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Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, at a hastily called press conference Tuesday night, denied that he was bribed on numerous occasions to facilitate large scale contracts with Chinese investors here.
“They will never ever find anyone…or any evidence of anyone giving me a bribe directly or indirectly because I never took a bribe,”Jagdeo said as he repeatedly maintained his innocence during the press conference held at the Arthur Chung Conference Center (ACCC).
His repeated denial came hours after Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Aubrey Norton called on the Guyana Police Force to investigate the allegations leveled against the Vice President. In a wide ranging interview with US-based Vice News, Jagdeo admitted to being a close associate to a Chinese lobbyist identified as “Su” – a man who allegedly fingered him in a corruption ring that involves the receipt of money, in other words, bribes, in return for preferential treatment and the security of contracts for Chinese investors. Su was reportedly a “middleman” acting on behalf of Chinese contractors.
Amid the allegations, Norton challenged the Vice President to match his earnings with his assets in the interest of transparency and accountability but Jagdeo, though not directly taking up the challenge, said in keeping with the Integrity Commission Act, he has continuously submitted his declaration of assets to the Integrity Commission.
“From 1999 up to 2015, the Government and Government Officials submitted every year their statements of income and assets to the Integrity Commission. If the asset far exceeds your income it would be evident and then an investigation could be triggered and then the penalty is a year imprisonment for false declaration or no declaration,” Jagdeo said.
He contended that while the APNU+AFC officials while in Government failed to make their declarations in accordance with the Act, the PPP/C officials were consistent post-2015. “It is shameful that Mr. Norton, his party having such a sordid track record, for the 28 years they have been in office nothing of that sort existed. And for the five years they were in office, three of those years, they refused to submit any statement.,” Jagdeo said.
But while Jagdeo boasted about making his declarations, the records show that he was among public officials, who failed to file their declarations with the Integrity Commission for the period July 2017-June 2018. In February 2020, the Commission had cause to publicize their names.
During the David Granger Administration Jagdeo was investigated by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) in relation to the sale of lands at Pradoville. Jagdeo said the past Administration could not have unearthed any dirt on him then and the authorities will not now, as he maintained that he is not into corrupted activities.
During the interview with the Vice News journalist, Jagdeo spoke of having foreign accounts but on Tuesday he said while he has foreign assets, he only has two local accounts.
“All the assets I have acquired have been done through the banking system so you can trace every asset that I have acquired back to the banking system, so that is for transparency,” he said.
Contending that the journalist had an anti-Chinese agenda, the Vice President said that he will not be caught up in a “cold war politics.”
“We believe in having friends everywhere; that’s why we are going to assess relationships on the basis of what is good for our people. What’s good for people, that’s what we are going to be pursuing, we don’t want to be caught up in that. We have close relationship with the United States of America and the US is a big source of investment now in Guyana but we are not going to be caught up in anti-Chinese hysteria. I made that clear in the interview,” he said.
Jagdeo said aspects of the statements attributed to “Su” are “totally accurate,” in that, he often assists friends, associates, and local and foreign investors but not for any consideration. “I help a lot of people without any consideration,” he said.
Jagdeo added: “I see a lot of companies, American companies, Canadian companies, Chinese companies, less Chinese companies actually than western companies. How do they get arrange, they contact my office, some for meeting… ”