Aug 17, 2017 News
…Trotman says advice being received on spotting loopholes
“We are being advised in terms of possible loopholes, pitfalls, areas of concern. We can’t say that we have detected or discerned any sign of the company trying to hoodwink us, but we are not going to be naïve. We are going to be prepared….”
– Minister of Natural Resources
By: Kiana Wilburg
It will be highly unlikely for USA oil giant, ExxonMobil to manipulate its books to rob the nation
of what is due to it, without being detected.
In fact, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman is confident that the Government and its relevant agencies will be able to keep this multi-billion dollar and multinational company in check.
Trotman recently told Kaieteur News that Guyana is armed with some of the world’s leading financial and petroleum experts.
The politician said that Guyana is receiving expert advice from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), Chatham House, the United States Government and even the Mexican Government.
Trotman said, “The point I am making is that we have some of the world’s leading financial and petroleum experts advising us. And so while we are not going to say we have seen no evidence of manipulation or attempts to manipulate, the government is relying on the very best international advice and expertise.”
The Natural Resources Minister also revealed that the Government is consulting with Experts from Deloitte which happens to be one of the top financial companies in the world. He said that Deloitte officials are consulting with the Ministry of Finance.
Trotman therefore feels that Guyana being fleeced by ExxonMobil is highly unlikely.
Trotman also stated that the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the IMF are expected to formulate a programme which will support those agencies in providing further advice to Guyana.
“We have met with their technical people and it has been determined that they will work out a shared responsibility in terms of advising us. We know that there are concerns and pitfalls but we are working…and as I said, we are not relying on our own judgment and understanding. We are learning and we are not leaving everything in the hands of the foreign consultants.
“But we are being advised in terms of possible loopholes, pitfalls, areas of concern. We can’t say that we have detected or discerned any sign of the company trying to hoodwink us, but we are not going to be naïve. We are going to be prepared.”
Trotman believes that the most important thing for the Government is to satisfy the Guyanese people that they are getting value for money.
EXXONMOBIL’S WORRYING PAST
This oil and gas superpower has faced a wave of litigation regarding the underpayment of royalties.
In the case of Chad, ExxonMobil was fined US$74 billion as it was ruled in the courts that the nation was underpaid in the royalties it was entitled to from the oil giant.
Research indicates that the fine itself is about five times more than Chad’s Gross Domestic Product, which the World Bank estimates at US$13 billion.
The fine imposed against the company was handed down October 5, last by the High Court in the capital, N’Djamena. The ruling was in reaction to a protest from the Finance Ministry in Chad that a group led by the ExxonMobil giant did not honour its tax commitments.
According to www.bloomberg.com, the court also demanded that the Texas-based oil explorer pay US$819 million in overdue royalties.
Legal minds believe that Chad would not see most of the money as ordered by the court.
ExxonMobil has since said that it disagreed with the Chadian court’s ruling. At the time of the judgment, it was examining other options.
Additionally, in 2003, ExxonMobil was found to be defrauding the state of Alabama out of royalty payments and was ordered by the courts to pay up more than US$100 million in back-pay royalties.
According to www.classaction.org., in August 2012, a Kansas judge approved a US$54 million settlement with landowners who claimed they were underpaid royalties when ExxonMobil made deductions for expenses that occurred downstream of their wells.
The settlement also ended a lawsuit filed in Kansas state court against ExxonMobil over royalties dating back to 2000.
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