Aug 12, 2022 News
By Zena Henry
Kaieteur News – Auditor General (AG) Deodat Sharma has highlighted that citizens concerned with the unsettling allegations of Chinese businessman Zhi Rong Su who has accused members of the government particularly, Vice President (VP) Bharrat Jagdeo of illegal activities as a State official, must write a letter to the independent office requesting an investigation into the matter.
The Auditor General in an interview with this newspaper yesterday said that he does have the power to probe public officials involved in illegal matters where State assets are concerned, but they must make a written request to have the office look into the matter.
Speaking specifically to the Jagdeo/ Su matter, the AG said that he has not really followed the matter except for what has been written in the newspapers, “but nobody has written to me saying it is a concern as such.” He informed that if an investigation is to be done, “I do not just go in and investigate every single thing. They might say… they bought x, y and z, kindly have an investigation into this part of it.” As such, Sharma highlighted that the AG’s office will then take the steps to see what the particular matter concerns. He added therefore that the law, which governs his office, gives him the authority to look into the private accounts of persons.
“The act though does give me permission to go into people’s bank accounts and others, but I will have to make a case to the magistrate if it’s a private citizen.” When asked about a public official and whether the same is required, that State auditor replied in the negative. He reiterated that the AG’s office does have the power to make the checks on a private person and a public official, but reminded that if he had to go into private bank accounts; “providing that I feel its government funds, then I will have to get a warrant from the court.”
As it relates to State assets, such as mining concessions from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) for example, Sharma said that he is the auditor for the GGMC, “so any assets giving out, we can audit those.” As it relates to State assets received by Su from the current government, Sharma repeated; “I am not preview to all the information, and I can’t just read it in the newspaper, if I get the facts, then yes.” He charged however that the main thing where these allegations are concerned is for the affected citizens to make the written submission and seek the office’s intervention.
In an invited comment, Attorney and Chartered accountant, Christopher Ram had argued 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, which he now has in light of his claim of paying brides. Ram had explained that the Auditor General’s office could play a major role in getting to the bottom of the matter since, “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 (Su) came to being awarded such valuable resources and the instrumentality through which he obtained them.” He opined 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 Attorney and transparency advocate submitted however that he is unsure how things would go down 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 said in an undercover VICE News report that broke weeks ago, that they would be worried if Guyana was not corrupt. Su had said that he collected bribes on behalf of Jagdeo, while the other Chinese nationals spoke among other things, about an intricate money laundering ring that allowed for illegal money to move in and out of the country.
The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission records specified 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, construction and other industries. Su was said to be the Vice President’s “friend and tenant”. The Vice President is now suing him for $50M compensation relating to “defamatory and slanderous” statements.
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