25th Feb 2020

Source: NewsRoom In a scathing eight-page letter written to Dr. Jan Mangal, by Foreign Secretary Carl Greenidge, through leading commercial lawyer Devindra Kissoon of London House Chambers, Greenidge has accused Dr. Mangal of defamation and has threatened to sue him… Read more

Source: NewsRoom

In a scathing eight-page letter written to Dr. Jan Mangal, by Foreign Secretary Carl Greenidge, through leading commercial lawyer Devindra Kissoon of London House Chambers, Greenidge has accused Dr. Mangal of defamation and has threatened to sue him for one million US dollars unless he immediately cease and desist from making further publications and issues a corresponding apology.

Greenidge alleges in his letter that Dr. Mangal defamed him in a series of interviews given to Kaieteur News, letters written to and published by Stabroek News and well as on social media. The letter alleges that Dr. Mangal in those publications falsely “accused Mr. Greenidge, a selfless civil servant, in the strongest terms as being corrupt, clandestine, “being supported by [his] friends in the private sector who get the construction contracts” and shockingly, “collud[ing] with companies to defraud the country.”

Mangal, has been an open critic of the Government, accusing the Government and Greenidge of keeping the Exxon contract secret. Greenidge states “the Articles are based on the false premise that Mr. Greenidge was part of a core trio of senior Government representatives who were collectively responsible for the Government’s decision not to release the Exxon contract, an allegation which is not only untrue, but fundamentally offensive and defamatory.” Greenidge alleges “While being outspoken about non-disclosure of Exxon’s signing bonus so as to give Guyana a legal advantage at the ICJ, and an economic advantage generally, at no time has Mr. Greenidge been responsible for the Government’s decision not to release the Exxon contract, an entirely separate matter. The letter goes on to state “At no time was our client responsible for re-negotiation or revision of the Exxon contract. These statements impugn the reputation, goodwill and basic integrity of our client, and constitute actionable libel per se. This statement is blatantly false and maliciously designed to injure our client’s good name.”

In referring to a letter allegedly written by Dr. Mangal to Stabroek News on January 27, 2020,  where Mangal alleges that Guyana lost US$5 billion dollars as a result of the Exxon deal, the letter states “At no time was our client responsible for re-negotiation or revision of the Exxon contract. These statements impugn the reputation, goodwill and basic integrity of our client, and constitute actionable libel per se. This statement is blatantly false and maliciously designed to injure our client’s good name. Moreover, the juxtaposition of a sum of money that Exxon will benefit from and our client’s name in a list of three persons identified as being responsible for Exxon receiving that money, implies that our client is directly responsible for Guyana losing money. This is untrue and in the above mentioned context of the oil industry and the suspicion with which it is viewed in Guyana’s society, the average reader would assume that our client is at the very least inept, and/ or the most corrupt, colluding with or being overpowered by Exxon to the detriment of the Guyanese taxpayers, a position which is simply false.”

In referring to another alleged letter written by Mangal to Stabroek News on January 20, 2020, whereby Mangal allegedly refers to the recently published Global Witness report and comments made by Greenidge in that regard, Mangal apparently asserts that Greenidge was an advocate for keeping the Exxon contract secret and not renegotiating the contract. In response thereto, the cease and desist letter states “These statements impugn the reputation, goodwill and basic integrity of our client, and constitute actionable libel per se. In this article, you have juxtaposed Global Witness’ history of uncovering corruption alongside your false claims of our client being an advocate for the foreign oil companies by advocating for secrecy of the contract information and by being against negotiation. This juxtaposition is in the context of Guyana’s society and the suspicion surrounding the oil industry. These allegations that you have published mean, and were understood to mean by the average reader of the article that our client has been engaging in clandestine and corrupt activities with foreign oil companies and is therefore against transparency, is corrupt, or is at the very least unprofessional and inept. These allegations and charges amount to a very serious libel of my client and have caused him considerable distress and embarrassment. Additionally, these assertions are defamatory and blatantly designed to lead readers to believe our client is guilty of impropriety.”

And in response to Mangal’s alleged letter written to Stabroek News on February 2, 2020, the cease and desist letter states “These statements impugn the reputation, goodwill and basic integrity of our client, and constitute actionable libel per se. Despite not referring to our client by name, in the context of your previous publications outlined in this letter where you accuse our client of colluding with foreign oil companies, the fact that our client is the only Cabinet member who also served in the Forbes Burnham Cabinet and the fact that our client is a member of government with family members who operate in the private sector and have been awarded state contracts, the average reader would understand that the allegations in your letter refer to our client. You make allegations of theft and provide an example of how an oil company could easily “buy off” Guyanese elites. The average reader would conclude that our client is one of these elites who have been stealing from the State and who have been bought off by the oil companies, especially when read together with your later comment where you state “These politicians are being supported by their friends in the private sector who get the construction contracts.” These malicious, intentional and reckless statements are defamatory, causing our client harm, and subjecting him to considerable ridicule.”

The cease and desist letter goes to refer to various Facebook posts allegedly made by Mangal, calling them “crude and false.. designed to maliciously injure” Greenidge, which have “caused injury to our client and his good name”, Greenidge denying he has received “special or illegal favours” from Exxon Mobil or other participants in Guyana’s oil and gas sector.

The cease and desist letter also alludes that the contents of one of Mangal’s Facebook posts may offend the Cyber Crime Act 2018 and can constitute a “threat to intimidate and harm our client”, Kissoon stating “we have also been instructed to pursue all civil and criminal remedies” provided by the Act.

The letter ends with a demand for Mangal to cease and desist from further publication and a threat to pursue all available remedies “including, but not limited to, monetary damages for actual damages caused by your defamatory statements in the amount of at least US$1,000,000.00 (G$215,000,000.00), plus costs and attorneys’ fees which could well exceed US$100,000 (G$215,000), unless you immediately retract your statements and issue an apology as mutually agreed, which is to be published with the same prominence and frequency as the Articles.”

The full text of the letter is to be found here.

Read less

2nd Feb 2020

Source: Kaieteur News On March 15, 2019, Justice Franklin Holder issued a judgment against Hong Kong Golden Telecom Limited (HKGT) to pay up US$10.7 with interest at the rate of 12% until paid, as a result of HKGT’s failure to… Read more

Source: Kaieteur News

On March 15, 2019, Justice Franklin Holder issued a judgment against Hong Kong Golden Telecom Limited (HKGT) to pay up US$10.7 with interest at the rate of 12% until paid, as a result of HKGT’s failure to pay moneys that were owed for the purchase of the State’s 20 percent shares in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT).

The National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) was able to achieve this success following stellar representation by Devindra Kissoon of London House Chambers.

The particulars of the case state that in 2012, NICIL sold its 4,125 shares in GTT to HKGT for the sum of US$30M but only US$25M was paid. Despite efforts to recover the amount owed, HKGT, refused to pay NICIL, instead employing strong arm negotiation and delay tactics to stonewall NICIL, offering NICIL arms and computers in lieu of payment.

HKGT for seven years hid behind the veil of secrecy, largely relying on the fact that it was located in China, and that should NICIL get judgment against them NICIL, would be unable to enforce that judgment since it had no identifiable assets and in any event, an arbitration award issued in England would be difficult to enforce in China.

In explaining why at that time Court action had not been pursued, NICIL’s former CEO, Horace James, had disclosed to Kaieteur News that NICIL initially consulted with UK counsel who at that time advised that despite significant expenditure to pursue arbitration, there was no guarantee of recovery hence it sought to enter negotiations with HKGT.
After negotiations failed, NICIL received local advice that since the GTT’s shares purchased by HKGT were issued by a Guyanese company, those shares, an identifiable asset of HKGT, pursuant to principles of private international law, were located in Guyana, making recovery of the sums owed possible without proceedings in England or China.
Court filings reveal that NICIL thereafter obtained judgment against HKGT, and restrained it from transferring the GTT’s shares to any other person to prevent it from escaping judgment. NICIL also began enforcement proceedings against HKGT to issue a lien against GTT shares purchased by HKGT, and Justice Holder on July 15, 2019, issued an order in favour of NICIL charging the 4125 GTT shares sold. NICIL also obtained a stop notice issued to GTT, restraining GT&T from paying any dividends to HKGT.

Furthermore, court filings show that on January 2, 2020, NICIL became aware that GTT intended to issue a dividend to HKGT in the amount of US$3,200,000, and on January 13, 2020 Justice Holder issued an order in favour of NICIL garnishing those dividends.
Thereafter, GTT issued a check to NICIL for US$3.2 M. It appears that NICIL will recover the remaining sums owed from the charged shares and future dividends to be paid. Now that the US$3.2M was received, NICIL has more than US$7M outstanding to draw down.
Based on Justice Holder’s judgment, NICIL will recover more than double the amount initially owed to it. It is also gaining interest of 12% until the remaining of judgment is fully paid.

Read less

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