Jun 20, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – “Everything in this country is under the table. The whole country is like that.” This is one of the many statements made during the Vice News documentary “Guyana for Sale” which premiered yesterday with Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo as the main character.
His Chinese tenant and “friend” businessman, Su Zhi Rong is heard in the interview accusing Jagdeo of allegedly accepting bribes for large developmental projects undertaken in the country. Jagdeo has denied the allegations and has since signaled that he will take legal action against the Chinese businessman and also promised to evict him from his property.
At his Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara home, the former head of state told the undercover reporter and her colleague posing as Chinese business investors that he gives his Chinese “friend” all the support needed to facilitate investment transactions and that he has no dealings with finances given his role in government. “No, no, no I’m not getting involved in business. Su is my friend. He gets all the support. Su deals with all the agreements. I don’t. The thing is that my thing is that I’m in government, so I assist from government side.”
The Vice reporter was told that Su was the man that could get her a meeting with Vice President and so he did to prove his connection with the government official, and that any money reportedly paid for bribes to the VP would indeed get to him.
When the Vice News team first met Su, he boasted about his relationship with Jagdeo and that he could secure the meeting since he has a close relationship with the government official. “If you want anything done in Guyana you have to have some connections,” he told the Vice team.
“You tell me, it should be no problem. I am very close with the Vice President and the other officials,” the documentary’s subtitle read translating Mandarin to English.
Sue described Jagdeo as his “boss.” “If we are doing business together, my boss is not going to receive money directly.” “It’s going to be a service a processing fee then he’ll share some with me,” Su stated. The reporter noted that after a few hours with some Chinese businessmen she was informed by them that if they were investing in business they could help out, “because they have really good relationships with the heads of state in this country.”
The reporter was also told that service fees charged by the middlemen are really bribes for deals. “The consulting fee is the bribe. So, they include it in the consulting fee because they don’t do any actual consulting.” An individual identified as the General Manager for China’s largest state-run construction firm also pointed out that the middlemen were very important. “With just one word we can get something done,” the Chinese businessman said.
In Su’s conversation with the Vice reporter, he claimed to have brokered among other deals, the Amalia Falls Hydro project reportedly won through the payment of a massive bribe. The VP recently told the country that the project would be sent back to tender since the Chinese company can no longer operate on the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model, but preferred the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) model.
In an earlier interview with Jagdeo, he was asked a straight question, “do you take bribes?” to which he replied, “no I don’t”. He had added that reporters come from abroad and try to make leaders of developing countries look corrupt. But Su had told the undercover reporters after the Jagdeo meeting that the executives, “hands are very clean” and Jagdeo would never admit his involvement.
Hours after the Vice documentary was released Member of Parliament and Shadow Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde called the revelations “explosive by damning”, calling out what he said appears to be, “privileges, connections and a relationship with the Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo” by Su.
“Also, the report reveals the apparent improper use of Government office to engage in lobbying.”
He said while the Government is attempting to fail the reporter in her attempt to find linkages between the Vice President and Su’s questionable dealing and arrangements, “the fact that the Vice President acknowledged his relationship with Su demonstrated by his warm welcome of the Chinese businessman and the journalist posing as his secretary and his conversation with them speaks volumes.”
Furthermore, the fact that Su can actually say the things he said about Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, is not only extremely worrying to every law- abiding citizen but has enormous potential to negatively affect the national image and reputation of Guyana. “This situation cannot be decoupled from recent international assessments about the rise in corruption in all sectors of the country since the People’s Progressive Party Civic return to government.”
The Opposition MP said it is not a question of whether Jagdeo is linked to these corrupt practices, but it is about the fact that Su can boldly implicate the Vice President. To this, the MP said the revelations want an investigation as, “no amount of denial, on the part of the Vice President and or by his government, and amount of public relations spin can remove or wash away this odious National scandal.”
“The recent unilateral appointment of The Integrity Commission and other suspicious moves of the government have compounded the institutional weaknesses of the State which facilitates such corrupt practices and arrangements whilst concomitantly disabling the State from competently respond to this scandal.”
Forde said has thus prepared an appropriate Bill to be filed and tabled in the National Assembly to suppress and eradicate lobbying. The MP called for an immediate independent investigation, and the resignation of the Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo.
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