AFC leader’s firm on Exxon’s payroll benefits company – Jagdeo

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Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo on Tuesday contended that ExxonMobil would have no problem with a political leader’s firm on their payroll because they stand to benefit from that relationship.

“Why would you(ExxonMobil)want to get rid of the leader of a political party in Parliament who is on your payroll, who has publicly stated that he will put Exxon’s interest above that of Guyana?” Jagdeo said in a comment provided to the News Room.

The Vice President’s comments came hours after ExxonMobil Guyana’s President Alistair Routledge denied concerns about a potential conflict of interest with newly-elected Alliance For Change (AFC) leader, Nigel Hughes whose law firm, Hughes, Fields and Stoby – represents the oil company.

Asked directly about that potential conflict of interest, Routledge earlier Tuesday told reporters that the company complies with all laws and regulations.

“We comply with all laws and regulations here and internationally so we don’t believe we have any conflict of interest,” Routledge said at the sidelines of an event.

Mr. Hughes disagrees that a conflict of interest exists but has said that he will cut ties with his law firm only if elected to serve in government. The lawyer also said he will not participate in any discussions or decisions on oil and gas in the AFC.

Jagdeo, who is also the General Secretary of the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), is among those who flagged the potential conflict of interest.

Jagdeo is concerned about the lawyer using his position of influence to sway business transactions or policies. He pointed out that Mr. Hughes is now leader of a political party which has members in Parliament.

The Vice President also commented inflated legal bills can also mask political contributions.

And with concerns mounting about this possible conflict of interest, Jagdeo said, “Exxon will hear from the Government of Guyana at the appropriate time and place on this matter.”

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