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Nov 1, 2016

Land for Peanuts in Pine Ridge and Turneffe

Two former United Democratic Party politicians from the Cayo District are among the latest to be fingered in the burgeoning land transaction scandal in the Ministry of Natural Resources. Copies of land rent statements forwarded to News Five suggest that former Cayo Northeast area representative Elvin Penner was still collecting favors from a party that had distanced itself publicly from him in the wake of the Citizen Kim passport scandal, for which he was removed from Cabinet. By the time Penner was fired in September of 2013, he had been leading for about a year and three months, since June of 2012, thirty-six point one-seven acres of land in the Mountain Pine Ridge area. The lease was to have expired in June of 2019, but the document shows zero balance for annual land rent in March of 2013 and June of 2014, leading to questions about whether the rent was being paid. But in June of 2015, a purchase price was set for the property at nine thousand four hundred dollars, or two hundred and fifty nine dollars per acre of prime property. Meanwhile, Penner’s parents also seemed to cash in. His father, Edward Penner, got nearly eleven acres of land in the Turneffe Islands at a purchase price of sixty-five thousand dollars, nine months after rent was shown to be a thousand dollars in January of 2014. In October of 2015, that price was reduced to twenty-six thousand dollars. His mother, Lena Penner, received lease for another thirty-seven point six acres of land in the Mountain Pine Ridge for annual rent of just one hundred and thirteen dollars, paid up to 2014 and cleared in 2015. In June of 2015, she purchased the property for nine thousand, seven hundred and seventy-six dollars, or two hundred and sixty dollars per acre. In the case of surveyor Dean Williams, a former U.D.P. candidate for Cayo North, he managed to flip land he obtained for ten thousand dollars to a foreigner for four hundred thousand dollars, a cool three hundred and ninety thousand dollar profit. The agreement was signed just four days before Williams got title for land he had been leasing only in 2009. An interesting document attached to the transaction papers shows that Williams authorized Eduardo Vega, brother of former Minister of Lands Gaspar Vega, to collect the first payment of a hundred and forty-four thousand dollars. Previously, there were reports that names of individuals used in these types of transactions are called where they are not the actual beneficiaries. These are all part of a multi-million dollar land deals at the Ministry of Natural Resources, which resulted in more than seventy-million dollars in compensation was paid out over the last eight years, more than sixty million of that in the last five years alone. These cases are in addition to the million dollar compensation paid by G.O.B. for land in Placencia that was originally sold for over six thousand dollars. Our calls to the Ministry of Natural Resources’ office in Belmopan went unanswered.

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1 Response for “Land for Peanuts in Pine Ridge and Turneffe”

  1. timber says:

    Yes, and it continues. I’ve been singing about this for over a year. Common practice of Vega, Godwin Hulse and Marilyn Castillo. Funny thing is that commissioner Vallejos is in it big and I heard ih di shit ih draws and di try cover ih tracks n now be friends with two people in the lands department who he suppressed and tried to push out. His ass is in trouble now. I had blogged a few months ago where a mysterious weekend work happened and no one knew who came in and files were deleted from the computer. I know you all have realized by now that all this are internal leaks and you will never know who did it because you’ve screwed over too many people. My understanding that when this latest scandals broke that maps and files somehow disappeared bit you all were too slow, Vanessa already has her hands on them. Karma will be a bitch for some of you all. All of them were in on the crooked deals. My relative said that when title was refused to Sharon Pitts she stood in that Lands office in Belmopan and berated one of those public servants and cursed them out with vulgarity. She still got it done though.

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