Govt promises to punish wrongdoers at Guyoil

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…Trevor Bassoo again denies $600M kickback allegations

Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh says the government will take “condign action” if an Auditor General probe unearths any irregularity at the Guyana Oil Company Limited (GuyOil).

The minister made the statement on Friday on the sidelines of a ceremony observing the 100th anniversary of the Dharm Shala’s Home of Benevolence in Albouystown, Georgetown. “We have absolutely no tolerance in this Government for any corrupt practices, and we would, of course, be guided by the results of the audit,” Dr. Singh said.

The minister had requested an urgent audit after meeting the GuyOil Board of Directors to seek clarity on the news of a “scandal” there. Media reports have said Aaron Realty Incorporated (ARI) claimed it is left with a large quantity of fuel on hand after senior GuyOil officials allegedly made commitments to purchase the fuel. Though the dealer reportedly claims to have evidence, the Finance Minister said GuyOil executives have told him otherwise. “The Board repeatedly emphasised that there is no contract with the company in question, and that while there may have been by some parties connected to the company, or some officials connected to the company, there might have been some communication with the company, that there was no contract concluded with the company at any point in time. The Board made that very clear to me,” Dr. Singh said.

Former Guyoil GM, Trevor Bassoo

Despite these assurances, the minister said he requested a special audit of the operations. GuyOil General Manager Mr. Trevor Bassoo has since tendered his resignation to the Board and an interim sub-committee appointed to manage the company’s operations.

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Meanwhile, in response to the allegations against him Bassoo in a statement Friday evening said that his resignation is in no way connected to the matter of fuel imported by Aaron Royalty Inc and alleged kickbacks related to that transaction.
He related that on the night of Wednesday, April 14 at 20:24 pm he emailed the Board of Directors (BOD) of the Guyana Oil Company (GUYOIL) to advise that representatives of Aaron Royalty Inc. reached out to him expressing their dissatisfaction with specific officers of GUYOIL, and of their intention to go to the media to expose corruption. “In that email (a copy of which could be obtained), I also advised that I suggested to the Aaron representatives that they should reach out to GUYOIL BOD first to seek redress. I forwarded to the BOD the email that I had received from Aaron representatives,” Bassoo said.

He said on the morning of the following day, Thursday, April 15 he was called to the Charlotte Street office of the Chairman of the GUYOIL BOD, Mr. Paul Cheong, where he was handed a letter sending him on Administrative Leave. “The letter further stated that the BOD will conduct a performance review of my tenure as General manager. He informed me that the Company Secretary, Shawn Persaud, will be acting as General Manager in the interim.”

According to Bassoo in the afternoon of the following day, Friday April 16, he was invited to a meeting with the BOD to discuss his job performance. During the meeting specifics of his actual performance were not discussed, however, “I was asked to relate the matters that are of concern to me and I took the opportunity to raise with the BOD, matters that I felt required the full Board’s attention. At the same meeting, I indicated to the BOD my intention to submit my resignation in light of the recent work environment. On the evening of Monday, April 19, I tendered my resignation by email. The next morning, Tuesday, April 20 at 10:17h the Company Secretary, who was also at the time, General Manager (acting) forwarded by email two scanned documents, one of which was a letter signed by the Chairman, Paul Cheong, accepting my resignation and rescinding the letter directing me to proceed on Administrative Leave.”

“It was only after this sequence of events that stories began circulating on social media later on Tuesday, April 20. Someone, apparently deliberately, conflated the issues of my discussions with the Chairman and the BOD and the emerging matter of the dispute between Aaron Royalty Inc and GUYOIL, resulting from Aaron’s arrangements with specific officials of GUYOIL,” Bassoo said.

He said in the interest of full disclosure, “I must mention that representatives of Aaron had reached out to me before April 14 and at that time I had advised them to try and resolve the matter with the officers who had engaged them to supply fuel to GUYOIL. I reiterate that at no time did I negotiate any fuel purchases with Aaron Royalty and that my issues with the BOD and Chairman Paul Cheong never included the issue of this fuel purchase.”



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