Dec 09, 2015 News Comments Off on Controversial sale of govt shares in GT&T…Chinese company fails to pay in full
…but collects big bucks in dividends
While Director of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington, sits quietly awaiting long overdue payments for the sale of Government’s 20 percent shares in the Guyana Telephone and Telephone
Company (GTT), Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group has been receiving handsome dividends.
GTT’s acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Justin Nedd yesterday told Kaieteur News, that even though the Hong Kong Company is still to honour its financial obligations, GTT has been paying the company dividends for its shares.
Before Government sold its shares, it was receiving from GTT, a consistent annual dividend of about US$2.5M, making it the most successful investment ever undertaken by any administration in this country.
When asked if Datang has been receiving the dividends that the Guyana government used to pocket, Nedd questioned, “Why do you say that it is US$2.5M?” The suggestion is that the dividends could possibly be more, given the expanded GTT operations.
What he did note, however, is that the certificate which represents the transfer of shares has been presented to GTT. He said that that is all of GTT’s business; the rest is between Datang and NICIL. Nedd said that GTT need not concern itself in getting to know whether government has been paid or not.
Kaieteur News has been trying to get on to Winston Brassington for over a week now, but Brassington remains unavailable. He never answers his mobile phone. When the office is contacted his secretary has been relating messages of his unavailability.
The 20 percent shares that government once owned in GT&T were managed by NICIL.
Therefore, it is Brassington’s job to ensure that NICIL receives money for the sale. However, no known efforts are being made to recover the outstanding payments from Datang even though the difference was supposed to be paid so long ago.
The shares were sold by NICIL to Datang at sale price of US$30M. That was three years ago.
Of that amount, the company had paid over US$25M. The remaining US$5M was supposed to have been paid over within a two-year period, but this did not happen.
Available records do not reflect a payment from Datang that constitutes a final payment for the shares government had owned in the telephone company.
The name Datang had previously remained obscure as a result of the confidential agreement which was entered to in early 2011 with the Guyana Government. It only came to light following the finalization of the sale.
Datang had come in for scrutiny after it was discovered that the company actually featured in a US intelligence report as a company with links to the Chinese Military and was accused of spying.
The Pentagon had reported that “Information technology companies in particular, including Huawei, Datang and Zhongxing, maintain close ties to the PLA [People’s Liberation Army],” the report says.”
Datang was said to have been founded in 1999. The company is reportedly managed by the Chinese State-run Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council.
The then Guyana Government had also found itself on the receiving end of a barrage of criticisms when it was discovered that the money secured through the Datang deal with NICIL, was in fact used to press ahead with the construction of the controversial Guyana Marriott Hotel.
At the time, construction had already started on the Marriott with the contractor, Shanghai Construction Group.
When the shares were initially placed on the market, GT&T employees had offered to buy them, but this was rejected by government, which was adamant that the shares had to be purchased en bloc.
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