Jagdeo refuses to pay Alexander GY$50 million for alleged libel; IDPADA-G asks for independent auditor

Last Updated on Saturday, 3 September 2022, 13:07 by Writer

Even as Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday officially refused to pay GY$50 million in compensation to the Chairman of the International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPADA-G) Vincent Alexander for allegedly libeling him, that government-funded agency has handed over an audit report, saying it would prove that an estimated GY$500 million was not misspent.

“Our client unreservedly rejects the demands contained in your letter,” Mr Jagdeo’s lawyer, C.V. Satram, wrote to Mr Alexander’s lawyer, Eusi Anderson.

Mr Satram insisted that the IDPADA-G Chairman was listed as a “beneficial owner” in company documents signed by the Secretary of that not-for-profit company. Mr Satram said Mr Jagdeo, as Vice President, parliamentarian, General Secretary of the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and Representative of the List of candidates for his party, enjoyed the right to express fair comment.

“Moreover, my client, in his aforesaid capacities, was exercising his right to fairly comment on a matter of public importance when he made the aforesaid disclosures, proffered the comments which he did and posed the questions which he asked. Those publications of my client are therefore fair comment on a matter of public interest, which comments are grounded in facts and substance, and do not constitute any libel as alleged or at all,” Mr Satram told Mr Anderson.

Instead, Mr Satram told Mr Anderson that rather than threatening legal action Alexander should account and explain to Guyanese how IDAPADA-G spent almost GY$500,000, how many Afro-Guyanese benefitted and by what public, transparent and accountable process, if any, the eight persons listed as beneficial owners of that private limited liability company were selected.

In separate correspondence, IDPADA-G responded to the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Charles Ramson’s demand for more information and attached a copy of the latest audit report, that organisation’s Chief Executive Officer Olive Sampson has also asked for an independent auditor to be hired to examine the books for 2022 so far. “Aa further demonstration of IDPADA-G’s commitment to accountability, we are prepared, in this instance, to submit the relevant records to an independent auditor although statutorily this period is not due for an audit. We are ready to engage the appropriate government agency to mutually agree on such an independent auditor and the necessary terms of reference for the period January 1, 2022 to the present,” she said.

She said the Central Internal Audit Unit of the Ministry of Finance has already conducted a “comprehensive” audit of IDAPADAG dating January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2021. “Please note that IDPADA-G agrees and commits to accountability for every cent allocated to us from any source. Accordingly, from the inception we have been accountable,” she told Mr Ramson.