Number of steps taken whenever CH&PA finds housing fraud – Minister

A number of actions are taken when the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) becomes aware of fraudulent practices pertaining to housing.

This statement was made yesterday by Minister of Housing Irfaan Ali by way of a written response to APNU Shadow Minister of Finance, Carl Greenidge about the controversial sale of Lot 142 Durbana Square.

The plot of land was sold on January 13, 2013 to a businessman for the sum of $25M but residents say that the playground rightfully belongs to the community and was unlawfully sold. It was also severely undervalued and appears to have been sold in a conspiracy among employees of the Ministry of Labour and others.

According to Ali, these actions include notifying the public of the fraudulent practice by certain individuals, placing pictures of the fraudsters in prominent places around the Ministry, investigations are carried out by the Enforcement Unit of the CH&PA, the file on the matter is forwarded to the Guyana Police Force and if a charge is instituted and the matter proceeds to the court, the officers of the Authority would assist in giving evidence.

Greenidge also asked why criminal charges have never been laid against persons involved in the illegal sale of the playground and Ali stated that the sale of the land does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Central Housing and Planning Authority as it was privately owned by the Civil Service Cooperative Housing Society.

Executive Member of the Lamaha Gardens Community Cooperative Society, Ronald Alli had told a gathering of residents in January this year that the Guyana Police Force, which had been requested to investigate the transactions, had issued two reports on the investigations. “The one in August, we were not given a copy of it until November. I am impressed with the depth of the report,” he said, while noting that the conclusions in the report suggested charges. However, no charges were laid.

According to Greenidge, in March, 2013, the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security requested the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs to take steps to have the transport issued to the purchaser rescinded on grounds of fraud.

He added that on 12th July, 2013, the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security informed the Society that the earlier dissolution of the Registration of the Civil Service Cooperative Housing Society had been rescinded and that irregularities which had been uncovered led to the dismissal of the Chief Cooperatives Development Officer.

Residents who represent the Lamaha Gardens Community Co-operative Society Limi-ted had told Stabroek News that before the land was sold off for $29M, its size was also understated by 22,000 square feet. They had also said that the land was undervalued by around $175 million.

By way of summons, residents of the Lamaha Gardens area have moved to the courts to retrieve the property but they are also non-plussed as they said that the government had reneged on its promise to have the land returned to them. Attorney General Anil Nandlall has since said that only a judicial process can reverse the sale of the land.

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