Chicken Scam: “I never received no money” – suspended GRA manager denies corruption allegations

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Troy Vanooteen
Troy Vanooteen

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Suspended acting Head of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Law Enforcement Division, Troy Vanooteen is denying allegations of being corrupt and accepting bribe monies.

Vanooteen was recently suspended from GRA and two junior officers fired after it was revealed that they were allegedly involved in a corrupt transaction.

However, in a release to the media on Monday, December 07, the man maintained his innocence and said that the trumped-up internal allegations against him is mainly because that he has ruffled feathers within the government’s lone tax collecting agency regarding corrupt practices.

“I am a no nonsense person. You would have heard before about all of the corrupt activities that go on within the GRA. In my capacity of enforcement officer any time individuals try to do corrupt things, I stamp it out immediately once brought to my attention. I have served the GRA with distinction. People on the road and even within GRA feel threaten by my presence in law enforcement,” a candid Vannooten explained.

Vannooten is adamant that he never took a bribe regarding the incident where a truck of chicken that had originated from Suriname was confiscated by law enforcement personnel back in September 2015.

“In a suspension missive communicated to Vannooten, the Human Resources Manager cited that he breached the GRA code of conduct, offence #16 which states ‘failure to obey known rules and codes of conduct, conflict of Interest and post-employment codes,” the release stated.

He said that he acted within the rules and regulations of the authority regarding the detention of a Bedford Suriname lorry which had contained some 400 boxes of foreign chicken that had an aggregate street value of some $2.8 million and at all time his superiors were updated.

“The information received from the police was that they have held this truck and would like to hand it over to GRA custody since the goods are perishable. I then instructed the head of enforcement for region six Omadat Persaud to get a team of officers and proceed to the location. At the same time I made contact with about three officers from Georgetown and we went up the Corentyne.”

According to him, at that time there were already two GRA staffers who were found in a car in proximity of the lorry, and they were in the presence of another man who apparently was the owner of the goods. These two officers were scheduled to travel to the interior the morning, however they were carrying out an unsanctioned exercise in region six. They have since been fired by the GRA.

Vannooten, who has worked at the authority for more than a twelve years, said that when he informed his immediate line manager about the findings of his investigation and the planned course of action, his boss was not pleased.

“We had a debate about the report I complied which lasted for about two days. He told me that he wasn’t going to sign the Memo because of its content and I said to him that, what I had compiled was detailed enough to carry out a full investigation into the matter. I later sent the document to the CG and copied him,” the release noted.

It was stated too that Vannooten’s report recommended that the two officers initially found at the scene should be suspended since they were culpable of malfeasance. He said what is shocking is that the suspension letter he received is vague and did not explained his wrongdoings in investigating the seizure of the illegal chicken.

He said he has written to the Chairman of the Board, Rawle Lucas to have the Board review the circumstances leading up to his suspension and also into departmental corruption.

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