By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Guyana’s Security Minister and General Secretary of the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Clement Rohee has defended President Donald Ramotar’s use of the privately owned executive jet service whose Guyanese owner was recently arrested in Puerto Rico with an undeclared sum of US$620,000 hidden in the plane.
When asked about his concern that the President travelled using the service whose owner is now being investigated for money laundering, Rohee says he sees no transgression on the part of the President or the government.
“What is wrong with the President chartering the flight? There is nothing illegal about it, they paid for it, it was in the open and the plane was in the view of everybody,” Rohee said; observing that there are some sections of the media that are trying to make an issue of it.
Rohee believes efforts to make a connection between the President use of the service, which he has admitted to, and the find is being done to cause the President and the government embarrassment.
A clearly upset Rohee urged the media to desist from besmirching the character of persons and says that calls for media censorship should be given consideration from those within.
“If persons in the media wish to invent or manufacture a story that seeks to place the administration in a bad light we will have to answer to that and that is what freedom of speech is all about,” he added.
Rohee dismissed questions regarding a compromise of the President’s Security following this disclosure along with claims that the service attracts little or no security checks from the relevant authorities at the airport.
He said this concern was never raised but failed to answer the question directly. He also failed to directly address questions relating to the principle of ‘guilty by association’.
He was reminded of accusations his Party had leveled against Opposition Leader David Granger; accusing him of “being in bed with criminals” when he was photographed with a young man who was months after killed during a robbery.
On this note, Rohee said the issue involving the find has not been fully ventilated and reiterated that he sees no transgression with the President using the plane which was later found with the large sum of undisclosed cash.
“We should wait until the United States justice system deal with the matter, it hasn’t been fully ventilated.”
The government in a statement noted that the services of Exec Jet Club Guyana which operates out of the Kaylee Service Station, East Bank Demerara, were procured on three occasions by the Government to transport delegations led by President Donald Ramotar to official State business overseas.
The statement noted that on all such occasions, payments were rendered for the charter of an aircraft operated by the Exec Jet Club, Guyana.
Upon his arrest, Lall told US Customs and Border agents that he was just stopping to refuel and that he was headed directly to Georgetown. The agents told him about the requirement to declare any cash. Lall and his father, who was also on board declared US$5, 000 and the other pilot declared US$60.