Jagdeo knocks ExxonMobil over no conflict of interest position with AFC’s Hughes

Last Updated on Tuesday, 9 July 2024, 17:48 by Denis Chabrol

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo on Tuesday said he was unsurprised by President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge saying there was no conflict of interest between Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes and that American supermajor.

“It was no surprise that the representatives of Exxon took the position that Nigel Hughes is not in conflict with Exxon Mobil,” Mr Jagdeo told Demerara Waves Online News.

When contacted Tuesday, Mr Hughes said “I have no comment to make.”

Also the General Secretary of the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Mr Jagdeo questioned the rationale for ExxonMobil’s position, against the backdrop of Mr Hughes saying that he would not allow the quality of his legal representation to be affected by his politics. “Why would you want to get rid of the leader of a political party in Parliament who is on your payroll, who has publicly stated that he will put Exxon’s interest above that of Guyana?” said the politician.

The Vice President appeared to issue a veiled threat to the oil company which is the explorer and operator in the prolific Stabroek Block. “Exxon will hear from the Government of Guyana at the appropriate time and place on this matter,” he said.

The ExxonMobil Guyana President earlier Tuesday said there was no conflict between his oil company and Mr Hughes or his law firm, Hughes, Fields and Stoby (HFS) although Mr Hughes is now leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC) political party.

For his part, Mr Hughes had already said that, as AFC leader, he would not have anything to do with the oil and gas sector. Instead, the AFC has vested responsibility for hydrocarbons in a three-member committee comprising of David Patterson, Dr Vincent Adams and Professor Shamir Ally.

If elected to government in 2025, the AFC leader has promised to shed all ties with HFS, the law firm his father co-founded. He had said that HFS law firm partner, Attorney-at-Law Andrew Pollard is responsible for the ExxonMobil legal portfolio for more than 20 years. In government, Mr Hughes had said government would establish the Petroleum Commission.

However Mr Jagdeo had already questioned whether Mr Hughes would be abdicating his political responsibility for the sector in opposition by putting it in the hands of the committee. He had said that even if in opposition, Mr Hughes could influence policy through the AFC’s parliamentarians.