Dec 24, 2015 News
After deliberating on the forensic audit report on the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Cabinet finally instructed that the report be forwarded to the Guyana Police Force and the State Asset Recovery Unit (SARU).
While this is being done, Cabinet also gave clear instructions for NICIL’s Chief Executive Officer, Winston Brassington, and his Deputy, Marcia Nadir-Sharma, to be sent immediately on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigations.
Making this statement yesterday was Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, during a press conference at the Ministry of the Presidency.
Harmon said that the Cabinet meeting which was held on Tuesday could be described as an “historic one.” He said that Cabinet discussed critical matters which could have far reaching effects.
The Government Minister noted one of those topics to be the damning NICIL report which was conducted by Chartered Accountant, Anand Goolsarran.
In the company of Junior Finance Minister, Jaipaul Sharma, Harmon explained that Cabinet deliberated on various issues relating to the NICIL report and took into account the recommendations submitted by Goolsarran. He noted that recommendations were also submitted by Minister Sharma and those were also up for consideration.
Harmon said, too, that Cabinet was advised that the NICIL Board of Directors had not yet deliberated on the report.
Be that as it may, Cabinet instructed that the reports and accompanying notes of Goolsarran and Sharma, be handed over to the Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud and SARU for investigations.
He said that the probe is intended to determine whether any acts of criminality were committed and to take the process forward.
The Minister of State also informed the media that Cabinet gave instructions for the said report to be submitted to Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, for a more precise audit of the issues highlighted in the report.
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, is also expected to give instructions for a transaction audit to be conducted on NICIL.
Harmon was reminded that Brassington during a press conference on Monday to defend his actions, made it clear that his decisions were approved by the former Cabinet.
Should the police find areas of criminality regarding the involvement of the former Cabinet in Brassington’s actions, Harmon was asked what the next step would be?
“Well I don’t want to second guess what the police will find or what the precise forensic audit will find from the AG’s office. But what I can say is in Cabinet’s view, there is sufficient information provided in the report for the agencies, which the report was sent to use as a basis for further action. Cabinet is not saying anybody should be charged.
“Cabinet said that based on the reports, it should be sent to the relevant bodies for them to explore further and dig deeper, so as to determine whether criminality occurred and if they do find criminality, then they should take whatever action they deem necessary.”
Harmon said that with such a serious matter, the administration cannot act on impulse.
Should Brassington ponder fleeing the jurisdiction, the Government Minister said that if the police feel that based on their investigations someone is likely to be charged, then they have adequate methods at their disposal to retain that person in Guyana.
The forensic report on NICIL exposes how Brassington bypassed internationally recognized and credible companies only to engage criminal entities for the construction of the Marriott Hotel. He failed to justify how millions of dollars were spent in the Linden Mining Enterprise and to properly account for their assets.
He also paved the way for NICIL to illegally fund the preparation of the Pradoville Two scheme, misappropriated billions of dollars, and kept $26B from the Consolidated Fund.
Based on that and more, Goolsarran made several recommendations on the way forward regarding the entity. Most of these were followed by Cabinet, given their announcements.
He also recommended that moves be made to institute criminal and/or disciplinary actions for the interception of State revenues totaling $26.858 billion in violation of Articles 216 of the Constitution and the related sections of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMA).
He said that disciplinary action is provided for under the following sections of the FMA Act: (a) Section 48 — Misuse of public moneys; (b) Section 49 — Liability for loss of public moneys; and (c) Section 85 — Liability of an official.
Goolsarran also called for the institution of criminal and/or disciplinary actions against all those responsible for violating Article 217 of the Constitution, by causing expenditure to be incurred without parliamentary approval.
The Chartered Accountant called for NICIL to be liquidated and for the appointment of a Receiver to oversee the liquidation process. He said, too, that Government should re-activate the Privatisation Unit as a department of the Ministry of Finance to manage the Government’s residual investments after liquidation proceedings have concluded.
In this regard, he noted that the existing staff of NICIL could be transferred to the Ministry of Finance.
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