Dec 05, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – Questioned yesterday on when Guyana can see an international probe launched into the Kaieteur and Canje oil block giveaways, President Irfaan Ali, told Kaieteur News that he would not comment on the issue, as his ‘ministers’ have already addressed the issue.
Ali’s comments on the sidelines of an event at the Arthur Chung Conference Center come on the heels of bipartisan calls for an international probe into the giveaway of the lucrative oil blocks.
While President Ali deferred to his ‘ministers,’ the reader should note that Guyana’s Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat, has never once addressed issues relating to the award of the Kaieteur and Canje oil blocks. In fact, only the Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo, has been vocal on the topic. And, it should be noted that Jagdeo is technically not a ‘minister.’
The Vice President had recently stated that he does not believe that the there was any corruption in the award, nor were any laws broken.
Back in 2019, when Kaieteur News had chronicled extensively how the award of the two lucrative blocks raised a number of red flags, Jagdeo, then Opposition Leader, had stated that an independent probe would receive his support.
But his tact changed this year, as at a recent press conference, he refused to commit to a probe, only stating that he requested documents be prepared on the matter.
On the other side of the political aisle, former Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman called for an international probe into the blocks by an independent international firm, echoing recommendations by anti-corruption watchdog, Global Witness. His position was also bolstered by that of former State Minister, now Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon.
While the blocks were awarded by the then Donald Ramotar administration, the former APNU+AFC regime that Trotman served under is believed to have ignored key red flags, when it approved the transfer of stakes.
In a series titled ‘The Fleecing of Guyana,’ Kaieteur News exposed some of the red flags in the Canje and Kaieteur oil blocks agreements. The Canje Block was awarded by the Donald Ramotar administration on March 4, 2015, days before the elections, to local company, Mid-Atlantic Oil & Gas.
The Kaieteur Block was awarded on April 28, 2015 – just two weeks before the elections – and like Canje – on the advice of former Minister of Natural Resources, Robert Persaud. Two companies received the block with 50-50 stakes – Ratio Energy Limited (now Cataleya Energy Limited) and Ratio Guyana Limited.
The red flags which have manifested in both situations include that the awards were given to unqualified companies, that the initial owners quickly flipped the blocks without doing any work, that they are incorporated in secrecy jurisdictions, and that Guyana likely lost revenue due to the avoidance of an open, competitive bidding process.
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