AG recommends police probe into Sussex Street bond scandal

The Sussex Street bond
The Sussex Street bond

Following a special audit into the Sussex Street bond controversy, the Audit Office of Guyana has found that there were clear breaches of the Procurement Act.

Among their recommendations is for the police to launch an investigation into the matter.

According to the report produced by Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, the contract for a medical storage bond was not advertised or publicly procured in accordance with tender board procedures and the Procurement Act of 2003.

The then Ministry of Public Health had always claimed that they rented the bond from Linden Holdings Inc. because it was needed on an emergency basis. However, the Audit Office found that despite $25 Million being paid for the first two months the bond was rented, the bond was not used until after three months.

There is also uncertainty about the date the contract actually ended. The contract was supposed to last from June 1, 2016 to until June 30, 2019.

In accordance with the need for a one-year notice, the then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health had sent an initial Notice of Quit letter dated October 31, 2016, informing Linden Holdings of the intention to vacate the premises by November 1, 2017.

Larry Singh

“However, examination of this letter revealed that it was unsigned and issued without the official letterhead of the Ministry. Evidence was seen whereby someone would have signed a Document Transmission Slip on 8 November 2016 receiving the Notice to Quit,” the AG said.

Further, Linden Holdings Inc., which is owned by Larry Singh, has always contended that because of the lack of official letterhead or stamp, the Notice to quit is not valid. This was cited by Singh’s lawyers back in October 2017, as well as what they believe is a lack of “due cause”.

Auditor General, Deodat Sharma

In a letter from his lawyers, Singh had maintained that the agreement continued for its fixed three years term until June 2019, in which case the government would still have $137.5 Million outstanding for him.

As such in his recommendations, the Auditor General urged that the Ministry of Legal Affairs be engaged “with intentions of bringing closure to this matter and if necessary appropriate disciplinary action should be taken against any culpable officer(s)” and that “the Guyana Police Force be called in to conduct an in-depth investigation and institute charges where necessary.”