International Lawyer, Melinda Janki, has called on the President of the World Bank, Mr. David Malpass, to immediately investigate all contracts that fall under the US$20M Guyana Petroleum Resource Governance and Management Project.
Her appeal to the World Bank President is premised on the fact that at least two ExxonMobil linked consultants were able to grab projects that will determine what laws and policies Guyana will use to regulate ExxonMobil and other major oil and gas companies.
Expounding on one of these two cases, Janki noted that ExxonMobil, with the blessings of certain World Bank officials , have hired a law firm, Hunton Andrews Kurth, to draft legislation and policies for Guyana’s petroleum sector. This very company, however, has been representing ExxonMobil for 40 years. As such, Janki believes that this matter represents a clear conflict of interest as well as a violation of the bank’s procurement rules.
In her letter, which was endorsed by other local transparency advocates, the lawyer said, “We therefore request that you immediately order a full independent investigation of the Guyana Project and the issues raised in this letter; halt the Guyana Project including stopping all disbursements and work; and inform the unconstitutional de facto administration in Guyana that the Guyana Project has been halted.”
The lawyer further noted that Guyana held elections on March 2, 2020 and since then, the results have not been declared. Janki also noted that in her opinion, Guyana has no legitimate government while alluding to the many delay tactics that have been employed by certain forces to keep the APNU+AFC party in power. On such grounds, she asked that the World Bank does not permit the unconstitutional APNU/AFC administration to present itself as the legitimate government of Guyana during the World Bank Spring Meetings or at any other time.
GERMAN NGO AGREES
Janki’s appeal to the World Bank President is also in unison with similar concerns that were recently raised by a German Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Urgewald. Just a few days ago, Urgewald wrote to the World Bank asking its Directors for an investigation as well as the suspension of funds disbursed under the US$20M Guyana Petroleum Resource Governance and Management Project due to issues of conflict of interest and procurement rules violation.
Urgewald, like Janki, had raised the contract issue to the Exxon-linked law firm as a point of worry. It also pointed out to the World Bank directors that in 2019, the coalition administration had announced that an oil consultant, Mr. Michael Warner, was hired to finish the drafting of the new Local Content Policy which would apply to new oil projects’ requirements surrounding the participation of Guyanese labour, services, and goods. Urgewald was keen to note however that Mr. Warner is the same contractor who was hired and paid by ExxonMobil to run the oil giant’s Local Content Centre for Development on South Road, Georgetown for several months.
In light of this, it called for the immediate intervention by the World Bank’s Directors to ensure that Guyana’s efforts at good governance are not being undermined.
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