The $60M question! - Lawyers demand title after paying $140m for property nearly a year ago
Five years after former government minister Dr Neville Gallimore started proceedings for the purchase of a property at the corner of Marcus Garvey Drive and Industrial Terrace, and 10 months after making the final payments of $142 million, he is yet to receive the title for the property from the Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ).
Sunday Gleaner sources say this is no fault of the FCJ, nor is it Gallimore's, as the state agency is yet to collect $60 million of the total sum which has reportedly been paid.
Now armed with evidence of the payments, Gallimore's attorneys, Grayson & Company, are demanding the title.
That demand from the law firm was made last week after it provided proof that the entire purchase price - including 16 cents which was inadvertently left off the final cheque - had been paid.
The saga started on July 26, 2010, when the then Bruce Golding-led Cabinet approved the sale of the property which houses a company operated by Gallimore and his family, Universal Freight.
At that time, the law firm Brady & Company, with its principal Harold Brady, was the attorney on record for the FCJ.
But even before Cabinet gave its nod to the deal, a May 2010 sales agreement was completed and a deposit of $21 million paid to Brady & Company, which was representing the FCJ.
Over the next nine months, the matter remained in limbo until February 2011, when Gallimore's lawyer wrote to Brady & Company advising of their client's willingness to make an immediate payment of $100 million, upon which they would take possession of the property, on the understanding that there would be no interest payable on the outstanding balance of $19 million.
That $19 million would be payable when the title was transferred into Gallimore's name, or the name of his nominee.
By February 23, 2011, the $100 million was paid by way of a manager's cheque to Brady & Company, which responded on the same day acknowledging receipt.
It would take some three years after that payment, April 2014, for Brady & Company to write to Gallimore's lawyers enclosing a copy of a duplicate certificate of title to be registered in his name, but indicated that there were encroachments which had to be corrected.
At that time, Gallimore's lawyers were told that there was an outstanding balance of $21.5 million to close the deal with a "notice to complete, making time of the essence", and requesting a banker's undertaking for the outstanding sum.
The lawyers for Gallimore responded with a question about the nature of the encroachment on the property and the time frame by which it would be rectified. The lawyers also indicated that the money was in hand and would be dispatched upon 24-hour notice that the title was in their clients' name.
But with the pressure to complete the payment growing, the final amount was paid over on June 30, 2014. However, the law firm representing the FCJ did not acknowledge payment of this sum.
The matter was brought back to the front burner at the start of this month, when the FCJ's current attorneys, Scott, Bhoorasingh & Bonnick, wrote to the lawyers representing Gallimore seeking proof that the $140 million was paid for the property.
Miffed by the request and smarting that "between the period April 14 and June 30, 2014 our client was pressured continuously by Brady & Co (which wrote repeatedly) to hand over the balance to close the transaction", the lawyers noted that Gallimore "was understandably reluctant to do so in the absence of any assurance that Brady & Co was holding the duplicate certificate of title ... (and it) would be transferred in the short term".
According to Grayson & Company, now that Gallimore has fulfilled all his obligations and it has been 10 months since the final payment, they are demanding that he now be provided with the duplicate certificate of title in the name of his nominee, Jasper (Jamaica) Holdings, without any further delay.
Last week, Jasper (Jamaica) Holdings - whose directors are listed as Neville Gallimore (medical practitioner) and Edith Gallimore (attorney-at-law) - through its representative, Andrew Gallimore, refused to comment on the transaction. Andrew Gallimore told The Sunday Gleaner that while he was aware of it, he was not party to the deal.
Attorney-at-law Donna Scott-Mottley of the firm Scott, Bhoorasingh & Bonnick, which is now representing the FCJ, also refused to comment.
"I have to have instructions from my client, Factories Corporation of Jamaica, to speak to you on the matter. Without same, that would be unprofessional conduct, for which I could be reported to the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council," explained Scott-Mottley.
Chief executive of FCJ, Clive Fagan, did not respond to our requests for an interview, while sustained efforts to get a comment from Brady & Company have been unsuccessful.