Aug 02, 2022 News
…Ram says answers needed about businessman’s accumulation of State assets
Kaieteur News – There are many outstanding questions regarding the People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s (PPP/C) relationship with embattled Chinese businessman Zhi Rong Su.
Under the administration, the naturalised Chinese national has amassed significant portions of mineral-rich land in various regions across Guyana and has also been able to develop other businesses within the lucrative fuel, construction and logging industries.
Su has however claimed in a recent undercover Vice News report that access to his wealth has come as a result of bribing public officials with Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo being at the centre of the claims as the top government official he works for and collects bribes on his behalf. While Jagdeo and the government have denied Su’s claim and the Vice President also filing a libel suit against the Chinese businessman, prominent individuals, civil society, anti-corruption/transparency groups and other stakeholders have been calling for an investigation into the damning revelations. Despite President Irfaan Ali and the VP agreeing that there should be a probe into the allegations, there has been no effort or public commitment to have the matter addressed.
In an invited comment, transparency advocate and prominent figure Christopher Ram has maintained that there are serious questions that must be asked with regard to the utterances of Zhi Rong Su and more importantly, how he accumulated the wealth he now has in light of his claim of paying brides.
To that, Ram said that the audit general’s office could play a role. The accountant and attorney-at-law told Kaieteur News that, “the audit act does allow the auditor general to conduct special audits and prepare special reports.” In relation to Su, Ram said that, “there are serious questions to be answered on how he came to being awarded such valuable resources and the instrumentality through which he obtained them.” He suggested to the newspaper that, “It is very unlikely that without assistance from some quarters, that Mr. Su would have benefitted to the State’s largesse for so long.”
The Auditor General could use the independence of his office to launch the special checks into the allegations regarding State assets and how the foreign national managed to amass his wealth but that would mean a direct check into the actions of the executive. Ram said, “I am not sure that this will go down well with the executive since this could be seen as an investigation into the allegations against the Vice President and the executive as a whole.”
Other Chinese nationals have confirmed Su’s claim of paying bribes for government work and that Guyanese business is done under the table. In the Vice News video, the nationals unknowingly told the reporters pretending to be investors that the government has several projects and that they could pick their area of investment and be awarded what they need once they paid a “consultation fee” which was really highlighted as the Vice President’s compensation for facilitating their business.
One Chinese national said on the video that he would be worried if Guyana was not corrupt. Some of the nationals who are already active in business here even told the undercover reporters that Su is the go to man to get them connected with the government’s top brass. They even showed the reporter how they were facilitating the activities by getting bribery funds and cash for illegal purposes in and out of the country, suggesting a comprehensive money laundering ring in play.
After making contact with the tycoon, Su was able to take the undercover reporters into Jagdeo’s home where they discussed the potential of them getting business in the country. The news team sought to get the VP to talk about collecting the bribe but the former head of state refused to engage stating that he was in government and could not. He nonetheless assured the potential investors that, “Su gets all the support he needs.”
Jagdeo himself has confirmed that Su is his friend and also a tenant at his private residence when later confronted by the Vice News team with the information they had gathered. The Vice President has expressed bewilderment at the claims by Su, suggesting that he has no idea why the foreign national would make such claims against him. Su has nonetheless been missing for months now after issuing a press statement denying his utterances against the Vice President to Vice News. The VP nonetheless wants $50M compensation from Su for the “defamatory and slanderous” statements he made about him.
Guyana Geology and Mines Commission records specify that Su has 10 active mining permits in his name and it covers some 12,000 acres of diamond and precious stone rich land that were issued to him, in his name, on June 3, 2014, within the Northwest, Region One and Cuyuni, Region Seven. He is said to have thousands of acres more in land concessions under different business names that also facilitate his activities in fuel and other industries.
A photograph of then Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, under the then David Granger –led administration, in the company of said Su Zhi Rong and his associate Chu Hong Bo with others onboard a private jet during a trip to China in 2016, had also raised many questions as to the coziness of both governments with the Chinese businessmen.
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