Dec 25, 2015 News
– says Foreign Affairs Minister
By Kiana Wilburg
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, said that it is very unlikely that Chief Executive Officer of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington, will have a future career in the public sector.
The Minister’s comment was based on his assessment of a NICIL forensic audit report. The document was prepared by Chartered Accountant, Anand Goolsarran.
“What is clear is that the report is part of a process to ensure that justice is had in the right way. And a number of agencies will be involved in this process, namely the Ministries of Finance, Legal Affairs and Public Security,” Greenidge asserted.
“A lot of what was said in the report is in conformity with most of our findings even when we were in opposition. Goolsarran’s report however hammers home the point that Brassington has compromised his integrity. The report shows, too, how he threw ethics, corporate responsibility, and professionalism and even respect for the citizenry out of the window only to enrich his cohorts.”
“Given the blatant disregard Brassington has shown for this country, his office and the laws, it is very unlikely that under this administration, he would have a future career in the public sector. It is going to be difficult for him to return. People have been fired for a lot less and there was no chance of them being rehired.”
Brassington held a press conference on Monday, just one day before Cabinet was set to discuss the damning NICIL report. There, he insisted that he did nothing wrong or broke no laws during his tenure at NICIL. He said that he simply followed instructions handed down to him by the former Cabinet.
“Pleading innocence is not proof of innocence. And even if Brassington wants to say that he was basically following instructions to do all of the financial lawlessness he did, is it too complex for him to understand that his actions were downright unprofessional? The evidence to support that is also overwhelming.”
“The public sector is not like the private sector. In the public sector you have to balance the trust of two bosses, the public and the employer. In the case of Brassington, he obeyed the illegal directives given to him by the former Cabinet only to destroy the trust bestowed to him by the citizenry.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that Brassington’s excuse is only an attempt to “pull himself out of the mess that he is in.”
“But it is a baseless contention. Brassington has a fiduciary responsibility. He also has a corporate responsibility to be professional. You just can’t say that the former Cabinet instructed you to act illegally and so it’s justified for you to cheat the nation. Absolutely not. His excuse is unacceptable and also shows that he doesn’t even have a chromosome of decency left in him.”
Turning his attention to the findings of the report, Greenidge said that he found one particular case very appalling. He said that it is “detestable to read that the former Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, instructed for the Auditor General (AG)’s negative comments to be removed from the 2007 financial statements of the Cricket World Cup (CWC).”
The audit report made reference to the minutes of NICIL’s board meeting of February 29, 2012, where Dr. Singh was recorded as having stated that “The AG’s qualification of the accounts needs to be removed from CWC Inc.’s Annual Report.”
Chartered Accountant Anand Goolsarran said that it is not clear if NICIL followed through with Dr. Singh’s instructions, but noted that if it did, then such an action would be considered an act of professional misconduct. Brassington confirmed at his most recent press conference that this was acted on and the results are pending.
“This is most appalling. There should be no interference in the work of the Auditor General. This also brings to light once again, the kind of dictatorial environment we had where the AG’s comments were being censored directly by the Finance Minister. Brassington’s objection on this illegality was absent. He complied and saw nothing wrong with it. It is frightening to have people like this in the system,” Greenidge said.
Cabinet met on Tuesday to discuss the report, and coming out of the meeting were several instructions. Cabinet instructed that the reports and accompanying notes of Goolsarran and Junior Finance Minister, Jaipaul Sharma, be handed over to the Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud and the State Asset Recovery Unit for investigations.
The probe is intended to determine whether any acts of criminality were committed and to take the process forward.
To facilitate this new development, Cabinet instructed that Brassington and his Deputy, Marcia Nadir-Sharma be sent on leave immediately pending the outcome of the investigations.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon had 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.
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