After noting the numerous business interests of its Special Assistant, Eric Phillips, head of the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA), Professor Clive Thomas, informed Phillips that his entrepreneurial ventures represent a serious conflict of interest and could even harm ongoing investigations.
In light of this, Phillips tendered a letter of resignation. In a missive to the media, Phillips, whose business interests span the financial services and fisheries industries, said he believes parting ways with SARA is the best solution.
He said that it will protect SARA’s investigation into the award of two oil blocks offshore Guyana by former President, Donald Ramotar, just days before he lost the 2015 General and Regional elections.
Since his appointment to SARA in 2017, Phillips and Presidential Advisor on the Environment, Gary Best, have established several companies, one of which is specifically geared to serving the pharmaceuticals industry.
According to the Certificate of Incorporation, Superior Pharmaceutical Company (Guyana) Inc. was incorporated on March 8, 2019. The following persons were appointed as directors: Gary Best, Eric Phillips, Shabakie Fernandes, Philip Springer and Shaun Alicock.
According to the document seen by Kaieteur News, it notes that no director has ceased to hold office.
On March 8, 2019, as well, Best and Phillips formed another company called the Equity Centre (Guyana) Inc. The other director for this firm is Shaun Allicock. The purpose of this business is to carry out financial services or any other business which may profitably and usefully be connected to its purpose.
The third company formed by Phillips and his associates is Entec Capital (Guyana) Inc. It was incorporated on December 6, 2018. The directors listed on the Certificate are Gary Best, Philip Springer, Edmond Grant and Phillips.
Phillips appears to also have an interest in the fisheries business. On January 23, 2017, the former SARA official and five other persons formed Coastal Fishermen and Marine Services Inc. The directors listed are Relrick Wilkinson, Godfrey Scott, Allison Butters-Grant (deceased), Lelon Saul, Robert Forrester and Phillips.
At the State Asset Recovery Agency, Phillips was in charge of a number of crucial projects, including being placed as the lead investigator into the award of two oil blocks offshore Guyana by former President, Donald Ramotar.
However, Phillips came under heavy criticism after it came to light that he is party to a pending application for an oil block that is in ultra deep waters. The offshore concession is referred to as Block C.
According to documents from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Phillips, who also has no track record in oil exploration, is listed as one of the beneficial owners of a company called ABR Oil and Gas Exploration that has applied for a license to explore the block that is adjoining to the Kaieteur and Canje blocks.
Phillips claimed, however, that he left ABR last year. He was still a member of SARA at that time.
Furthermore, the application for the license lists two individuals as ABR’s technical experts: Patrick Assad Ceres, who is an environmental engineer, and Aisha Jean-Baptiste, a geologist. Jean-Baptiste is the daughter of Violet Smith.
The applicants noted that they have US$5M at present to expend on operations under the license being applied for. These would include gathering geo-scientific data, its subsequent assessment along with purchasing of additional data, identification of potential targets and drilling of prospects.
They further noted that the company is Guyanese-owned and they intend to utilize Guyanese petroleum engineers and Geologists in its work should the license be granted.
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