VP Jagdeo sues Chinese businessman SU for defamation
Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has moved to the courts to sue business Su Zhi Rong who reportedly posed as a middleman, claiming that he could secure investment deals through the Vice President.
Su’s claims were recorded without his knowledge by an undercover reporter from controversial U.S. news agency Vice.
Dr Jagdeo has vehemently denied taking any bribes for any deals Su may have negotiated. Su also later issued a statement denying the involvement of the Vice President in any corrupt transactions.
A team of high-profile attorneys are representing the Vice President, who is seeking $50 million in damages for defamation.
In a statement he issued after the Vice News report, Su stated: I, Su Zhi Rong, wish to state categorically that I have never solicited any bribe/inducement from any company or individual for either myself or any government official including the Vice President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.”
During the programme, Su is heard in Chinese, purportedly translated to say that he brokered deals in the oil sector and the construction of a hydroelectricity power plant.
But there are no Chinese projects in the oil and gas sector nor the power plant he mentioned.
Jagdeo had suggested that Su could be duping the Chinese community and using his friendship as a bartering tool. The video shown is consistent with this position in which Su was unable to offer a bribe when asked.
Jagdeo had released the full interview he did with the news team earlier this year and had admitted to knowing Su whom he described as a friend.
Later at a press conference, he said that even in that unguarded moment, VICE News failed to entangle him in any bribe-taking or corrupt act.
“VICE News came into my house to catch me doing something illegal and taking a bribe… and you couldn’t do that in my most unguarded moment.
“They have done this around the world with leaders they got taking bribes… they are never going to find anything of that nature with me,” the Vice President told the news conference.
Jagdeo said he was not conducting official government business at his home but was rather meeting with an investor of Su whom he described as a friend.
“Su did not get anything special here and it was not a government project, it was his investor he wanted me to meet.”
At the time of the interview, Su had already been approved for one of almost ten hotel projects through a transparent public system, which involved a public call for expressions of interest and a subsequent Memorandum of Understanding. It was in that context that Jagdeo was meeting with the investor. There would have been no need at this point for any specific favors from Government.
Jagdeo was convinced that Su leveraged his access to him and had said he intended to sue him for reputational damage. He has now made good on that claim.
The Vice President had indicated that suing Su was the first step he was taking against such false claims and that he would seek to prosecute anyone else who seeks to tarnish his name by repeating the claims.