Jagdeo defends purchases from Ahmad, tax-waivers

Written by Demerara Waves
Sunday, 21 August 2011

                                       President Bharrat Jagdeo

President Bharrat Jagdeo’s office has defended sourcing 29 tons of building materials from his friend, New York realtor Ed Ahmad, who has been indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigators for fraud.

“It is widely known and established that Mr. Ahmad is a businessman.  The shipment was of goods bought by the president for his personal use and consigned to the president,” the Office of the President said in a statement. 

As reported here on Friday, Ahmad has been an indicted by the FBI in a mortgage fraud scheme in which he and others fraudulently obtained more than $50 million in loans, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said Friday.

No mention was made of the cost of the items. Jagdeo, who leaves office before year-ned after serving two terms, is building a private mansion at Sparendaam village, East Coast Demerara near the Atlantic coast.

The Office of the President also assured that Jagdeo has not evaded taxes on the importation of the materials, saying that he is entitled to waivers as president. “Also already established was the fact that the waiver on the taxes due was based on an act of parliament enacted before president Jagdeo’s tenure and available to all the executive presidents of Guyana,” according to the statement.

Concerns had been raised in some quarters about whether Jagdeo has paid customs duties and taxes on the items imported.

The President’s office also restated that Jagdeo and Ahmad have been friends for about 15 years but the Guyanese leader would at the same time not tolerate law-breaking or deny him.

“I know this gentleman a long time, about 15 years now, I know many other people… if Ed Ahmad breaks the law in New York then he must face the consequences, and I cannot deny knowing somebody, I know him very well…

I know this gentleman, and I have considered him all these years as a friend but, if he does anything illegal it does not mean that I will condone this, no I will not condone it,” the president has said.

The governing Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) has denied that Ahmad has helped finance its 2011 general election campaign.

Ahmad, a former member of the Guyana Police Force, now owns a hardware store located at the Industrial Site premises that once housed the operations of the PPP-aligned Mirror Newspaper.

He has been also sold several acres of land at Leonora, West Coast Demerara that once belonged to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuco).

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