guyana Cricket Act from the GCB, which was upheld by the then Chief Justice Ian Chang on April 29, 2015 resulting in an injunction stopping the Elections had been quashed.

The then Sports Minister Dr Frank Anthony and AG Anil Nandlall were named as defendants but before the matter was completed a new Government was voted into power.

“We inherited this injunction from the previous Administration but legally if nothing happens after a year the injunction is abandoned and incapable of revival,” said AG Williams.

That effectively meant that elections of all boards could now be held but the GCB appealed the decision.

Read less

14th Apr 2019

Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George-Wiltshire on Friday ended a bitter decade-long battle between Guyana’s two leading commercial entities… Guyana Realty Investments Limited (GRIL), which is linked to Gafoors Group of Companies, and National Hardware… for the ownership of a prime… Read more

Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George-Wiltshire on Friday ended a bitter decade-long battle between Guyana’s two leading commercial entities… Guyana Realty Investments Limited (GRIL), which is linked to Gafoors Group of Companies, and National Hardware… for the ownership of a prime commercial property located at 117 B Regent and Alexander Streets, Georgetown.

The case ended with the court ruling in favour of National Hardware’s favour and dismissing GRILs petition for prescriptive title.

The parties were represented by some of Guyana’s legal heavyweights- National Hardware by Devindra Kissoon of London House Chambers and Rajendra Poonai S.C., while GRIL represented by Rex McKay S.C., Edward Luckhoo S.C. and Neil Boston S.C.

In what is one of the most followed property disputes in recent memory, Claude and Donna Deygoo, also known as Eddie and Donna Boyer, the proprietors of National Hardware, claimed that they had transported title to, and have been the legal owners of the property since September 2008.

However, GRIL claimed prescriptive title, having allegedly purchased the property from a third party (Bissoon) in 1993 to use the premises to operate a paint shop.
The property was originally owned by Stanley Collymore who died in 1989, and then controlled by his son Anthony Collymore

In her ruling, the Chief Justice noted that under cross-examination, one of GRIL’s main witnesses, Mohamed Ali, admitted that he “lacked personal knowledge of the property for the period 1989 to 1996. At the conclusion of his evidence, it was clear that for the most part, this witness was not personally aware of the facts included in the petition, which he deposed were true and correct. By relying on company documents and what he had been told, his was a reliance on hearsay.”

The Chief Justice in reviewing the testimony of Sattaur Gafoor, head of GRIL, noted that under cross-examination, he admitted that the plan of the property attached in support of the petition did not refer to GRIL but rather another entity, National Investments Limited. When asked by attorney-at-law Kissoon about other occupants of the property, including evidence that the back buildings were occupied by unsavory characters and was a drug yard, the Chief Justice ruled, “I do not accept the explanation given in re-examination [by Gafoor] that the reason why letters [of removal] were not sent to the persons of the back buildings was because he had given them permission to be there.”

Gafoor, according to the court, was unable to answer in cross-examination, why letters of removal were not sent to occupants of the property and why GRIL did not seek to repair or demolish the buildings or erect new buildings on the Property if it truly owned the Property.

Chief Justice George noted, “Apart from the fact that this is also hearsay, this evidence to my mind re-emphasises that GRIL was not in control of the other buildings and as a result was not in exclusive control of the entire property.

“He also said that though it was not stated in the petition, GRIL was in possession via Gafsons which used the property for trading. However, from the rest of the evidence, it was the front building to Regent Street that was being so used.”

In dismissing GRILs petition and ordering costs in favour of National Hardware, the Chief Justice found that the “evidence for GRIL does not establish actual possession and an intention to possess the whole property for the requisite period.”

Read less

31st Jan 2019

A major shakeup is continuing at the country’s biggest gold mining operations. According to the Guyana Goldfields Inc. yesterday, it has reduced the expatriate workforce by some 30 percent with long-serving Country Manager, Violet Smith, being replaced. The moves would… Read more

A major shakeup is continuing at the country’s biggest gold mining operations.

According to the Guyana Goldfields Inc. yesterday, it has reduced the expatriate workforce by some 30 percent with long-serving Country Manager, Violet Smith, being replaced.

The moves would come as the company gets ready for a special meeting on May 22, next. A number of shareholders have been demanding the current board be replaced after the Canadian company lost C’dn$1B in value during the past year.

Those shareholders, including former chief and founder, Patrick Sheridan, are claiming that the company is being mismanaged and that new blood is needed.

According to the company yesterday, as part of the ongoing restructuring program launched on July 30, 2018 to its local operations, it has promoted 60 Guyanese nationals into senior roles.

One of the jobs went to Jermaine Critchlow, who is the Sustainability Manager for Guyana; a role previously held by an expatriate. Former media worker, Miranda LaRose, has been appointed as Corporate Social Responsibility/Sustainability Coordinator for Guyana. “In addition to realizing operational efficiencies, the Company expects these changes and the new local leadership will further strengthen its presence in Guyana and its good relationship with the government.”

The company explained that as part of the restructuring, it has reduced its expatriate workforce by 14, representing approximately 30% of the total expatriate staff.

Total employment post-restructuring consists of 729 Guyanese nationals (representing approximately 96.4% of the overall workforce) and 27 expatriates. The company said yesterday that it is one of the largest employers in Guyana.

“These transformational changes, which are consistent with our Aurora Gold Mine strategic plan established last summer, will strengthen our presence in Guyana and further enhance our operations,” said Scott Caldwell, President and Chief Executive Officer.
“These restructuring efforts complement recent initiatives undertaken to strengthen all of Guyana’s Goldfields and Aurora Gold Mine’s activities in Georgetown will be managed out of a single office in the country, which will increase synergies and efficiencies while reducing costs.

The second office located at North Road will be closed effective immediately. As part of the restructuring, Country Manager Violet Smith is leaving the Company, as her position has become redundant. The company, however, says that it will likely retain Smith in a consultative position.The company had announced on January 3, 2019, that Perry Holloway has been appointed Senior Vice President, Strategy & Corporate Affairs.

Holloway, who recently retired as US Ambassador to Guyana, has assumed responsibility for all activities involving Government relations in Guyana, as well as corporate social responsibility. He will also provide assistance on key in-country management issues as needed.

Exploration Refocused

During the second half of 2018, management made a strategic decision to refocus exploration efforts on the high quality near-mine brownfield targets that will potentially provide the greatest opportunities for near term growth.

This resulted in the net reduction in the total exploration team of 45 employees (of which seven were expatriate geologists), as the Company temporarily closed distant field camps at Iroma, Wynamu and Arangoy, which have been placed on care and maintenance.
The company said it intends to resume its greenfields exploration in the first half of 2019.

“As part of the restructuring efforts to focus on brownfields exploration, the 7 expatriate geologists were replaced with 2 new expatriate hires. The remaining 32 members of the exploration team are Guyanese nationals (94%) in keeping with the Company’s commitment to source skilled local employment. The team consists of 7 geologists, one data technician, 12 core technicians, and 14 drill contractors. For the 2019 campaign, the Company expects to hire an additional three geologists, six technicians and two data clerks.”

Goldfields also said that it has appointed a Guyanese national, Boaz Wade, as Exploration Leader effective January 1, 2019. They have reportedly also retained leading commercial firm, London House Chambers headed by Devindra Kissoon as their counsel.
“Under Mr. Wade’s direction, the company has already made considerable advances in the appreciation of the geology and gold mineralization at the Aurora Gold Mine.”

The Aurora mines contributed over 150,000 ounces last year in production, remaining the largest single private producer.

Read less

18th Jan 2019

High Court Judge Franklin Holder has granted a stay of criminal proceedings against former Housing Minister Irfaan Ali. Ali had moved to the High Court to quash several fraud charges he is facing for the controversial Pradoville Two scheme. As… Read more

High Court Judge Franklin Holder has granted a stay of criminal proceedings against former Housing Minister Irfaan Ali.

Ali had moved to the High Court to quash several fraud charges he is facing for the controversial Pradoville Two scheme. As Housing Minister, Ali allegedly played a key role in selling plots of lands at Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara, to his colleague ministers and other top officials, shortly before Bharrat Jagdeo ended his second term.
Jagdeo himself benefitted from lands, on which he built a large mansion.

Last November, Ali was arrested and slapped with 19 charges by the police’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).Ali was supposed to appear in the Magistrate’s Court again as those matters continue.

The former Minister had however moved to the High Court for an order quashing the decision of the DPP to charge him with the offence of ‘conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law’, on the basis that it was irrational, biased, and influenced by improper considerations and motives. He also asked the Court for an order quashing the information of oath, of Munilall Persaud, Corporal of Police of the Special Organised Crime Unit, on the 19 charges.

In an attempt to bar the application, State Counsel Leslyn Noble had argued that Ali‘s request in the High Court was premature given that matter was not completed in the Magistrate’s Court.

However yesterday, Justice Holder granted “an interim order restraining the Chief Magistrate or any other Magistrate within the Georgetown Magisterial District from hearing or attempting to hear or determine or taking any further steps in respect of the matter, until the case is completed in the High Court.

Ali’s legal team which comprised Attorneys Neil Boston, S.C., Anil Nandlall, and Devindra Kissoon, had pointed out the basis for which their client is facing allegations of offence of Conspiracy to Defraud Contrary to Common Law is “for selling lands in Pradoville without first obtaining a valuation below their true market value”.

In their submissions, Ali’s lawyers argued that in order for a charge of conspiracy to defraud to be successful, there must be underlying unlawful conduct, and that there was nothing unlawful about selling a property without first obtaining a valuation.
Kissoon in his submissions argued that Ali’s alleged “reckless” conduct could in no way amount to a criminal offence, and that “[T]he conspiracy must incorporate some unlawfulness, either in its object or in its means. An agreement to achieve a lawful object by lawful means cannot amount to a conspiracy to defraud; however dishonourable or unscrupulous the object or means might be.”

Added to that, in response to Ali’s application, DPP Shalimar Ali-Hack made an application to be dismissed from the case stating that, “there was no decision by the DPP to charge the Applicant” and that the “DPP did not advise of any charges.”

The DPP stated that “a file in respect of the disputed area was minuted to the DPP’s Office from the Office of the Crime Chief seeking legal advice after legal advice was obtained by the police from the Police Legal Advisor and it was returned without any advice”, since she (DPP) was “a co-owner to a lot in the disputed area.”

Anil Nandlall argued that the DPP’s refusal to charge was an implicit admission that there was no basis to charge, and Senior Counsel Neil Boston indicated the team’s intention to amend the application to challenge the DDP’s refusal to withdraw the charge, despite her admission that she did not advise to charge – the DPP’s admission of her refusal to charge demonstrating the frivolity of the charges.

Justice Holder, agreed there was serious “issue to be tried” and that the issuance of a stay in the interest of the security of justice, and given the fact that the Prosecution took almost 10 years to bring the charges, and that the Court will hear the matter expeditiously, there could be no prejudice to the prosecution.

As such, the Fixed Date Application will be heard on February 5, 2019.

Read less