Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo says there should be a full investigation into the unauthorised engagement between ExxonMobil and a staff of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The Guyana Revenue Authority, Guyana’s main tax regulator, recommended that the audit which identifies US$214 million in questionable spending by ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary from 1999 to 2017 be finalised.
But it has now come to light that staff from the Natural Resources Ministry engaged the company on that spending. The company, according to Jagdeo, provided additional documentation that US$214 million was spent and the questionable sum was brought down to about US$11 million and later, US$3 million.
That engagement was not authorised as the government wanted the technical body, the GRA, to deal with the audit. Jagdeo said the government is now addressing the issue.
“We believe there should be a full investigation but we have not completed the audit, the ministry has to now write Exxon.
“… I believe also that we have to have a policy where people, at the technical level particularly, who engage with the oil and gas companies and executives, that they must seek the explicit clearance from the ministry and they must report back on the nature of every engagement,” Dr. Jagdeo said.
That policy, the Vice President explained, would be like a disclosure policy. He intends to propose it to the cabinet.
The audit under review dealt with ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary’s spending from 1999 to 2017. This audit is the first ever one conducted on cost claims by ExxonMobil Guyana Limited, previously known as Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), for the pre-production period
Though the government is now finalising the audit and the US$214 million claims based on the GRA’s advice, Jagdeo doesn’t believe that the unauthorised engagement would influence any move to arbitration so Guyana can get back any money it is owed.