Sep 14, 2016 News
-Says Maurice Odle should shed some light on documents Harmon brought back from his China trip
Head of the State Asset Recovery Unit (SARU) Dr. Clive Thomas is disappointed that the head of the
National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Dr. Maurice Odle, is misleading the nation on the government-owned shares in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company.
Dr. Thomas said that it was NICIL’s responsibility to tell the truth about what really happened with the outstanding moneys to be received on the shares. He said that he was shocked, however, when he noticed that Odle chose to pass blame to SARU.
Odle had said that SARU was conducting its own investigations and is yet to formally advise the NICIL Board on its progress.
Contrary to Odle’s claims, Dr. Thomas said at no point was he ever asked to look into the GTT fiasco.
The SARU Head said, “I never had any conversation with Odle or any NICIL member for him or anyone to get the impression that SARU is doing any investigation into the GTT shares.
“In fact, SARU was never asked to look into this matter, a matter that involves millions of dollars that should have been paid for shares owned by the state. After a trip to China by two of its own members, the nation is still to find clarity on this issue.”
“Also, I want to make it clear that SARU was never expected to update NICIL on anything regarding the GTT shares. Imagine I have been out of the country for just a few weeks and I return to these spurious claims.”
For weeks, the NICIL Head had been silent and even evading pressing questions from this media on the issue.
Odle finally broke his silence on the matter after noting an article in Kaieteur News which said 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 monies 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 legal 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.
Dr. Thomas confirmed that even though he and Harmon share the same compound at the Ministry of the Presidency, he has not seen these documents on the GTT shares. He reminded, too, that Harmon is NICIL board member. “NICIL has an obligation to do its work and avoid placing the blame, and falsely at that, on others for its lax behaviour.”
The SARU Head added, “We (SARU) are an efficient unit and we take cases involving state assets very seriously, hence, my extreme disappointment when those reckless comments were made by the NICIL Chairman. He should shed some light on the documents Harmon received from his China trip.”
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