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Police called in over US$18 million signing bonus

Ramon Gaskin

Well-known political activist and commentator, Ramon Gaskin has called in the Guyana Police Force to probe the whereabouts of the interest earned on the US$18 million ExxonMobil signing bonus.

Gaskin said he wrote Police Commissioner David Ramnarine on June 11, 2018 requesting a probe because he calculated that Guyana should have earned US$270,000 interest per annum on the signing bonus.

That, Gaskin said, is much higher than the US$36,163 interest that Finance Minister, Winston Jordan had told the media in April, 2018 had been earned on the signature bonus obtained in September , 2016.

Gaskin said Thursday that so far he has not received even an acknowledgement letter from the Police Commissioner. The complainant said he was giving the top cop more time before he files private criminal charges against the Finance Minister and the Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Dr. Gobin Ganga.

FLASH BACK: Finance Minister, Winston Jordan and Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Dr. Gobind Ganga speaking on the balcony of Parliament Building.

In that way, Gaskin said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) could not reasonably strike out his charge because he would be adhering to her publicly stated advice that complaints should first be made to the police in such matters as they go to the heart of good governance.

Gaskin contends that the Finance Minister should have deposited the bonus into the consolidated fund and then seek parliamentary approval before depositing it into interest bearing accounts.

The Central Bank Governor on Thursday said neither the police nor the State Assets Recovery Unit has contacted him concerning complaints made by Gaskin and Head of the Transparency Institute of Guyana, Dr. Troy Thomas about the signature bonus.

Ganga said the US$18 million had been deposited in short-term interest-bearing accounts, -every three months- to avoid locking in the monies in long-term arrangements that could result in penalties if the deposit is withdrawn before maturity. The money, he said, first started earning interest within three months of its receipt. “In terms of the 18 million, I think not too long after we would have received that fund, we would have invested that fund in an interest-bearing instrument,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

Government is already on record as saying that whenever monies are needed to pay Guyana’s legal fees for the border controversy case at the International Court of Justice, government would transfer that specific amount to the Consolidated Fund and then seek parliamentary approval for its use.

Last month, the National Assembly approved government’s request for GY$788 million for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to pay legal and associated fees for the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy World Court case.