A forensic audit report of the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) for the period November 2011 to May 2015 has pointed to a stormy relationship between former Chairman, Winston Brassington, and Chief Executive
Officer, Bharat Dindyal.
The audit, conducted by Nigel Hinds Financial Services, was recently handed over to the police for further investigations.
The report sheds light on GPL’s operations during the period when former Deputy CEO, Aeshwar Deonarine, now on the run and living in the US, was being charged locally with allegedly transferring almost $30M to his overseas bank account without authorization.
Brassington has left the country and is reportedly living in the US.
According to the audit report, there was a constant battle between Brassington, other members of the Board and Dindyal.
“Mr. Dindyal expressed his intentions to resign on many occasions but was relieved from his position after the change in Government following the May 2015 National Elections. Mr. Dindyal was cautioned several times by the Chairman and other members of the Board to amend his attitude and even ran into difficulties with the trade union.”
The forensic audit report said that while Dindyal was eminently qualified as an engineer, he was described as very confrontational and arrogant by his colleagues and not suitable material for the top position.
The members of the board at several meetings also expressed tremendous dissatisfaction with the poor performance of Colin Welch, former Deputy Chief Executive Officer – Technical.
“Mr. Narvon Persaud shared the view that was expressed by his colleagues that Mr. Colin Welch does not have the technical competence or experience to manage his portfolio efficiently and effectively, and this was evident in his poor performance. It was also suggested that he should be reassigned to a position that is more relevant to his credentials and expertise.”
Welch, who made an unsolicited application to GPL for work, was sacked by the administration, months after it entered office. Welch too had clashes with the former CEO. In fact, a tape made it online to YouTube.
With regards to Brassington and Dindyal’s relationship, the audit reports gave some details.
Brassington in a letter dated June 16th, 2014 raised concerns to Dindyal about the existence of a Management Committee.
“The Chairman noted in his letter that this Committee is not provided for or documented on any Board-approved organization or governance structure for GPL. The Board requested the terms of reference, nature, authority and submissions of minutes of all meetings held.”
Investigations into this matter confirmed that a Management Committee existed prior to Dindyal’s tenure as CEO of the state-owned entity.
“The Management Committee comprised executive staffers only and reported to the Chief Executive Officer, and minutes of all meetings were maintained. The Executives reported on the progress of work undertaken by each division and new projects on stream.”
The report stressed that it is usual for any CEO to hold meetings with his executive staff and have these formally documented.
“It appears that Mr. Winston Brassington was not comfortable with the Executive Committee as it was not part of the formal structure. This might have led to the many confrontations with the Chief Executive Officer as was noted in the minutes.”
It appears that the stormy relationship between the two officials, tasked with overseeing a billion-dollar state company, affected their meetings. In 2011 there were only four Board of Directors meetings. This improved to 12 and 11 respectively for the next two years, with 19 meetings in 2014. That year was when GPL ran into problems with a US$30M-plus new Wartsila power plant at Vreed-en-Hoop, causing a delay in the commissioning.
Worse yet for GPL, several of its committees were hardly meeting. These included the Audit, Finance and Human Resources. The Tender and Commercial Committees did better – the former met 14 times in 2013 and 12 in 2014. There were no Tender Committee meetings in 2011.
GPL has billions of dollars annually at its disposal to spend on fuel, parts, and contracted employees. There have been accusations of collusion with tenders.
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