Jan 23, 2016 News
-claims he was asked to do illegal things
Following the explanations given Rawle Lucas, Chairman of the Guyana Revenue Authority, on the termination of Commissioner-General, Khurshid Sattaur, the following statement was released yesterday
“While I am extremely disturbed by the allegations made by the Chairman for corrupt practices at (yesterday’s) press conference held at the GRA, I am equally devastated by his acts that has (sic) forced me to give a response to the many
allegations made against me.
From the time the Chairman held the first press conference in which he accused me of having six vehicles in my possession at my home amongst other highly offensive things, I became extremely suspicious that I will be targeted in the future for various wrongdoings to which I am innocent and nor have knowledge of.
For the public’s information I have always have (sic) only two vehicles in my possession, a Camry and a Fortuna- for which the Fortuna I was recently been relieved of.
I have a deep concern of the welfare and well-being of the GRA since many of my close colleagues are employed there and from these displays coming from someone who is in charge of this important agency I can only hope that my years of dedicated service do not go to the wayside and result in my former colleagues being impoverished.
Even though, year after year I have been instrumental in achieving my revenue targets and surpassing them on all occasions, it is worrying to say the least that last year I was informed unofficially of the GRA not attaining the revenue target by half of a billion due to my absence of only two weeks.
Because of the many misrepresentation (sic) by Mr. Lucas concerning what I said to the Board and what I would have responded to him about what I have in my possession, because he is a professional person like me, and since I find his statement to be most distasteful and offensive, I am contemplating taking legal actions.
Soon after the new government was installed and the replacement for Mr. Clement Sealey was hastily put in place it had become painfully obvious to me that I would be unable to act professionally as I am accustomed to in the position of Commissioner General.
On repeated occasions I was asked to do various things such as:
1) Settling taxpayer’s cases for meager sums that would have caused (sic) the country billions of dollars in lost revenue. I am prepared to provide a list of names at a later date.
2) Promote persons who did not have the requisite qualifications and who were acting for a considerable period, before they were suitably qualified
3) Promote persons in position who had QUESTIONABLE RECORDS of service, based on objective investigation conducted.
4) Rehire persons who were previously dismissed for corrupt practices. These persons have since been rehired, since I have departed GRA and I have been advised are in senior positions.
5) Turn a blind eye to taxpayer’s files including Minister Ramjattan’s being photocopied and taken out of the agency by a known person (the list of names I will be divulging at a later time)
With regards to these allegation which include the following; ‘Breach of my Oath of Office’, ‘Possession of Safe responsible for storing confidential tax payers’ documents’ and ‘back dating of benefits for myself, I wish to provide the following response.
“In relation to the back-dating of my pension plan to 2007, when I retired in 2011, I was advised by Prominent Lawyer, Ashton Chase and the Human Resources and the Legal Department of GRA can testified to this, that I was entitled to those benefits under the GRA’s contributory pension scheme.
Further this benefit was due to me from 2007 after I found out that I was entitled to those benefits .The reason why I was not claiming these benefits before is that the HR department never told me that I was entitled, even though other persons were receiving it.
After I got the approval from the HR department I went ahead and claimed my benefits. Ms. Roopnauth, the Director of Budget can attest to this. If this is so wrong why was the monies (sic) approved for payment?”
I further deny claims that I admitted to the Board, to divulging tax payers’ information to anyone. However, I do admit to the Board of giving information to the Diplomatic Head of Mission with information sought, given that it was diplomat’s information and not that of a taxpayer.
I do not agree that for the reasons given above that I admitted to the Board that I divulged taxpayers’ information. The information was to facilitate an audit by the embassy of its records and done in the best interest of safeguarding the integrity of the GRA system. It was also done to validate information received from a third party as we routinely do at GRA as part of their routine work when granting large amount of tax concessions according to the GRA’s SOP.
I wish to further state that the Head of the Mission wanted to know about his staff who was providing businesses with certification that were fraudulently obtained.
This staff is not a taxpayer and had the Board sought a proper explanation from me they would have been told that the diplomat visited my office and in my presence certified that his staff did or did not issue a fraudulent document from his Mission.
With regards to the claims by GRA Chairman, Rawle Lucas, earlier in the day, I wish to emphatically state that I never revealed taxpayer information to anyone. Those are all fabrications that I find most offensive and atrocious. This is most disgusting as I never admitted to the Board that I gave out taxpayer information.
I further wish to state that while at the Board meeting, I was put on the spot and I did not have an opportunity to explain the background. I do however admit that I was aware of the particular question and I responded in a manner that did not implicate me in revealing taxpayer information to anyone.
As a background of that situation, I did recall a month prior to the May 11, 2015 General Elections, a diplomat asked me to facilitate a probe that the foreign government had been conducting into one of its staff members. One of their staff is not a taxpayer of this country. That staff member had allegedly breached a very serious protocol and had given the GRA information on someone which should not have been the case and as such the Diplomat was asked by his government to investigate the matter.
Nothing at Home
I am of the belief that one of my former very senior GRA staff members, and who was suspended for one week afterwards for falsification of documents, later reported that interaction with the embassy official to either the Board or the Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan.
This particular individual, who was with me at the meeting I had with the embassy officials, whom I took deliberately to be a witness to what I was discussing with the Diplomat, would have appeared to have misled the Board or the politician in retaliation.
On the issue of the safe being at my home, my son was employed by GRA in the IT department, in a senior capacity and he was given responsibility for storing the tax agency’s data at another safe place offsite, a situation that the previous Board and government did not find offensive and distrustful, as a temporary measure.
However this storage of the data at my home was abandoned about five years ago. My home or the safe was no longer the repository of that information. I categorically state that the safe never had any data. I wish to state further that the infrastructure related to the backing up of the data has since been removed under the directive of the new GRA Board.
The use of the safe was discontinued years ago when a new back up site was created at another location but the safe continued to remain at my home to store my GRA weapon and ammunition up until recently.
In closing I am sadden (sic) by the fact that after serving the tax collection agency for decades and increasing revenues by 192 percent in 11 years, the GRA has a Chairman who appears to be operating in a highly questionable manner.
I have spent many years of dedicated service to the agency and the least I can expect is the Chairman to display some level of intellectual honesty towards me.
I have given appropriate direction to my lawyers so that they can act in my best interest. End.
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