“…if the Opposition allows Brassington to continue this lawlessness then we as a country must stop the pretence that we have financial laws and cease speaking ever again of accountability,” – Chris Ram
Winston Brassington’s disregard for the public revenues of the country and the cavalier manner in which he went about it, should not go without strong sanction.
This is the firm view held by Financial Analyst, Christopher Ram, in his latest analysis of the structure of the Berbice Bridge Company Inc. (BBCI) and the role played by Brassington.
According to Ram, whose complete analysis appears on his website chrisram.net, “It is clearly overdue that Brassington should be summoned before the relevant authorities to answer for his flagrant disregard of the law.”
The National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL), which is headed by Brassington, owns 70 per cent of the shares in the Berbice Bridge but to date has waived more than half a billion dollars in dividends.
Ram has since demanded that the Bridge Company must be made to pay the accumulated dividend of more than half a billion dollars payable to the Government.
He said that this must be done “since neither Brassington, nor indeed no one else, has any authority to waive those dividends.”
Ram in his latest writings on the Berbice Bridge fiasco said that Brassington’s creative financial exploits have been on full display during the parliamentary recess and as such, when it resumes, “it is incumbent on the parliamentary opposition to act to protect the public revenues of the country.”
Ram suggested that “If it (Opposition) allows Brassington to continue this lawlessness then we as a country must stop the pretence that we have financial laws and cease speaking ever again of accountability.”
He said that “the financing structure for the Bridge Company is one of Brassington’s works of art. Even before the Bridge was built, many persons had challenged his projections as being far too optimistic….It took no more than a few short years before it became reality that notwithstanding the most generous menu of tax concessions granted to any entity before Atlantic Hotel Inc., and the several hundreds of millions spent by the government to make the project work, the financial structure of the Bridge Company was weak.”
Govt. stands to lose
“My fear is that not only will every effort be made by Brassington to have the country continue to give up its entitlement to preference dividends of $104 million annually but that the Government may lose most, if not all of the $950M invested in preference shares.”
He said too that the NIS also stands to lose out on its $80M in equity and possibly some portion of the approximately $1.5B in its loan investment in the company.”
“Interestingly, this type of financial arrangement is not dissimilar from the model Brassington proposes for the Atlantic Hotel Inc., the multi-billion dollar Government Company of which he is the sole Director.”
Ram said that with its high borrowings, the danger of lacking available cash for the Bridge Company, are never too far from the surface.
He said that according to the 2010 financial statements, corporate bonds totaling some $3.5B and owed by the bridge, will become payable this year, while a second tranche of $2.5B will be payable in 2017.
This report was submitted by Brassington.
Ram said however, that the 2011 financial statements, also submitted by Brassington, “tell something completely different.”
According to Ram, the 2011 statement speaks of the first tranche of payments being June 30, 2014 and will be repaid in 10 semi-annual installments, starting next year.
With respect to the second tranche of repayment, Ram said that the 2011 statement, now speaks of a revised date of 2018 and that the repayment will now be in eight semi-annual equal installments commencing in 2018 and concluding in 2021.
According to Ram, even if one was to take the 2011 statement as accurate, then the company would have up to next year to find at least $610M to make payments on the first tranche of the corporate bonds, as well as find another $100M to repay other loans which will become repayable at that time.
He said “if the company is unable to meet those obligations, it would find itself facing what is called cash-flow insolvency.”
This essentially means that come next year, the Berbice Bridge Company could very well be unable to make its payments.
Jagdeo failed to deliver on promises
According to Ram, “despite all the concessions, waivers and a monopoly that excludes pedestrians and cyclists from crossing the Bridge, and, despite the highest known toll charges in the world, the company continues to face financial challenges.”
Ram said that the Bridge has spectacularly failed to deliver the promises made by former President Bharrat Jagdeo and Brassington, about reasonable tolls, profitability and the payment of preference dividends annually.
He said that at present, the waiver of the dividends gives the bridge the pretext of it being viable.
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