After the opening up of the economy with the Economic Recovery Programme of President Desmond Hoyte and adopted by President Cheddi Jagan and subsequent PPP presidents, many overseas-based Guyanese came home, invested and found spectacular success.
One such person made it very big. He is quite known in business circles and to both the PPP and PNC leadership.
One day he said to me that he would like to have lunch with me and David Hinds. He said David and him went to primary school and his siblings and David’s were good childhood friends. He was proud that David, his fellow villager made a big name for himself in his country.
He asked me to arrange with David to have the rendezvous since he knows David and I hang out whenever David is in Guyana. For three years now that request is being made of me but each time I bring it up with David, he would say yes but he leaves Guyana without it happening.
Last week, I told David that he should make time on his current trip home to have the lunch.
So it finally came off last Saturday at the spanking home of this socialite. David invited another member of the childhood gang. The three old time friends feasted on goat curry and baked pork with El Dorado and coconut water. I had the same except the rum. Our host’s wife decided to join us.
If you have David Hinds and me for lunch then politics has to dominate the conversation. Politics and rum are an explosive combination. We dissected every aspect of politics from the time our host made his money to the current no-confidence imbroglio.
Rum was flowing and I decided that the smell of it was hurting my head so I left and went in the living room to read an interesting magazine on Trinidad where all advertisement on every conceivable thing carried white faces. Then I realized that in this repugnant situation Guyana was not alone.
The guest and his host and his wife insisted that I rejoin the lunch table. I was virtually harassed to return. Then our host turned to David and said, “I know what will get Freddie’s interest.” He went upstairs and came down with a file in his hand. What he showed us left David and me, a white shade of pale.
Last year, he sold a piece of land to one of Guyana’s richest tycoons who made massive wealth under the Jagdeo presidency and today is stupendously rich. One of Guyana’s eminent banks did the transaction where our host was paid a foreign exchange manager’s cheque for half a million American dollars.
He left with his wife for the US where he deposited the check into his account at Citi Bank. One week later, one of his wife’s credit cards was rejected by the machine while shopping. They then tried all their cards and all were invalid.
He went to Citi Bank. The bank told him to sit and wait. Then the FBI came up and requested that he answer some question.
The FBI told him that bank fraud is a federal offence and that his manager’s cheque from Guyana was bogus. He insisted it could not be; it was issued by one of Guyana’s leading banks with respectable relationships and connections with some of the world’s leading financial houses.
The FBI allowed him to make contact with Guyana through his lawyer, a senior counsel.
On his return to Guyana, the US Embassy brought him in for questioning. The businessman and the senior counsel received an apology from the bank which restored the half a million American dollars into his account. They explained that a senior manager and four employees were dismissed because they engaged in a criminal offence.
What is not known is if the bank called in the police on the dishonest businessman or if the US Embassy summoned him for questioning.
Now here is the part of this situation that you will find disturbing. The host’s wife got up and addressed David Hinds. She named a very powerfully placed, senior figure in the current government that is a very close friend of this dishonest businessman.
She told David, “In the US, we live down the road from him.” She said this senior government man is a frequent visitor to the man who tried to defraud her husband. She told David that she saw him on a recent trip to the US, in the company of the daughter and son-in-law of the businessman.
David now has the identity of this big wig. He should tell President Granger who the guy is.
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