Jan 29, 2017 News
by Brushell Blackman
Former Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) General Manager, Jagnarine Singh, has spoken
for the first time since a damning audit found a number of irregularities at that entity during his tenure.
Yesterday, Singh said that he has nothing to hide and that he was willing to answer any question by the police or the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) whenever they are ready to speak to him.
Responding to the slew of allegations made, the former GM said that he knew when the audit by Nigel Hinds Financial Services was ongoing and at no point was he contacted to clarify anything. He said that he was never interviewed.
He said the first time he learnt of the allegations was when he read about them in the press while on a trip in Jamaica. “Upon reading this, I returned four days sooner than I should have so that the wrong impression would not have been gleaned from his absence.”
Responding to the allegations, he said that there are things that were said in that report that were new and surprising to him. Singh said that in 2014 an external audit of the board was done by the Auditor General’s Office and a clean bill of health was given to the entity at that time.
The former GM said anything that was done was above board and in accordance with the policies that govern the entity. He said receipts were provided for all transactions and that he was never complicit in any way to these alleged wrongdoings being peddled in the press.
He said that he knows that he will be tried in the court of ‘public opinion’ but in due course the facts will be made clear. He is confident that the correct decision will be made and he will be exonerated.
Singh said that SOCU has his contact details and they know where to find him and he is not going anywhere until all is laid bare so that justice is served.
There is one thing that is emerging from the scandal, another source has made mention of an official that was sent to the GRDB by the Ministry of Agriculture and who was responsible for the management of the organization.
He, along with an accountant that has since resigned, controlled all of GRDB’s financial matters and excluded all others. The official performed the duties of the General Manager (GM) while the legitimate GM (Jagnarine Singh) was still there. Some employees said they were shocked when they read the newspapers yesterday and did not know all “this thiefing did going on”.
The Audit report found, among other things, that former GM, Jagnarine Singh, lied to his employers and to the Venezuelan government to receive monies from the Petro Caribe Fund.
Additionally the GRDB paid air fares and “per diem” for Saj Rice Mill Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Carlos Colombia, contrary to the board’s policy. There were also instances when loans were disbursed and promissory notes were used as official documents for the transaction.
Further the report found that GRDB employees cashed cheques to the values of G$9.8M there “on behalf of suppliers” but there is no way to know if those monies found their way to these “suppliers”. The damning nature of the report resulted in the Junior Finance Minister, Jaipaul Sharma, asking the police to investigate.
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