Feb 06, 2017 News
By: Kiana Wilburg
Keith Burrowes’ words have come back to haunt him.
In May 2015, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) told Kaieteur News that the entity was kept in the dark about some Investment Agreements, especially as it relates to BaiShanLin International Forest Development Inc.
He had said that most foreign investments in Guyana’s natural resources went through the Ministry of Natural Resources, which was headed by Robert Persaud. He had emphasized on several occasions that companies like “BaiShanLin did not come through us (Go-Invest).”
But a forensic audit report that was prepared by Nigel Hinds Financial Services (NHFS) indicates that Go-Invest was very much informed about BaiShanLin’s Investment Agreement.
The report says after the initial Investment Agreement in 2007, there were three renewals and six supplemental agreements signed between BaiShanLin and Go-Invest based on file information.
It also said that Supplementary Agreements in 2012 and 2013 included a proposal for additional construction equipment and recommendations were made and granted.
The forensic auditors said that there seems to be another Initial Investment Agreement for BaiShanLin related to Real Estate among other sectors. The auditors stated that discussions with an Investment Officer at Go-Invest suggest that this agreement was inconsistent with Go-Invest’s policies.
The auditors also pointed out that during the period 2007 to 2012, BaiShanLin was cutting and exporting raw lumber without processing it or creating value added products. This was a clear violation of its Investment Agreement which said that BaiShanLin’s main objective is to use the nation’s forest resources to produce from its processing plant, a wide range of finished products.
The auditors suggested that this should have been picked up by Go-Invest, since it was their responsibility to go through Investment Agreements on an annual basis. The auditors also highlighted the fact that even though there was a breach of contract which continued for years, Go-Invest imposed not a single sanction against the defaulting company.
It is not clear why Burrowes told a completely different tale in 2015. But Kaieteur News confronted him with the findings yesterday.
This newspaper asked him if he recalled stating that Go-Invest was kept in the dark as it relates to some Investment Agreements, especially as it relates to BaiShanLin.
The former CEO of Go-Invest agreed that he indeed told the newspaper that companies like “BaiShanLin did not come through us (Go-Invest).”
He was then told of the forensic audit and the fact that shows that Go-Invest was aware of BaiShanLin’s Investment Agreements.
In his defence he said: “I can’t confirm what those forensic auditors are saying. I have to see the forensic audit report first. I have not seen it! And I have to see their evidence. I have to see it! I signed hundreds of Investment Agreements during my time so you can’t expect me to remember everything. You can’t expect me to remember that BaiShanLin agreement came through Go-Invest.”
But later on he said, “… I am not disputing what you are saying. Indeed I do recall that I said BaiShanLin’s Investment Agreements did not come through us. I don’t want you to paint me as a liar but girl, it is now that you are telling me this, I now remember that BaiShanLin did come in one time and there was an Investment Agreement with us…”
“All I wish to say now is that the forensic audit report is a good report. But you cannot expect me to remember all these things…Listen, I am not well. In fact I just came back from the hospital…”
The former CEO of Go-Invest said that he is not prepared to give any further comments based on advice he received.
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