On July 7, last, Kaieteur News reported that Special Assistant to the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA), Eric Phillips, is listed on an application for an offshore oil block that is located in ultra deep waters.
The company that applied for the block is called African Business Roundtable Oil and Gas Exploration (ABR), of which Phillips is a co-founder.
Before publication, Kaieteur News made numerous efforts to contact the official for clarity on several issues related to the application made in 2016. But Phillips refused to take the calls.
After a few messages were sent to him via Facebook Messenger, Phillips said that he was out of the jurisdiction. It was explained that based on records at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), he is listed on the application as a shareholder.
When asked if he is still part of ABR, Phillips said that this newspaper should speak with veteran Engineer, Charles Ceres, who is also listed on the application as a shareholder/beneficial owner.
Ceres subsequently explained that he left ABR last year September on the occasion of his 65th birthday and that up to that time, Phillips was still part of ABR.
Kaieteur News did not divulge to Phillips what it had learnt at that time. He was only told via Facebook Messenger that Ceres was contacted. Phillips subsequently claimed that he was no longer part of ABR.
Asked to say when he left the company; there was no response via that messenger chat. Kaieteur News clearly explained that in a published piece.
After the publication of the article, Ceres subsequently contacted Kaieteur News to say that Phillips has authorized him to speak on the matter on his behalf.
Ceres could not say when exactly Phillips left ABR. He said that the SARA official has to answer that on his own. Continued attempts to contact Phillips on the matter all proved futile.
In light of the foregoing, it is utterly dishonest and revolting for the SARA official to then state in a letter to the media that this news outfit displayed “reckless disengagement of fact-checking or due diligence.”
The only recklessness that is evident is Phillips’s failure to show what Kaieteur News failed to fact-check, when he has refused to face the crucial questions being posed by this entity on the issue.
Contrary to Phillips’s ill-informed contentions, this newspaper wishes to make it clear that at no point was it stated that ABR received or was granted the block.
In the July 7 article, it was categorically stated that the said block will be subject to a licensing round following the revision of Guyana’s archaic petroleum laws.
Furthermore, Kaieteur News has been, and continues to be, at the forefront of exposing all issues that could or have already affected the protection of Guyana’s wealth.
A non-partisan approach in this regard will continue to be vigorously pursued, irrespective of the baseless remarks from the likes of Phillips and others.
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