Alleged GuyOil fuel racket: Finance Minister says perpetrators will face “condign action” if probe unearths corruption

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Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance Dr Ashni Singh

Senior Minister in the Office of the President, with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh says the Government will take “condign action” if an Auditor General probe unearths any irregularity at the Guyana Oil Company Limited (GuyOil).

“We have absolutely no tolerance in this Government for any corrupt practices, and we would, of course, be guided by the results of the audit,” Dr. Singh said, according to a DPI report.

The Minister had requested an urgent audit after meeting the GuyOil Board of Directors to seek clarity on hearing news of a “scandal” there.

Media reports have said Aaron Realty Incorporated (ARI) claimed it is left with a large quantity of fuel on hand after senior GuyOil officials allegedly made commitments to purchase the fuel. Though the dealer reportedly claims to have evidence, the Finance Minister said GuyOil executives have told him otherwise.

“The Board repeatedly emphasised that there is no contract with the company in question, and that while there may have been by some parties connected to the company, or some officials connected to the company, there might have been some communication with the company, that there was no contract concluded with the company at any point in time. The Board made that very clear to me,” Dr. Singh said.

Despite these assurances, the Minister said he requested a special audit of the operations. Additionally, the police was called in to investigate the allegations and have since questioned several GuyOil officials including one who was implicated in the alleged racket by now former GuyOil General Manager, Trevor Bassoo.

Bassoo has since tendered his resignation to the Board and an interim sub-committee appointed to manage the company’s operations.

In a statement on Friday, Bassoo clarified that his April 19 resignation had nothing to do with the fuel controversy but was as a result of “the recent work environment”.

Reports had emerged on Tuesday this week that businessman Jason Aaron of Aaron’s Realty alleged officials at GuyOil contracted him to bring in fuel. The businessman alleged, however, that GuyOil got a “sweeter” deal and subsequently cancelled the arrangement, causing him to speak out.

But GuyOil’s Chairman, Paul Cheong, has denied these claims, saying that ARI was never contracted to bring in fuel for the state-run entity.