BY ALEXIS RODNEY
Embattled former Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) Aeshawar Deonarine has finally broken his silence on what he said were moves by Government to smear his character when allegations of fraud and misappropriation were brought against him.
Back in July 2015, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson said revelations of a forensic audit carried out at the time had shown that officials of GPL, including Deonarine, had been siphoning off funds into their personal accounts from the PetroCaribe Fund.
Deonarine was immediately sent on administrative leave. The former DCEO was very dormant over the ensuing months, but came out Friday, seeking to defend himself.
In comments to Guyana Times Deonarine said over those months, he was “disinclined to address personal matters in the media, but the continuous imprudent statements being peddled by supposedly intelligent people leave me no choice but to break my silence and pen some facts that would hopefully enlighten those who wish to disparage my character”.
He said he would be “careful” since the issues that have attracted so much attention are before the courts.
According to Deonarine, the allegations by Patterson were new to him, in fact he was probably the last to get to know about the claims. He however said those accusations are false.
According to Deonarine, he never had access to the PetroCaribe funds and that funds the power company borrowed from PetroCaribe were paid by the Ministry of Finance to GPL’s suppliers.
As to claims that his request for remuneration increase was not approved, the former DCEO said his request was in fact approved by the Board, the sole body with such authority.
“In accordance with company policy and procedures, all payments must be approved by a competent authority. Further, all payment instructions to any of GPL’s commercial banks must be signed by two Board-authorised signatories, one of whom must be a Board member and the other an executive manager. I have written evidence to support these claims” Deonarine said.
“A logical question you may ask is why I took so long to provide my responses. There are two reasons: First, I do not think that the media is the appropriate forum to deal with matter of this nature. Secondly, I really believed that the Minister would have given me the opportunity to be heard.
In my opinion, an inquiry should have been held and I should have been afforded an opportunity to be heard. If this were done, I am positive that this matter would have never become an issue. Unfortunately, numerous attempts to have a hearing on the allegations have been in vain”.
He said he was not being given a hearing and with the upsurge in violent post-election crimes, and fearing for his family’s safety, he departed Guyana in August 2015 without any objection from anybody.
“I left instructions with my lawyer to take certain actions and to act as a liaison between me and an appropriate Government official, in the event that someone changed his or her mind and decided to give me a fair hearing”, he said.
The former DCEO said the first action his lawyer initiated saw him submitting a sworn affidavit in the High Court, which has his full overseas address.
“The affidavit was served on Minister Patterson, who is represented in Court by the office of the Attorney General. Several hearings have already been called. (This matter is still ongoing, so I shall not make any comments.)”, he said.
He said it is puzzling, to now learn that the police do not know where he is. “Surely, one of the pieces of evidence they sought to have obtained would have been a copy of my affidavit, which has my full address? Surely, they could have contacted my lawyer, who would have informed them that he was my legal representative and would be available to answer any questions they have. My lawyer was never contacted and was not even officially informed that I was being charged”.
Deonarine said he was earlier this year required to undergo an emergency operation which was followed by hospitalisation. “I am recovering slowly but surely. Make no mistake; I have every intention of defending myself. I am one hundred per cent certain that I would be vindicated by the Court. Actually, I am thrilled that, finally, I am getting a hearing”.
Deonarine is facing charges which alleged that on May 7 and 8, 2015, he conspired to commit simple larceny of the sum of $27,757,547, property of GPL.
Deonarine was sent on administrative leave after he allegedly transferred some $27.8 million to his personal account. He was also accused of paying board member Carvil Duncan a sum of $948,000 that was not authorised.
Duncan appeared in Court on January 26 last where he answered to that charge. Deonarine was not present in court. An issue for his arrest was later sent out.
After coming into office in May last year, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration found that close to $142 million of the PetroCaribe Fund was plugged into the operations of the State-owned GPL. This was realised after Government said it had found an empty PetroCaribe Fund when it took office and later launched an investigation. (Reprinted from Guyana Times)