Publisher of the Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall, is in possession of incontrovertible evidence of a plot by former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, and Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Khurshid Sattaur, to bring down Kaieteur News.
Confidential documentation, leaked to this publication, reveals that the Commissioner-General provided the former President with detailed tax information of a number of independent media houses in Guyana.
The disclosure of the information by GRA’s Commissioner-General to Jagdeo, represents a grave breach of the ‘Oath of Secrecy’ sworn to by Sattaur as an officer of the Guyana Revenue Authority, said one lawyer.
In taking the Oath, Sattaur solemnly declared that he would “truly, faithfully, impartially and honestly execute the powers vested in him.”
He also swore that he would “judge and determine upon all matters and things before him without fear, affection, or malice”.
And he swore, too, not to disclose any tax information concerning any taxpayer, but this has not been the case.
Both Jagdeo and Sattaur are fully aware of the impropriety of their action and as such Sattaur even acknowledged, in the documents, that Jagdeo is expected to treat the information with confidence, said the lawyer.
The documents would lift the lid off a few Government officials who have been insisting that all is right in Guyana and democracy is very much alive, he added.
Both Kaieteur News and Stabroek News have been on the receiving end of Government’s anger over critical issues like corruption, value for money on projects, and local government elections.
This publication is of the firm view that former President Jagdeo is not entitled to receive financial or tax information of any taxpayer, let alone a private citizen, as it would be highly improper, and clearly a breach of regulations.
The information received revealed that Jagdeo advised Sattaur on “an impending major audit of the Kaieteur News” as a public ploy to defend the GRA and Sattaur against criticisms by the Kaieteur News.
There is strong indication, according to the documents seen by Kaieteur News, that the plot between Sattaur and Jagdeo was hatched after a news report a few weeks ago raised questions over the employment of three children of the Commissioner-General at GRA. The report had questioned whether it was proper.
Sattaur had also been highly defensive and upset with Kaieteur News and the private media, after questions were asked of GRA’s role in granting Bai Shan Lin, a Chinese logging company that is being investigated by Parliament, tens of millions of dollars in duty free concessions.
When asked about details of the duty free concessions granted to Bai Shan Lin, Sattaur made it clear that the laws that are in place barred him from ever disclosing the information. He said that the matter was closed.
As such, the public was kept in the dark over those duty free concessions for high-end SUVs, like a Lexus, an Infiniti series, and even a number of luxury vans.
The granting of duty free concessions for vehicles pertaining to investments has to be relevant to the type of investment being made.
GRA remained silent on this and also how it granted the duty free concessions even before Bai Shan Lin was given permission to freely operate its concessions.
According to Kaieteur News’s publisher, Glenn Lall, he is now even more convinced that certain members within the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic and Government are determined to silence the voice of the independent media.
“The use of the Guyana Revenue Authority, a body to which members of the public entrust their most private information, as a weapon against the media is a dangerous development indeed, and a violation of press freedom…
“Kaieteur News is forced to ask what other tax information has not been compromised by Sattaur and Jagdeo?”
Lall opined that it is time for Sattaur to step down as Commissioner-General of GRA with an independent, criminal investigation launched to enquire the role played by Jagdeo, and to ensure that the tax agency is operating within its mandate.
“We also call on President Donald Ramotar to take steps to prevent Mr. Jagdeo from interfering further in his administration of the country,” Lall said.
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