Salary deduction for Natural Resources Ministry official’s “negligence” in ExxonMobil US$214 million cost bank

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 October 2023, 19:05 by Denis Chabrol

Mr. Gopnauth ‘Bobby’ Gossai

The Ministry of Natural Resources has deducted 15 days’ pay from the salary of Senior Petroleum Coordinator, Gopnauth ‘Bobby’ Gossai after internal probe found that he engaged ExxonMobil without authorisation in the reduction of US$214 million in the cost bank of an audit of Stabroek Block expenses from 1999-2017.

The Natural Resources Ministry said he was not only fined but warned in keeping with Public Service rules because his “negligence” resulted in the entity being disgraced and severely criticised. “In this regard, and in keeping with the Public Service Rules, it was approved that the
maximum fine in the amount of 15 days’ pay be instituted against Mr. Gossai for the said offence. Additionally, in keeping with Public Service Rules a warning has been issued to Mr. Gossai,” the ministry added.

The matter came to a head in September after opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) parliamentarian David Patterson had publicly stated that the President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge had told a meeting with opposition representatives that an agreement had been reached for the cost bank to be reduced to US$3 million.

But the Natural Resources Ministry said on Thursday that, “a review of the facts emanating from the investigation has confirmed that the
discussions were never approved at any of the mandatory levels. Against this backdrop, Mr. Gossai has been disciplined in keeping with Public Service Rules for the offence of negligence.”

Mr Routledge subsequently told the media that the Ministry of Natural Resources had been the agreed “contact point” and that he had told the APNU+AFC representatives that there had been no formal agreement.

The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has since said that its working figure is US$214 million and that the audit process would not be reopened. Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo last week said most likely the dispute would be sent to arbitration.