‘A diabolical act!’ Police should be called in to probe ExxonMobil bonus – Chris Ram
Chartered Accountant and political commentator, Christopher Ram says the APNU+AFC coalition government has committed a criminal offence under Section 85 of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act as it relates to receiving a signing bonus from oil giant – ExxonMobil.
“It is as clear as day to me that offences have been committed under section 85 of that Act by more than one person. This is now a criminal matter and the Guyana Police Force should be called in,” Ram said in a statement one day after the government was forced to acknowledge that it did receive a payment.
The signing bonus was first brought to the fore by Ram who alleged that the government received approximately US$20M from ExxonMobil, however, up until the Stabroek News published in its 8th December 2017 edition, a letter signed by the Finance Secretary of the Ministry of Finance to the Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Dr Gobind Ganga, requesting that a separate account be created to house the monies, the government had denied ever receiving such.
Ram, in his statement, pointed out that there are immediate and longer-term implications of this saga from which Guyana may forever suffer.
“For the immediate, it means that Article 216 of the Constitution of Guyana has been knowingly violated; that critical information contained in the Estimates of Expenditure now being considered by the National Assembly is inaccurate, incorrect and meaningless; that the 2016 financial statements of the Government and of the Consolidated Fund are for 2016 similarly deficient; that the Report of the Auditor General thereon is inapplicable and that auditing standards applied by his Office requires him to withdraw his report; that the financial statements and the auditor’s report of the Bank of Guyana for the year 2016 face the same jeopardy; and that this web of deception has ensnared high level officers of the Ministry of Finance, the Geology and Mines Commission and the Bank of Guyana, including the Chairman of its Audit Committee Mr. Anand Goolsarran.”
TROTMAN CANNOT BE TRUSTED
According to Ram, potential public revenues of the country should not be left in the control of Ministers engaged in criminal and other improper conduct.
“But this Administration has disappointingly shown that such standards of common decency, let alone integrity, do not apply to it and its Ministers. So what about the longer term? Well, in a significant transaction with ExxonMobil – with which they need to operate on an arm’s length basis – these same Ministers have shown a willingness to engage in a conspiracy of deception on the people of this country,” Ram stated.
He further noted, “Exxon has a monopoly of known and established oil production of Guyana for the foreseeable future. Those Ministers cannot be trusted to engage any person, let alone an oil giant who knows that the persons who engage and are required to oversee its conduct are compromised and that their conduct borders on corruption.”
The Chartered Accountant made it clear that Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman cannot be trusted.
“Shamelessly, Mr. Trotman, in seeking to defend his egregious pattern of lies and deception, resorts to patriotism, which Samuel Johnson so famously and aptly described more than two hundred years ago as ‘the last bastion of the scoundrel.’ Transactions in foreign currency, the award of contracts by Mr. Trotman, and the payment of money by his Ministry, suggest that Mr. Trotman cannot be trusted even with a single dollar of public funds, and made more egregious by him being a lawyer.”
Ram said that President David Granger should apologise to the Guyanese people for such a “diabolical act.”
“If President Granger wants to regain the public trust in his administration, he needs to apologise to the nation for this diabolical act by his Ministers, remedy the violations, call in the Police, and take surgical action.
“But not before mounting a public Inquiry into all aspects of the administration of the Ministry of Natural Resources, including the negotiation of contracts outside of Guyana, in Grenada and in New York; the process leading up to the signing of an unnecessary, new Petroleum Agreement with Esso Exploration and Production (Guyana) Limited; and all financial transactions in local and foreign currency.”