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…accuses GEA’s Mahender Sharma of an overreach of authority
President of SBF International Inc., Dorwain Bess, has written to several United States (US) State Representatives informing them of the challenges his company has faced in Guyana with the cancellation of its license by the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) to import and wholesale fuel.
The Company’s Importing Wholesale License (No. IL0029) was cancelled on or about September 14, 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — an act Bess said is shrouded in collusion and discriminatory treatment.
On September 3, 2021, a letter was sent to State Senator, Michael Rhett; Georgia State Representative, Laura Hall; South Carolina State Representative, John King; South Carolina State Representative, Annie McDaniel and Former Georgia State Representative, Dee Dawkins-Haigler.
It was carbon copied to US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch; US Congressman, Hakeem Jeffries; US Congresswoman, Joyce Beatty; US Congressman, Hank Johnson; Georgia State Representative, Billy Mitchell and Human rights activist Dr. Joseph Henry Beasley.
Recapping what took place, Bess said that he is a naturalized US citizen and an Afro-Guyanese who repatriated his talents and skills back to Guyana in 2016 to establish the petroleum importation business.
Prior to the cancellation of its license, the Company had reportedly grown its annual revenues since inception to over $24M USD in 2019. It had also contributed over GYD $2 billion in taxes to Guyana and employed over 100 permanent and 250 temporary Afro-Guyanese from the underserved communities of Linden, Belladrum, Georgetown, Eccles, and other areas in the West Demerara District.
Bess said that SBF had established itself as the only operational Afro-Guyanese fuel distributor in Guyana. The Company’s license was cancelled in relation to the allegation of an altered and expired lease for fuel storage. However, SBF International maintains that the lease in question was neither underhandedly altered nor expired.
“The cancellation of the company’s license is based on the submission of an agreed-upon extension of a previous commercial lease of our storage facility that had been altered with the consent of the Lessor, OMAI Gold Mines, LTD (OMAI). Mr. Norman McClean, the Lessor’s agent, was unavailable to sign the agreement at the time of execution and himself suggested that a company representative (Mr. Sanasie) simply alter and submit changes to the existing agreement as evidence of the intention of both parties to extend the term of the lease for another year,” Bess explained.
He also noted that there is ample proof of the same in the form of a letter submitted by Mr. Anand Sanasie, SBF’s signatory, on or about July 23, 2020. It states that there was a clear continuing “Landlord/Tenancy” relationship between the two parties in extension of the previous lease.
Furthermore, the Company President told the US Officials that Sanasie was also responsible for the oversight of the lease and signed and submitted the altered document and subsequently sent the letter to the GEA challenging the agency’s contention that the company did not have legal grounds to operate in the facility. For several months, the Lessor also continued to confirm the arrangement by accepting rental payments.
Bess said: “Since Mr. Sanasie’s defection, he has become a disgruntled former shareholder of the company and has colluded with the GEA to close down SBF’s operations. As a public agency, the GEA was obligated to conduct a fair and impartial investigation to determine the intent of the parties and the legitimacy of our company’s claim to have a legal right to occupy the property in question. However, the GEA rushed to judgment with a prejudicial mindset to prosecute rather than to establish the true merits of the matter and has turned a blind eye to the major role that Mr. Sanasie himself played in the development of the controversy.”
He said that the GEA has also made numerous attempts to serve him personally, but no attempts were made to serve Sanasie, the company as a separate legal entity, or any other appropriate officials of the company.
SBF International Inc. has since filed a lawsuit against the GEA and Sharma which is pending in the courts. Bess alleged that the process is deliberately being prolonged as Sharma had a role in the cancellation of the license.
Bess said that the sudden and improper cancellation of SBF’s license has caused severe and near irreparable harm to the company, its employees and communities. “The cancellation, in my view, is a continuing manifestation of the ongoing collusion and discriminatory practices of the Guyana Energy Agency under the leadership of its Director, Mr. Mahender Sharma,” Bess stated.
He further accused the GEA Director of imposing unreasonable restrictions on SBF’s import operations; contacting key SBF clients by telephone and letter to encourage them to discontinue business with the company, and threatening his personal freedoms by requesting arbitrary and unusually harsh pre-trial release measures to imprison him.
“Some of these arbitrary measures have been denied by the courts and SBF has been granted administrative relief by the previous administration,” Bess informed the officials.
Bess also noted that SBF’s vessels, transporting fuel to some of its biggest clients, have been confiscated by the GEA refused delivery. In this regard, the Company President explained, the GEA refused to allow fuel to be offloaded in Guyana that had been legally ordered for import while our license was still in full effect.
“As a result of the GEA’s actions, employees of our company, who are struggling to survive, have literally taken to the streets in protest. I invite your office and/or other appropriate USA officials to investigate this matter or to consult with your Guyanese counterparts about the matter. I place myself and our company employees at your complete disposal,” Bess said.