Alliance For Change (AFC) Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan has supported the reinstatement of party member, Sherod Duncan at the Guyana Chronicle, even though an audit found that he is guilty of several breaches of financial regulations, including spending large sums of money without approval.
“I think he should have been reinstated a long time ago,” Ramjattan told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.
Ramjattan is the second top AFC official to have supported the move by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo -a party executive – to overturn a decision of the Board of Directors to dismiss Sherod Duncan.
During Duncan’s period as General Manager of the newspaper company, according to an independent audit, there were some 20 breaches of financial regulations.
In one instance, Duncan took an overseas trip costing over $700,000 even though there is no documented approval for such an event and to date, documents were not brought forward to support these expenditures.
As such the Board of Directors, by majority vote, decided to terminate his services. This was after he was allowed a hearing in the presence of his lawyer.
But Ramjattan believes the penalty was too extreme.
“I rather suspect that that decision to terminate for expenditures of a CEO were too extreme a position,” the AFC Chairman said.
He added: “I have a distinct disagreement with the former Chairman, I think she has resigned now. [She said she] acted properly, I do not believe so.”
Following Nagamootoo’s move to overturn the Board’s decision, the Chairperson Geeta Chandan-Edmond and three Board members have resigned.
AFC Leader Raphael Trotman is on record defending Nagamootoo’s decision to overturn the decision of the Board. “I did personally feel that the process with Mr Duncan could’ve gone or should have gone another way… I had seen the audit reports quite frankly and I thought that while there may have been some breaches, they were not breaches, in terms of theft of monies. There might’ve been some circumvention of some systems and I thought Mr Duncan being off the job for several months, perhaps a reprimand or some form of discipline (could’ve been taken). I found that dismissal was the harsher side of the penalties,” Trotman had stated.
But Duncan’s return has caused some uneasiness among staff at the Guyana Chronicle newspaper, prompting them to submit a petition to President David Granger for help.
In the petition, which was submitted on Monday, the workers described Duncan as a bully, and pointed to instances where he has unilaterally and unnecessarily hired external persons to do the jobs persons already working with the company.