Less than one day after government announced that the Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington has been sent on administrative leave after a forensic audit, sources close to him say he had already proceeded on leave.
Well-placed sources indicate that hours after holding a news conference to react to claims in a draft audit report by forensic auditor, Anand Goolsarran, the Head of the NICIL proceeded on two months leave.
Brassington was, however, expected to return to work on January 23 and his Deputy, Marcia Nadir-Sharma was due to return during the first week of January.
But a Finance Ministry source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Brassington was unlikely to return to his desk when his current leave expires and so he would likely continue being off the job.
NICIL and Finance Ministry sources say that the Finance Minister, Winston Jordan and the Chairman of NICIL’s Board, Dr. Maurice Odle knew all along that Brassington was due to proceed on leave on Monday, December 21, 2015 but opted to stay until Tuesday to address a slew of allegations raised in the draft audit.
Government announced earlier Wednesday that Brassington and Nadir were sent on administrative leave to facilitate a deeper probe by the Auditor General’s Office, after seeing the revelations by the forensic auditor. “In cabinets view there is sufficient information provide in the report to the agencies for them to explore further and basically for them to dig deeper…Cabinet is not saying who should be charged and if anybody should be charged,” he stated.
A copy of the Goolsarran Forensic Audit has been sent to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) of the Guyana Police Force.
Brassington has criticized the Forensic Audit, saying that it contained several loopholes such as the failure by Goolsarran to point out specifically the laws that had been allegedly violated and his failure to take into consideration the several legal advice that NICIL had obtained from the five top law firms in Guyana.
The NICIL Chief Executive Officer is also banking on audits by the Auditor General’s Office that have given the company a clean bill of health for several years.
Brassington on Monday afternoon denied any wrongdoing and instead accused a forensic auditor, Goolsarran of divulging contents of the draft report without giving the company’s principal’s an opportunity to comment.
“As far as I know I have not broken any laws and if Mr. Goolsarran is suggesting it then I believe I have a clear defence on why what we did was properly done and we should not be held responsible,” he said.
Brassington said the only way the allegations could be settled was if they were taken to court and that he was willing to take the witness stand.
“I am willing to testify but you can’t bring a charge up on the basis of a law that has been clearly contradicted by all the lawyers and there is no evidence of it being broken,” he said.