Fraudulent ‘Guyana registered’ vessel: AG slams Opposition for “unpatriotic” position

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall SC has called out the APNU/AFC Opposition over its unpatriotic position regarding the vessel that was seized at a port in Senegal bearing the Flag of Guyana and carrying three containers of ammunition worth US$5 million.

Following international reports of the seizure, both the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the Government of Guyana last week clarified that the vessel is not registered in here.

It was explained that MARAD had entered into an arrangement early last year with a private company, International Maritime Safety Agency of Guyana (IMSAG), but this was scrapped shortly after in August 2021 after instances of “fraudulent representations and illicit conduct” were found. Hence, the company was no longer authorize to license on behalf of Guyana or authorize them to use the Guyana Flag.

However, the APNU/AFC Opposition has dismissed the explanation given by government, saying the administration is lying to citizens.

But according to Minister Nandlall, the Coalition Opposition is using this issue as a political football.

“These people are not representing the Government of Guyana. They are purporting to represent the State of Guyana, and here is where a responsible Opposition – rather than playing cheap and nasty politics and propagandise, what is a serious international issue – they are kicking it around like a political football, blaming the government,” Nandlall posited during the latest episode of his weekly programme – Issues in the News.

The Legal Affairs Minister went onto remind that it was a MARAD deal and not the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) arrangement.

“[MARD] is a Department of State; they entered into a contract and when the government learned of it, they were advised to terminate it and they did. But this is a crime, a wrong that was committed against Guyana, and all responsible Guyanese and certainly, leaders, politicians, Members of Parliament should be standing on one ground and saying with one voice that we condemn this. Instead, this grouping is so obsessed with making us look bad and making the government look bad… You see the myopic and insular, unpatriotic position that these so-called leaders are taking when Guyana is under attack. They see it fit and proper to score political points on what is a national issue,” Nandlall declared

Nevertheless, the Attorney General further outlined that PPP/C government is continuing to pursue efforts to ensure that the rogue company, which apparently continued to registered vessels on behalf of the Guyana government, is sanctioned.

The Guyana Police Force had previously reported that it has reached out to INTERPOL to assist with the investigation and also to question of one Suneil Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of IMSAG.

“This company is rogue, this company is not authoritised to do anything on behalf of Guyana, more so, to register ships or license ships… We have severed relations with this company. We have duly informed all the relevant international agencies of this development. The Guyana Police Force has been engaged and has engaged INTERPOL, and currently efforts are being made to have wanted bulletin issued for principals of this company,” AG Nandlall stated.

Only Monday last, the Government reassured that no effort would be spared to bring the “dubious” company and its owners or affiliates to justice.

“Therefore, we wish to alert all stakeholders – national, regional and international, as we have previously done, that this cabal is neither a representative of the State of the Republic of Guyana, nor the Guyana Flag,” the Government said in a statement.

It added that the fraudulent issuance of registration under the Guyana Flag is a deliberate criminal design to sully the good image of Guyana, which the Government has worked tirelessly to rebuild and maintain, and will not condone it.

“No effort will be spared to ensure that this nation continues to enjoy good relations and the highest regard with the international shipping community. We view the protection of our national interest as sacrosanct, and therefore, our Government is taking all necessary steps to ensure this rogue enterprise led by a Captain Suniel Kumar, and those associated, are appropriately dealt with in accordance with the law,” the Government missive detailed.

The motor vessel, named EOLIKA, has been detained in Dakar, Senegal, and the crew has been arrested after a search by Customs officials there unearthed a number of illegal arms and ammunition.

The Guyana Police Force launched an investigation on Thursday last, during which officials of the MARAD confirmed that the vessel was not registered by any competent authority in Guyana.