After weeks of being silent and evading pressing questions from the media, the Chairman of the National
Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Dr. Maurice Odle has finally come forward with a statement on the state of affairs of the entity.
His statement comes in wake of a Kaieteur News article which stated that even under new direction, the controversial company was still shrouded in secrecy.
Among other issues, Odle sought to explain the status of the outstanding moneys to be received on the GTT shares.
He recalled that NICIL sold the Government’s investment in GT&T in 2012 for US$30M of which the sum of US$25M was received. Odle noted that the balance of US$5M was to be paid within a period of two years.
To date, Government does not know what really happened with that money. It has only received different versions of what had occurred before it assumed office.
At one point, the nation was told that Guyana’s former Ambassador to China, David Dabydeen, facilitated a debt write- off to Hong Kong Golden Telecom Company (HKGT), the company that bought Government’s shares in GTT. HKGT is a subsidiary of Datang Telecom International Technology (Hong Kong) Company Limited.
Kaieteur News understands that the purchase agreement between the Chinese company and Guyana was framed in such a manner that in the event of any legal issue, Guyana or HKGT would have to petition the United Kingdom courts.
NICIL had said that in an attempt to avoid costly and lengthy adjudication of the matter in the English Courts, it called on the Government to encourage HKGT through diplomatic channels, to honour its contractual obligations.
NICIL said that what was alleged by HKGT was that following a series of communications with the former Guyana Ambassador to China, HKGT was assured that it was not required to pay the balance of US$5M. This was because HKGT had not been granted the same minority protection rights enjoyed by NICIL—that is two representatives, instead of one, on the GT&T Board of Directors. HKGT alleged that it was initially promised two seats by the then government of Guyana.
NICIL said that HKGT also alleged that the decision to waive the US$5M was contained in a side agreement.
NICIL noted that it has not been able to verify the veracity of HKGT’s claim of waiver and has requested the assistance of the Government of Guyana to verify the validity of HKGT’s assertion and the documents they produced to support same.
The second version of what happened to the GTT shares further complicates the controversy.
In this age of technology, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon in the company of a NICIL officer went all the way to China to ascertain if Guyana was actually paid the money by the entity which initially bought the GTT shares. Harmon subsequently returned to his homeland with some documents on the GTT shares saga that the nation is yet to see.
Nevertheless, Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman had told the media that Harmon had retrieved documents from his trip to China which indicate that the money had been paid before last year’s general elections.
Up to yesterday, NICIL said that it is still trying to ascertain the veracity of the documents which state that the outstanding balance was written off.
Dr. Odle said that the State Asset Recovery Unit (SARU) was conducting its own investigations in this regard. The NICIL Chairman said that SARU is yet to formally advise the NICIL Board on its progress.
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