No underhand deal for Movietowne’s entry to Guyana- Chin

Last Updated on Monday, 20 March 2023, 17:51 by Denis Chabrol

Owner of Movietowne , Derek Chin.

The owner of Movietowne, Derek Chin said despite having been encouraged by then President Bharrat Jagdeo to set up a branch in Guyana and sold 10 acres of government-owned land, there was no corruption to enable his US$50 million investment in the mall at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.

He also praised then Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and then Head of the Privatisation Unit/ National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) for facilitating the transaction including the provision of the deed. “They were really nice to make things happen. There were no hiccups. There was no bacchanal. As you know, in my reputation, I have never been involved in any bacchanal in my 45 years of doing business in a really tough area. But we are tested. I have to live with myself,” Mr Chin told a fourth anniversary reception on Sunday.

After the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration lost power in 2015, Mr Brassington and Dr Singh had been charged with misconduct in public office in connection with the sale of lands at Liliendaal to Movietowne and Russian Aluminium (RUSAL) boss Oleg Deripaska. After the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) lost the 2020 elections, the charges against Mr Brassington and Dr Singh were withdrawn. Records show that Movietowne paid GY$200 million for the 10-acre plot.

Mr Chin praised Mr Jagdeo for encouraging him to construct a Movietowne Mall as far back as 2003 when he had dined at one of the Movietowne branches in Trinidad. The Guyana-born Chin, who migrated to Trinidad in the 1960s, said Mr Jagdeo had promised to provide the land on condition that he would have built a mall in Guyana. “He really showed his insistence. He is a man who saw what something like this could do for Guyana,” he said.

The Caribbean investor stopped short of criticising those who were responsible for  charging Mr Brassington and Dr Singh, indicating that they played major roles in facilitating a multi-million US dollar investment in Guyana. “They were put in a lot of embarrassing positions I heard but I didn’t know them before  and lo and behold I want the whole of Guyana to understand that these guys should have got a medal; not anything else. A medal because they took a very small cost from the government side  and attracted $50 million US from us. That’s what you need people to do- attract investment , get people to come with confidence,” he said.

The reception was held to honour Mr Jagdeo for his pivotal role in making Movietowne a reality in Guyana. Though the Vice President did not attend the event, Mr Chin credited him for realising the investment.  “At the last opening which was under the  other administration, I was not able to express myself to where he is given what is due because I didn’t know how to say it in front of the other side crowd. Here , I have an opportunity to say ‘Thank You Mr Jagdeo’  for your resolution and for helping me and my team to make this investment

Mr Chin said the tenancy at the Liliendaal-based mall is expected to soon surpass 85 percent occupancy, and hinted that leading coffee and donut franchises are expected to set up shop there.