Authorities ignore forged Ruth Baljit signatures
…issue radio licence to Telecor
Some Guyanese are questioning whether there are bounds to the “greed” of the politicians of the day. Recent revelations in the media have stimulated further concerns.
Guyana Media Proprietors Association (GMPA) Executive Member, Jacob Rambarran, in an invited comment, told Kaieteur News that he still cannot come to grips with the blatant and disrespectful takeover of the media landscape.
His immediate reference was to the saga unfolding around Telecor and Cultural Broadcasting Inc—the communication company that was granted a Radio Licence to operate five frequencies despite the fact that it was solely owned by an overseas-based woman.
Just days before it formally received its licence, Telecor and Cultural Broadcasting Inc. appointed four Directors.
This was done to ensure that more than 51 per cent of the voting powers on the board would be Guyanese residing in Guyana.
But even before the company satisfied this criterion, its licence was approved by the Guyana National Broadcast Authority (GNBA).
Since then the authorities have been presented with two signatures both purporting to be Ruth Baljits. One of them had to be a forgery but the authorities ignored the discrepancy in signatures when they issued the licences.
Prior to the change of directors, Ruth Baljit was the sole owner of the company—she is the sister of Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud.
Those who became directors, last June, are Daramchand Depoo, an Attorney-at-Law in Corentyne, Berbice; Kamini Persaud, Ryan Basdeo, Khemraj Narain and Michael George.
Kamini Persaud is the niece of former President Bharrat Jagdeo and the wife of Minister Robert Persaud.
Ryan Basdeo is Kamini Persaud’s brother, Bharrat Jagdeo’s nephew and also the brother-in-law of Robert Persaud. They both reside on Lamaha Street.
Khemraj Narain is Robert Persaud’s best friend and lives in Miami.
At the time, the Company Secretary for Telecor was Omkarananda Lochan who was the then Permanent Secretary in Minister Robert Persaud’s ministry.
Rambarran said that he still cannot understand how this company, with this makeup, could have been granted a licence in the first place.
He described it as a breach of fair governance on the part of Jagdeo to dish out frequencies in that manner and “ignore the rest of us…That should not have happened.”
Former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran, also weighed in on the debate and echoed similar sentiments.
He told Kaieteur News that belatedly expanding the directors for the Company does not help the situation.
The fact remains that all the directors are personally linked to former President, Bharrat Jagdeo and Minister Persaud—both of whom were in government at the time when it all started.
He said that the addition of directors basically reflects a “cosmetic cover up…It doesn’t remedy what is seen in the eyes of the public as a major wrong and misuse of resources, so they need to come better than this cosmetic cover up.”
Goolsarran said, “It is like somebody’s face is ugly, and we identify that he or she is ugly and de people just basically go and put some powder and rouge.
Goolsarran said that what is to be pointed out is the fact that “make-up” basically enhances “so when they think that they are covering up, they just showing us more.”
The former Auditor General said that the government and its cohorts have to stop “grabbing everything for themselves and deceiving people in the process.”
Telecor and Cultural Broadcasting Inc. is a company that was incorporated by Attorney-at-Law, Jaya Manickchand, in 2009.
The company was incorporated with 500,000 shares and each annual return filed to date, lists Baljit, a US citizen, as the sole shareholder.
Kaieteur News understands, too, that the company was struck off the Registrar’s Companies List for failing to file annual returns. This was denied by the company. But records show that it was restored to the Companies List in October, days before Jagdeo would have approved it for five radio frequencies.
Dharamchand Depoo, the former Company Secretary, now Director, uplifted the Licence for Baljit.
Several prominent, independent media entities including Kaieteur News, Stabroek News, CNS 6, WRHM 7, RBS 13, Capitol News, HBTV 9 and GWTV 2 were all bypassed by Jagdeo.
He approved frequencies to a number of others, but only allowed them one frequency each, thereby limiting the range to which they can broadcast. Those with multiple frequencies included the ruling party and Ramroop’s radio.
The former President has also come under criticism for granting cable television licences to two companies – E-Networks Inc. and Quark Communications Inc. Both companies have Directors and shareholders with close links to him.