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Government would find difficulty denying there is no need for credible international investigation into the award of state contracts. Civil society, the A Partnership for National Unity, and the Alliance For Change have been calmouring for such an inquiry in wake of the first U.S-based VICE News report on 19th June. The report is covered and narrated by investigative journalist Isobel Yeung.
A second report, released on 7th July, dug further into what is seemingly an endemic problem with corruption in Guyana. Particularly with local government officials and Chinese businessmen in Guyana, and the Chinese authorities [government] in China with Guyanese. In the report listeners can hear for themselves how money gets moved from China to Guyana to facilitate a complex bribery network. Yeung reported, based on access and admittance from interviewees that “it does imply very much that the Beijing authorities know exactly what’s going on.”
Government officials in Guyana are accused of taking bribes as a condition for awarding state contracts. The government officials in the alleged corrupt network were not named save for Vice President (VP) Bharrat Jagdeo whose name was repeatedly called. The VP is positioned as the most influential in this category of officials. There have been mounting calls for the VP to resign or for President Irfaan Ali to request his resignation.
Chinese businessmen are admitting to Yeung of working with local government officials and private persons in moving huge sums of money to them, including the VP, to get access to big state deals. This movement which is referred to as “flying money” in Chinese would see money being transferred from China to Guyana through a network that avoids taxes and border restrictions. Both clean and dirty money moves this way to Guyana albeit using different applications the Chinese personnel informed the journalist.
Chinese businessman Su Zhirong who was/is is a tenant and friend of the VP and referred to him as his “boss” served as the middleman between the VP and VICE News team, the latter posing as Chinese business people interested in investing in Guyana. According to Zhirong’s boast his relationship with his “boss” has allowed him to secure Guyana’s prime real estates, access to Guyana’s precious minerals, and lucrative state contracts. He also informed the undercover media team that his “boss” takes money to help people get access to state resources and he, Su, could help them “for the right price.”
In an interaction, reportedly at the VP’s home, when the undercover businessman (VICE) was attempting to make a deal, the VP could be heard stiltedly saying “No, no, no I’m not getting involved in business. Su is my friend. He gets all the support. Su deals with all the agreements. I don’t. The thing is that my thing is that I’m in government, so I assist from government side.”
Su in the presence of Jagdeo interjected in his native language and informed VICE that “this is not the place to talk about the bride.” Before departing they agreed with the VP to meet again. Yeung, Su and the undercover businessman are of Chinese ancestry and apparently speak the same language.
A few months after the undercover meeting, Yeung confronted the VP as the journalist, not the undercover secretary, with the question about whether the massive influx in foreign investment is plagued by corruption and if he himself has a part to play in that. The VP’s response was “You know Guyana has attracted a lot of foreign investment recently.” Prodded further with the question “what is it Guyana has to offer,” the VP responded, “the opportunity to make money that is why people are coming here so that’s what I’m going to say.”
Yeung’s reporting raises more questions than answers.
Watch the report here:-