I urge ExxonMobil and associates to respect and obey the Laws of Guyana

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Dear Editor,

I read an article in the Kaieteur News on November 28, 2021, titled ‘Exxon’s Consultant apologises for unauthorized use of Shyam Nokta’s signature on Yellowtail EIA’. Further, I read another article in the Stabroek News on December 7, 2021, titled ‘Nokta says apology settles unauthorized use of signature on Yellowtail document’.

The Kaieteur News article stated ‘The Consultancy firm Environmental Resources Management (ERM), contracted by ExxonMobil conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment on the Yellowtail development, has recently apologised to Shyam Nokta for using his signature on the project’s Non-Technical Summary (NTS) that was mistakenly published on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website.

The Stabroek News article stated that ‘Nokta is the founder of the Environmental Management Consultants (EMC) and is also a representative of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government since he was on the party’s list of candidates for the 2020 general and regional elections.

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It is important to note that this apology came after ‘questions were raised by Environmentalist, Simone Mangal-Joly with regard to the credibility of the document, given that it is required for an independent company to conduct the EIA.

In the letter of apology published in the Kaieteur News on November 28, 2021, and signed by one Mr. Steve Koster P.E., Senior Partner, Partner-In-Charge, Yellowtail Development Project EIA. It stated ‘The proponent for the Yellowtail Development Project submitted to and received approval from the ‘Guyana Environmental Agency (the EPA) a list of consultants to conduct the EIA. This list did not include Mr. Shyam Nokta, or his company, Environmental Management Consultants (“EMC”). In conduct of the EIA, ERM did not engage with or involve Mr. Nokta or EMC. ERM has no current relationship or engagement with Mr. Nokta or EMC to provide support to any EIA concerning the Yellowtail Development Project or otherwise’

The letter further stated, ‘It is with deep regret that Mr. Nokta’s electronic signature was inadvertently included by ERM on the cover of the version of the EIA non-technical summary for the Yellowtail Development that was posted on the EPA’s website’.

Editor, I would like to know what is the likelihood of my signature inadvertently appearing on an ExxonMobil’s corporate strategy, business strategy, communications political affairs strategy or social development strategy, and be published on a website if I was not recruited by ExxonMobil? Now, these are areas directly within which I work as a consultant, as Mr. Nokta works directly in areas of the environment. The probability of this occurrence is extremely low.

So, the consultants casually indicated, in my interpretation, ‘oh we are sorry, small thing, why the big fuss; and Mr. Nokta says Oh I don’t have a problem with my signature being used by someone else, it was a mistake, small thing’. Editor, this a very interesting development which also highlights the inequalities in our administration of justice system, generally.

I would like to take this opportunity to urge ExxonMobil, its associates, and consultants to respect and obey the laws of Guyana, also as a ‘corporate citizen’, to broaden its efforts to support the promotion of greater social and economic inclusivity in its business endeavours.

I wish that the justice administration system would be just as forgiving as Mr. Nokta and his lawyer was, to the following people: Mr. Winston Jordan, former Minister of Finance, Mr. Ketith Lowenfield, former Chief Executive of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Ms. Roxanne Myers, former Deputy Chief Elections Officer of GECOM, and the other staff and former staff members of GECOM who are implicated in legal matters; Mr. Trevor Benn, former Commissioner of Guyana Lands and Surveys, Mr. James Bond, Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Brian Tiwari, Mr. Rickford Burke, and so many others from specific groups and perceived associations.

This is also about economics and has reputational implications while Mr. Nokta and the ExxonMobil consultants get to move on to another payday with an apology, the lives and reputation of the many of the individuals mentioned above, is being destroyed which impacts on their ability to earn a living and even to exist.

I will now hand these negotiations over to the lawyers of these individuals whose names were mentioned above, as well as many others.

Yours faithfully,
Audreyanna Thomas
Rule of Law Advisor/Advocate



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