It is true that corruption schemes can be complex and opaque. But those involved are not always endlessly creative in hiding their tracks. Clear patterns of problematic behavior can be mapped out.
In an effort to help concerned individuals follow the intricate tracks of corruption in the many licensing and contracting processes involved in the oil, gas and mining sector, an international group has put together a list of 12 red flags.
The National Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) was able to put this list together after examining over 100 real-world cases of license or contract awards in the oil, gas and mining sectors in which accusations of corruption arose.
High up on the NRGI’s list is money received by Governments from companies which should go to the national accounts but are diverted to a separate account. The Institute notes that signature bonuses are vulnerable to this sort of behaviour given the contracts it has assessed.
The international organization noted that it is important to pay attention to such matters since it has found that governments do not report details about payments made, especially as it relates to the true size of the money received and bank account inflows and outflows.
It notes that the citizenry must demand that the government shows evidence that it collected what it said it did.
SIGNATURE BONUS SCANDAL
When Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram, made the revelation last year that the Government received a signing bonus from USA oil giant, ExxonMobil, several government members, including Finance Minister Winston Jordan and Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman, vehemently denied it.
But as more evidence came to the fore, it became harder for Government to deny that it was aware of the bonus.
In fact, a letter which was leaked to the press, called on Central Bank Governor, Dr. Gobind Ganga, on September 20, 2016, to open a foreign currency account to receive a signing bonus from ExxonMobil. Finance Secretary, Hector Butts, made it clear that the Bank of Guyana should not treat the money as part of its reserves.
Kaieteur News has also been reliably informed that while the government has not received a bonus of US$20M, it has collected one to the tune of US$18M.
The Finance Minister later defended the signing bonus in Parliament.
Jordan said, “Signing bonus seems to be a big issue. I don’t know why they calling it a leak. If we didn’t want a document in the open we would have pressed it under secret and made certain only certain people saw it. But it was open…”
The economist added, “Ask yourselves why it suddenly appeared in the papers…We don’t care. If whoever leaked it felt that that is the approach to how government business is done well so be it. It is out there.”
Ram later described Jordan’s attitude as being a display of ignorance of what constitutes a democracy. He reiterated, “It is more than worrying – it is dangerous.”
Kaieteur News had asked Ram if the Government could be forgiven for the manner in which it has chosen to handle this matter, especially with Ministers stating that they are not ashamed of what they did.
The lawyer said, “This is not a matter of forgiveness. It is not even only one of a sustained pattern of lies and deception by key Ministers over close to 28 months. Under section 85 (a) and (c) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act, indictable offences appear to have been committed for which substantial penalties apply.”
“To return to the question, the essential fabric of a government is its relationship with citizens which is grounded in trust and that has been irrecoverably severed. How can anyone be forgiven if they are incapable of remorse, penitence, shame and embarrassment?”
The Chartered Accountant also criticized the money from ExxonMobil which was going into a special account. Ram insisted that the Consolidated Fund is the only and constitutional place where it must go.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has since noted that the bonus is to be transferred to the national purse, soon.
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