Oct 29, 2020 News
– says “Kaieteur News knows more than me”
Kaieteur News – Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon, once again denied knowledge of details of the Canje and Kaieteur Oil Blocks award and subsequent transfers of interest. In doing so, the former Minister of State denied that the Ministry of the Presidency, where he served under the previous government, had anything to do with the transfers of interests in the blocks.
He fielded questions from a Kaieteur News reporter in the conference room of the Triumph, East Coast Demerara (ECD) Regional Democratic Council (RDC), following a meeting with regional councillors of the Coalition, A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change.
Harmon was reminded that he had, on multiple occasions, committed to providing information about the suspicious awards of the two valuable oil blocks. In response, he denied any further knowledge, repeating an earlier statement he had made, that Kaieteur News seems to have more information than he does.
“As I said at my last press conference, you seem to have more information than I do,” Harmon told Kaieteur News. “You are publishing it on a daily basis and I cannot go beyond that. I just rely on what I see there. The question of course is whether all of the information is credible. And as you recognise, as a political leader of the opposition, I cannot just go on something that is out there. So I would say that we will keep a close eye on the matter, and to the extent to which we can be helpful in this regard, we will let the public know.”
The politician’s trend of claiming ignorance on these matters does not bode well against his history with the Ministry of the Presidency. In the Coalition’s five-year term, Harmon had served as the Minister of State, then Director General – two key authority posts at that office.
The Ministry of the Presidency controls the Department of Energy, which has the function of awarding oil blocks and approving transfers of interests in the blocks. It was during the APNU+AFC’s terms that controversy first arose about the Kaieteur and Canje Block awards, which prompted an investigation by the now defunct State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA).
For Harmon to claim that he does not know coveted information about the transfers of stakes in those two blocks, would be for him to be ignorant of important transactions under his watch, for which the Ministry of the Presidency had oversight.
The former Minister of State sought to proffer that it was the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), which awarded the blocks. While this is so, the initial owners flipped their ownership of the blocks, transferring stakes to several other companies. There were at least five transactions under which the blocks were flipped, and they all occurred under the tenure of the APNU+AFC government. Such transfers require the approval of the government.
When Kaieteur News pointed this out, Harmon responded that, “If a transfer is made to an individual or a company, a company seeks to raise capital by putting out there, expressions of interest and so on, in their business, I don’t see how it is that the Ministry of the Presidency, where I worked, would have had any responsibility for that.”
Reminded that the government must approve of transfers of interests in oil blocks, the Opposition Leader again said that he is unaware of such matters, and abruptly ended that line of questioning.
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