Nov 15, 2016 News
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
The Board of Inquiry set up to look into the affairs of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority has cleared Directors Anthony Vieira and Vic Insanally on all corruption allegations made against them by Broadcaster, Kenwin Charles.
The Inquiry was conducted by Major General Joe Singh who worked along closely with the Legal Advisor from the Ministry of the Presidency, Geeta Chandan-Edmond.
The report seen by Kaieteur News has not yet been released to the public.
The Board examined five allegations made by Charles and his lawyer, Nigel Hughes.
The Broadcaster said that Vieira and Insanally demanded that he relocate from Essequibo. He also said that Vieira was verbally abusive to him and wanted to take away his service. The broadcaster also said that Insanally encouraged him to sell his operation to businessman, Alfro Alphonso.
Charles’ Attorney said that Vieira exceeded the remit authorized by the Board and his conduct was unlawful and improper.
However, Major General Singh, in his report, stated that the allegations made by Charles against the directors are “unfounded and without merit.”
He said that there was an absence of direct evidence from Charles intending to prove improper or unlawful conduct by Directors of GNBA. Singh also said that Charles’s testimony was “riddled with several inconsistencies.
Singh found it apt to note that Charles made a deliberate decision to invest in broadcasting equipment. He said too that Charles misled the current GNBA Board as well as former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds on the location of his operations on the Essequibo Coast and secretly recorded a meeting with himself and Director Insanally. “The question then became how much credibility is to be accorded to such evidence?”
However, Singh said that in analyzing the evidence he was able to form a comprehensive picture which allowed him to arrive at his findings “with certitude.”
In his submissions to the Board of Inquiry, Nigel Hughes said that it would appear, from the minutes of the Board meeting, that there was no empowering of the sub-committee which Vieira headed, to make any offers to Charles or to suggest to him that he should cease operating or that he should move his operations or constrain them, reduce them or modify them in any way.
Hughes said that despite that fact, Vieira went ahead and did those very things. Hughes said that Vieira went as far as to indicate that he could assist with the transition by identifying a person who could provide Charles with a plot of land to operate. Hughes said that it was Charles’ refusal of this proposal that invited the “wrath of Mr. Vieira.”
In written statements both Insanally and Vieira denied “demanding” that Charles must move his operations. They said that they were just “offering options” to Charles to make his operations legal.
Violet Boyal, Company Secretary, who was present at the meeting, also provided a written statement. Boyal said that Vieira informed Charles that an offer had already been made to a person on the Essequibo Coast and it would not be profitable for both of them to exist. However, “for compensation he can relocate to Mahaica Mahaicony Abary where his subscriber base will increase.”
Boyal said that Vieira indeed offered to introduce Charles to a man by the name of Jeffrey Fraser who owns land in Region 5 and can make it available to him. Nevertheless, she said that Charles was assured that the Board was not trying to close persons down, but was trying to regulate them.
Orally, Boyal told the Board of Inquiry that Vieira became “emphatic” when Charles insisted that he wanted to stay in the Essequibo. She said at that stage Vieira began “banging his hands on the desk.”
Despite such submissions, Singh wrote, “Based on the facts presented there is no veracity in the allegation that Vieira was demanding that Charles must relocate from the Essequibo Coast.”
ABUSIVE AND UNLAWFUL CONDUCT
On the count of abuse, Boyal bore witness that Vieira raised his voice at Charles and slapped his hands on the table. However, according to the report, Boyal said that she did not consider Vieira’s behaviour abusive, but reflective of his frustration of the stance Charles was taking.
Rebecca Connelly, another GNBA worker was present during a short period of the meeting. She told the Board of Inquiry that “the thought never crossed my mind that there was something untoward or improper about his (Vieira) approach…it was more in keeping with his personality, forceful.”
Based on these submissions Singh found that Vieira’s conduct was “not abusive within the legal definition of abusive.
On behalf of his client, Hughes told the Board of Inquiry that Vieira exceeded the remit offered by the Board of GNBA and his conduct was improper.
However, Singh found that Vieira acted in “good faith” and in the best interests of the GNBA and Charles. He did this, according to the report, by pointing out to Charles that the Board was likely to take steps under new regulations drafted to redefine broadcasting and that channels used by Charles’ operations at Essequibo were UHF frequencies and that he should either offer services in Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS) or consider the market opportunity to relate to Region 5.
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