Last Updated on Thursday, 27 July 2023, 19:03 by Denis Chabrol
General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday said his political organisation might have received funds from the Mohameds who have been named as subjects of a United States (US) investigation into transnational crimes, but Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Aubrey Norton opted to account only for his tenure.
“They may have received. I think may have received but I don’t think it is any different but on any scale that is different from anyone else,” he said when asked by Demerara Waves Online News. He added that large donations are provided to the PPP but none of them has included the Mohameds. “Big sums or bigger sums will come to me and I’ve never heard the Mohameds name mentioned in a bigger sum,” he said.
Mr Jagdeo said the PPP has not asked or expected money from the Mohammeds and previous donations did not “buy them special privileges” from the party or government.
While the PPP was not currently accepting donations, he did say whether his party would again take funds again from those businessmen. “I’ll decide at that time,” he said. Mr Jagdeo, however, stated that if the US government provides information about those businessmen to the Guyana government other steps would be taken but he did not provide details. “If we receive that notification, then everything else follows,” he said.
Pointing out that he does not collect money, as PPP General Secretary, he said the process includes the provision of a receipt.
Without reference to the Mohameds, who Mr Jagdeo said have not been officially implicated in any illegal activity in US communication to the Guyana government, the PPP General Secretary restated that campaign financiers should not expect political favours in return. “If anyone donates to the PPP with the hope that they can do- and I’m no0t saying this about the Mohameds-that they can do something illegal and then bypass the system or get a free pass, they’re sadly mistaken,” he said.
Mr Nazar “Shell” Mohamed and his son, Azruddin Mohamed have since denied a Reuters news agency report that quotes unidentified intelligence reports that state that the US is investigating them for alleged money laundering, drug trafficking and gold smuggling. The Mohameds have called on Reuters to provide proof.
Reuters said if the US imposes sanctions on the Mohameds, ExxonMobil would be prohibited from doing business with them and that could jeopardise a US$300 million shorebase being built in West Demerara for that American supermajor’s use.
At a news conference held earlier Thursday, Mr Norton declined to say whether the PNCR had refused donations from the Mohameds before he was voted in as Leader of the party in December 2021. “I can only speak about my tenure and I can say to you during my tenure I know of nothing…I can say without fear of contradiction that we are not financed by any Mohameds,” he said. Mr Norton, at the same, said such a matter was the PNCR’s “internal business” which he would not discuss at news conference.
Asked whether he would take money from the Mohameds in future, the PNCR Leader said, “I would not comment on that.” He restated that, “at present we have not taken any money from any Mohameds and who we take from in the future is not a question I would want to answer.”
Generally, the PNCR Leader indicated that it was not wise to name party financiers as they risk being punished by the government in areas such as the award of contracts.
Outgoing City Mayor Ubraj Narine and former PNCR parliamentarian James Bond had defended the Mohameds image and integrity on the grounds that the Reuters news agency report quoted unnamed sources.