NCN investigation report leaked…“If criminal charges are not laid against Sattaur and Goolsarran, then Ramotar supports corruption” – Ramjattan
The Alliance For Change (AFC) is calling for a full blown inquiry into the entire operations of the National Communications Network (NCN) after a damning report that was leaked to a Parliamentarian spoke clearly of collusion by two senior staffers to milk that state-owned entity.
According to AFC’s Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, the report which was ordered by NCN’s Board of Directors, is a clear indication also that the government is insisting on doing nothing about corruption.
Ramjattan, a lawyer by profession, said that the report is clearly being buried by the ruling party because of revelations. AFC and the media have both been demanding the release of the report which was prepared by accountant, Harry Parmesar. But government has not budged.
The NCN investigation was sparked after revelations in Parliament that the entity, which controls the country’s only authorized radio stations and has a network of television stations across the land, last year raked in more than $500M in revenue, yet wanted government subsidies to the tune of millions.
Following complaints, the board had ordered a probe into reports that all was not right with payments from GT&T following last year’s hugely popular Jingle and Song Competition.
GT&T had hired NCN to tape the show but the state entity decided in turn to sub-contract the work to Hits and Jams Production.
The investigations found that NCN’s Programme Manager, Martin Goolsarran, was paid more than $3M in cheques from GT&T which he deposited to his own personal bank account. He has been suspended for eight weeks while NCN’s Chief Executive Officer, Mohamed “Fuzzy” Sattaur has since resigned.
The matter had spilled over to GT&T where Yog Mahadeo, the CEO, stepped down after it was found that several breaches were made in that company’s accounting systems, including to make unauthorized payments to Goolsarran, in his name, instead of NCN.
A number of other high-ranking GT&T employees including its Chief Financial Officer were also sent home.
According to Ramjattan yesterday, the report made it clear that there is enough evidence that both Goolsarran and Sattaur were using NCN’s equipment and time to do work for the entity.
“In my opinion there should be an all out investigation at NCN and the report from Mr. Parmesar sent to the police and the entire matter should be handed over to the DPP. There is enough evidence to charge both men.”
According to the AFC Leader, the contents of the report clearly justify the decision of the AFC and APNU to block approval of over $65M requested by government in Parliament recently.
“If criminal charges are not laid against Sattaur and Goolsarran, then Ramotar supports
corruption,” Ramjattan said.
The senior ranking AFC official explained that in the past, government had asked for monies to buy critical equipment for NCN yet this “Parmessar” report, recently released to President Donald Ramotar, found that 41 cameras out of a total of 51 could not be accounted for.
The Auditor General in his report of 2010 also discovered evidence that the Assets Register of NCN was poorly maintained.
The Parliamentarian indicated that this ought to ring alarm bells to the Auditor General who should have immediately carried out a wider and deeper probe into the people’s assets and their whereabouts, rather than merely a qualified opinion.
“So it is clear that our decision to block the monies in Parliament was fully justified. No further money in these circumstances will be released to NCN and we will continue to block payments until we are satisfied that there are reforms there.”
The AFC Leader said that it is strange that the Board of Directors and its Chairman and the internal auditors were not aware of what transpired.
“They ought to have known, being in that oversight position. Further the President who has gotten the report and merely suspends the Programme Manager and accepts the resignation of the CEO, while not also making the report public must be seen as supporting corruption in a state entity. It is merely giving a slap on the wrist to delinquents rather than the full brunt of the law which is what ensures deterrence of corruption.”
According to Ramjattan, “the occurrences at NCN are a classical example of how the people’s money is abused and hived off.”