A former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Office For Investment (GO-Invest) who refused to carry out an unlawful act allegedly at the behest of ex-president, Donald Ramotar, was transferred after he refused.
The incident was said to have occurred in 2012, a few months after the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) returned to power with a minority government, according to the released forensic audit report.
In May 2015 shortly after taking office, the Coalition government ordered a series of forensic audits to determine the health of several State agencies. The findings have raised several worrying facts about controls and of specific transactions themselves.
A number of the audit reports have been sent to the police for further investigations. On Friday, the GO-Invest report was released by the administration.
Among the several instances that were flagged by the forensic auditor, was a transaction involving the duty free concessions for two Sports Utility Vehicles for forestry work.
According to the audit, the then head of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Khurshid Sattaur, by way of correspondence dated March 1, 2012 to Desmond Mohamed, CEO of GO-Invest; sought to pass on a political directive from President Donald Ramotar to revise the Investment Agreement (IA) with Diamond Tropical Wood Products Inc.
That company was described in the report as being a subsidiary of Toolsie Persaud Limited.
However, principals of Toolsie on Friday denied that Diamond Tropical Wood Products is a subsidiary. They said that the company had asked for operational and other advice and this was given and that was the relationship.
According to the audit report, it appears that Diamond Tropical asked for concessions for one 4X4 enclosed Toyota Land Cruiser and an additional one as well as a pick-up as the project progresses. The GO-Invest CEO was advised to submit the adjusted Investment Agreement (IA) for the Finance Minister’s approval.
“The investor was told by then CEO of Go-Invest, Mr. Desmond Mohamed, that two vehicles instead of four would be recommended, one for the commencement of the project and the other during operations.”
The CEO reportedly reiterated that GO-Invest cannot recommend a five-seater Land Cruiser since such vehicles do not fall within the guidelines for concessions.
However, Diamond Tropical Wood Products Inc. did not agree with the guidance from GO-Invest and had a meeting with President Ramotar and the former GRA head, Khurshid Sattaur.
“A GRA letter to GO-Invest arising from the meeting dated March 1, 2012, requested adjustments to the Investment Agreement that would allow for concessions to be recommended for the item under dispute re: 4X4 enclosed Toyota Land Cruiser,” the forensic audit report said.
The CEO by correspondence dated March 9, 2012 informed the Head of GRA that he could not comply since the President of Guyana had not given him any instruction.
“Mr. Mohamed was shortly thereafter reverted to his substantive job at Guyana National Shipping Corporation Ltd. Mr. Mohamed was succeeded by Mr. Keith Burrowes as CEO, the then Chairman of the GO-Invest.”
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