The claims of an excess of $200B being stolen per year during a period of the People’s Progressive Party’s tenure in office is a “blatant lie.”
This is according to Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo who was at the time responding to an article published in the state owned Department of Public Information (DPI), where the State Assets Recovery Agency’s (SARA) Chief Executive Officer, Aubrey Heath-Retemyer is recorded saying that the SARA is working tirelessly with the Ministry of Legal Affairs to retrieve over $200B in state assets lost through corruption between 2010 to 2014.
“We have been losing between $28B and $35B every year between 2010 and 2014 by procurement fraud, in illicit capital flights-$90 billion and in the underground economy (drugs) – about $100 billion,” the SARA Chief said.
However, Jagdeo, during his weekly press conference at his office on Wednesday, said that this allegation was initially made by “Anand Goolsarran, then it found its way into the APNU manifesto.”
The Opposition Leader, in maintaining that this disclosure is false, pleaded with media entities to allow Goolsarran the space to explain himself.
“Please allow Goolsarran to explain how $28-35B was stolen per year between 2010 to 2014 by procurement fraud…I don’t know if I can make the request through the reporters here. Can you please ask your editors or publishers to give him two pages, to explain, even one page. This is a blatant lie…He would have to go to which projects. You can’t say that. You’d have to say x project we lost a billion on….he has no details. Absolutely nothing. It’s a figment of his imagination,” the PPP General Secretary asserted.
Further, Jagdeo, who is a former president, posited that if the allegation had any merit, then he is certain the SARA would have had someone charged by now.
“…imagine by now, somebody needs to ask Retemyer…if so much money was stolen why is it is that you can’t charge someone up to now for $1M of the $35B that was stolen per year…They’re working on people’s minds. This is how APNU works.”
Earlier this year, the Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Texiera had also questioned SARA Director, Professor Clive Thomas about the allegations that $28-35 billion was lost each year in procurement fraud and another $306-313 billion per year being lost due to corruption under successive PPP/C Administrations.
“Strange to say, these are the same figures you used prior to the 2015 elections. Are you, sir, the complainant? And where is your evidence? If you declared such losses were real and then used your position in the SARU/SARA without evidence and mere mathematical speculation, then this is a case of reckless irresponsibility of enormous proportions,” Teixeira had posited.
She further noted that such disinformation fed to the Guyanese electorate for several years leading up to the 2015 elections as well as friendly Governments and international organisations has been clearly exposed as a “concerted political campaign to get the PPP/C out of office”.
In addition, PPP Executive Member, Anil Nandlall has also been recorded in the media saying that the SARA is peddling “fiction” in this regard.
“ It must be a psychotic and psychological disorder of some kind when persons start to believe their own fabrications. They become delusional,” Nandlall had said, while further questioning “Are these forensic auditors so incompetent? Neither did they explain how such magnitude of corruption could have escaped the Auditor General’s annual report as well as, the Public Accounts Committee, always chaired by the PNC/APNU, from 1992 to 2015. Was the PNC/APNU, so inept? Or were they complicit?”