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Opposition Leader flags suspicious aspects of Mr. Jagdeo’s interactions with foreign journalist

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 June 2022, 10:15 by Writer

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton on Monday highlighted several aspects of Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo’s interaction with a foreign journalist that raise serious questions about his alleged role in business dealings with his friend and tenant, Su Zhi Rong.

“Why is it this wasn’t done in the government office that is the official office? Why is it done in the home of the disgraced Vice President,” Mr. Norton told a news conference.

Mr Su, who is a Guyana-based businessman, was reported as alleging in the United States-based Vice News feature that he conducts the financial aspects of business deals and Mr. Jagdeo splits the proceeds with him.

Mr. Jagdeo has again denied being part of such a scheme, after the Vice News journalists posing as Chinese investors, entered his seaside mansion at Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara and recorded him secretly saying that “I’m not getting involved in business. Su is my friend. He gets all the support. Su deals with all the agreements. I don’t, I don’t. The thing is that, my thing is that I’m in government so I assist from government side. That’s it.”

But Mr Norton charged that the Vice President’s utterance and location amounted to acts of alleged bad governance.

“Why should the Vice President be telling an investor – ‘I ain’t going to make the deal; somebody else will’… and reassure them of government support’. That signals to me that it’s an abuse of power, it’s a misuse of power and it’s an exercise of power outside the confines of the law,” he said.

The Opposition Leader sought to interpret Mr. Jagdeo’s utterances and body language in a particular aspect of the extended interview by the Vice News journalist who asked him generally about corruption and specifically about his ties to Mr. Su. “When he was asked first about bribery and corruption, he said ‘no’ and he was fluent all the time and then when the journalist said ‘I want to deal with a specific case: do you know Su?’, he stuttered. He had to regain his composure before he arrived at whatever point he would have arrived at. If you look at it, he was clearly caught off-guard and didn’t expect it to come and, therefore, wasn’t prepared to answer it,” he said.

According to Mr, Norton, the opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) would hold public meetings and possibly file a motion in the National Assembly to pressure government into holding a Commission of Inquiry into alleged corruption in the award of contracts and resources.

Mr. Jagdeo has since accused Mr. Su of tarnishing his character and extorting investors by using his name, alleged acts that he said could possibly lead to criminal or civil action. Mr. Su also faces eviction from Mr. Jagdeo’s property.

Investors in Guyana, he said, do not have to pay any government official bribes to get deals done in their favour.