[www.inewsguyana.com] – Labour Minister Dr. Nanda Gopaul had rushed to the defense of his government colleagues, including former President Bharrat Jagdeo in the New Building Society (NBS) 2006 fraud and subsequent alleged victimization.
In a statement issued today, the Minister said there seems to be a lot of spin, political and otherwise, on the Ombudsman’s report following a complaint by Maurice Arjoon, NBS’ former Chief Executive Officer, against his prosecution as a result of the fraud.
Dr. Gopaul observed that reports emanating from the media would give the impression as if senior Government functionaries, including the former President, had a hand in some form of victimization against Arjoon.
“I wish to categorically state that had there been a proper investigation done and persons who have been accused of certain wrong doings given an opportunity to be heard, it would have been revealed that all the accusations made by Mr. Arjoon are baseless,” the Minister said in his statement.
He opined that the report implicates a number of persons who were never afforded an opportunity to respond to the allegations made against them and therefore, it violates the principles of natural justice and most basic requirements of fairness and due process.
“Importantly, the learned Ombudsman does not have the mandate and jurisdiction to review the decision of a private company to dismiss its employees. The fact that the company was not even consulted simply compounds the wrong,” Dr. Gopaul added.
He said what is even worst is the fact that the Ombudsman embarked upon an inquiry to review a dismissal and to make findings when the very issue is the subject of active litigation in the High Court. To this end, the Minister says the report has been done in complete disregard of the sub-judice principle.
Legal advice is currently being sought on what actions can be taken in challenge to what Dr. Gopaul says is a “most unfortunate report.”
Gopaul says there was absolutely no acrimony over the investment in the Berbice River Bridge and that Directors of NBS had hired the services of Raymond Gaskin to advice on this matter.
Following a meeting with Gaskin and the Board of Directors at NBS, a decision was taken by the Board to invest the sum of $350 million on the Bridge.
“There was no Government pressure on anyone and I can say clearly that in as much as others felt before the decision was taken that more could have been invested, there was absolutely no bitterness or rancor amongst members,” the Minister added.
He said the dismissal of Arjoon has no relevance to the investment in the bridge project.
“Let me repeat that at no point in time was there any interference on the part of any Director to influence any decision made to either charge Mr. Arjoon criminally or to accuse Mr. Arjoon of committing fraud.”
The Minister concluded that the Board is firmly of the view that Arjoon and the other senior managers who were dismissed, were dismissed for “dereliction of duty, negligence, and serious misconduct” and supports that decision.