Concerns are mounting as to what really happened with the missing US$5 million for Government’s GT&T shares, as responsibility for the disclosure of a report on the findings continues to shift from person to person.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, in a brief telephone interview from New York, questioned why the report has not yet been made public, stating that “it is clear as day that either NICIL [National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited] or (Joseph) Harmon can release the findings”.
“I don’t understand why they don’t release the information,” he said, urging Government to make the disclosure quickly.
NICIL sold the Government’s shares in GT&T for US$30 million, of which US$25 million was received at the signing of the agreement. However, the outstanding money, which should have been paid by the end of December 2015, has not been found.
When the US$25 million was paid, it was made by international wire, from one bank to another. The payment into NICIL’s bank account would have been easy to trace.
Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, who spoke on Government’s behalf, had disclosed that Harmon, the Minister of State, was able to recover documents, which revealed that the monies were paid. But NICIL quickly slapped it down, stating that Guyana’s former Ambassador to China, David Dabydeen, had facilitated the US$5 million debt waiver with Datang, the Chinese company, on the grounds that it was not granted the same minority protection rights enjoyed by NICIL (that is, two, instead of one, representatives on the GT&T Board of Directors).
However, NICIL’s Chairman, Dr Maurice Odle, when contacted, pointedly refused to comment on the findings of the report, saying, “I’m not prepared to answer any questions.”
He stated that the matter was currently “in the hands of international lawyers”.
Only last week, former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran had publicly stated that the sale of shares was a case of a lack of transparency. He stated that NICIL should be pressed to come clean on the matter.