New date set for $US18M oil bonus case

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A new date has been set for the court case against Government’s decision to deposit the US$18M signing bonus received from ExxonMobil into a private account. The decision was challenged by Member of Parliament, Anil Nandlall.

Nandlall was represented in the High Court by attorneys Rajendra Jaigobin and Manooj Narine at today’s hearing before acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire in her chambers.

Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall

Due to the Attorney General’s Chambers failure to file their affidavit in defense on time, an application for an extension was submitted.

That application was heard today and was granted by the acting Chief Justice who has extended the time to March 20 to permit them to file same.

The acting Chief Justice also gave timelines for the parties to file the requisite documents. Nandlall has to file an affidavit in reply on or before March 26.

Thereafter, the applicant has to file the submissions before April 20 and the respondents have to file their submissions before May 11. The matter has therefore been adjourned to June 14 for hearing or ruling.

The existence of the oil bonus and the renegotiated oil agreement with the company was kept a secret until evidence of the transaction was leaked in December 2017.

After mounting criticism, President David Granger defended the transaction by saying it was the thing to do at the time.

Government subsequently defended its move not to deposit the singing bonus into the Consolidated Fund by saying that it was holding the money to pay legal fees for Guyana should it have to take its border case with Venezuela to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Nandlall is contending however, that the $US18M deposited into an account established by the Minister of Finance within the Bank of Guyana and kept there without depositing same into the Consolidated Fund is in “breach of and contrary to, the letter and spirit of Article 216 of the Constitution of the Republic of Guyana and Section 38 (1) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act, Chapter 73:02.”

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