Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Khurshid Sattaur, has corroborated reports in other
sections of the media that the entity he heads, intends to file criminal charges against Kaieteur News Publisher, Glenn Lall, his wife, Bhena, family friends, Narootandeo Brijnanan and his wife, Gharbassi along with their son, Navin.
The proposed charges stem from the importation of two Lexus vehicles by the Brijnanans, and used occasionally by Lall and his wife Bhena as part of their security detail.
Sattaur during a telephone interview with this publication, yesterday, said that the matter is currently engaging the attention of his attorney, whose name he refused to divulge.
He has already sued for libel using R. Satram, C.V. Satram and Mahendra Satram.
He has accused Lall of waging a vendetta against him and as such would be taking the matter to the courts.
Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, when contacted yesterday said that it was the GRA that enforces the Customs Act, which he believes is the relevant legislation under which any charges would be filed.
Attorney-at-Law, Khemraj Ramjattan, however is not so confident about Sattaur filing any charges against Lall.
According to Ramjattan – who has already called for Sattaur’s resignation – the Commissioner General may be hesitant to follow through with any such charges.
Ramjattan, who has represented Kaieteur News, said that he did not want to make too many pronouncements at this stage, since no charges have been filed, and as such he is unaware of the specific allegations being made against Lall and others.
He said that what he does know is that should the Commissioner General actually file charges, then he, Sattaur, will be made
According to Ramjattan, Sattaur will then be forced to tell the court who authorized the release of the tax information on several privately-owned media houses and who authorized that he share it with ‘BJ.’
He was of course making reference to the former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, and emails purportedly sent by Sattaur to the former President and sitting Attorney General, Anil Nandlall.
According to at least one of Sattaur’s emails published by Kaieteur News, Sattaur informed Nandlall that he had provided the former President with “information which I would expect he treats with the utmost confidentiality.”
This publication on Sunday last, published a redacted email sent from Sattaur to Jagdeo, where he, Sattaur, divulged tax information of several privately-owned media houses.
According to the email, Sattaur informs Nandlall that “since we are in this thing together, I see no harm in sharing this with you. However, further to the assurances you have given me that the Government will be pursuing the newspaper for libel and other offences of a criminal nature, I will await the determination of such action before I provide you with the details on Kaieteur News. Of course I am deeply indebted to the Government for the confidence it places in me to continue to execute my duties as CG.”
Sattaur had sought to defend his actions by saying that while the Income Tax laws make provision for certain tax information
to be treated as confidential, there are several exceptions to this general rule.
Specifically, under S4 of the Income Tax Act, a disclosure to the state is not prohibited, a disclosure for the purposes of the administration of the Act is allowed and a disclosure to any person with the authorization of the president is permitted under the law. These exceptions are further extended by the Revenue Authority Act, Act No. 13 of 1996. Under S23 of this Act disclosure is further allowed in four instances.
Checks with Office of the President revealed that there was no such request by Head of State, Donald Ramotar.
In relation to the proposed charges promised by Sattaur, he had told this publication that he is building a case against the Kaieteur News and its publisher Glenn Lall.
Sattaur said that he is in possession of a recorded conversation between himself and Lall. The contents of the conversation will not be published or shared but rather will be tendered as evidence in the court, he said.
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