No progress has been made as the search continues for the “missing” US$5 million for the sale of the 20 per cent shares in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) in 2012.
During the recent broadcast of his weekly television podcast ‘The Public Interest’, President David Granger indicated that the matter is currently at a standstill.
He disclosed that there are no leads on where to locate the money, who could be responsible for its disappearance, or have knowledge of its whereabouts.
“We have not located the money and we have not identified any person who could be regarded as culpable,” the Head of State stated.
Nonetheless, President Granger said the search will continue, given that US$5 million is a significant amount of money.
The National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) disposed of its 20 per cent shares in the sale to Hong Kong Golden Telecom Company Limited (HKGT) to the tune of US$30 million.
The Company made a down payment of US$25 million and the outstanding US$5 million was to be paid on October 22, 2014 but it never did despite several written requests by NICIL.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon and NICIL Legal Counsel Natalia Seepersaud subsequently had travelled to China with the intention of collecting the money but were informed that the money was already paid.
Government spokesperson Raphael Trotman had announced that Harmon has been able to retrieve some documents which show that the monies were paid.
In light of the controversy this revelation sparked, NICIL released a statement rejecting the Government’s assertions.
While pointing out that the information is yet to be authenticated, NICIL claimed that Guyana’s former Ambassador to China David Dabydeen facilitated a US$5 million debt waiver with the Chinese Company on the grounds that it was not granted the same minority protection rights enjoyed by NICIL (that is, two, instead of one, representatives on the GT&T Board of Directors). NICIL conceded that no payment of the outstanding US$5 million was ever received from the Chinese Company.
But former President Donald Ramotar contended that there was no side deal debt write-off.
“I am saying explicitly that there was no such agreement or transaction… It is absolutely untrue… It is not a question of whether or not I am aware of such an agreement, I am telling you that there was no such arrangement to write-off those monies,” he firmly posited.