Family responds to report of diplomat who died while owing money to State

Dr Odeen Ishmael

The family of the late Guyanese ambassador, Dr. Odeen Ishmael, has responded to a report “Diplomat dies owing State millions, Govt urged to recover monies.”

The family, in a statement issued on Monday, contended that “no one has made an allegation that these advances were unaccounted for by Dr. Ishmael’s work-related travel or that Dr. Ishmael otherwise failed to justify these advanced monies with supporting travel documentation and receipts.”

“In fact, based on our knowledge of Dr. Ishmael’s practices, he was meticulous about supporting his work travel expenses with documentation required by the Ministry. As such, we would expect that all such supporting documentation would be in the records of the Guyana Embassy in Kuwait or Caracas, if not within the records of the Ministry itself,” the family added.

The statement went on to remind that Dr. Ishmael served Guyana loyally from 1993 through 2014, when he retired from the foreign service due to his failing health.

“Notably, Dr. Ishmael retired in 2014 and the article focuses on an Auditor General Report from 2016, two years after his retirement. No one from the Government of Guyana has contacted the family about this issue or otherwise made them aware of this issue prior to the publication of the iNews Guyana article…,” the family explained.

It was reported that officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs came up before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday, where they were questioned over a number of discrepancies uncovered in the Auditor General’s 2016 report.

Among of those discrepancies was an issue of 26 advances totaling $11.5 million which were never paid back to the Ministry.

As of 2019, 10 advances totaling US$14,310 remained outstanding, while 16 advances were cleared.

It was explained that the outstanding advances were incurred by one diplomat, Guyana’s former Ambassador to Kuwait Dr Ishmael who passed away in 2019.

Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Minister Elizabeth Harper told the PAC that the Ministry is considering writing off the remainder.

However, PAC member Juan Edghill objected, noting that there are ways of recovering monies from a deceased public servant who died owing the State.