$200M frozen…Ramotar Cabinet moves $$$ millions from BoG to private bank

$200M frozen…Ramotar Cabinet moves $$$ millions from BoG to private bank

Irfaan Ali

Irfaan Ali

June 14, 2015 | By The Ministry of Communities has launched a major investigation into the operations of the government-run Scrap Metal Unit and a bank account containing almost $200M that was under the control of the former Minister, Irfaan Ali.

The unit, once controlled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Commerce, was placed under Ministry of Housing during the tenure of the previous administration. It was tasked with collecting fees and monitoring the scrap metal industry.
It is how that unit ended up under the control of former Minister Irfaan Ali and a senior staffer, Taslim Baksh that has the new Government perplexed and extremely curious.  

Confirming that something is happening with the unit, Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Keith Scott, on Friday disclosed that investigations are underway along with an audit into the unit’s bank account which contained millions. Scott has responsibility for the housing sector.

“I found it weird that the former Cabinet removed the Scrap Metal Unit from another Ministry and placed it, under strange circumstances, under the authority of the Minister and one other person. We are investigating this and a number of other things that appear irregular like the operations of the bank account.  We are talking about a very large sum of the taxpayers’ monies.”
Scott, who did not want to say much, said that he has instructed a local commercial bank to freeze the account and not allow any withdrawals or payments. The signatories to the account are also being changed.

Minister in charge of Housing, Keith Scott

Housing Minister Keith Scott

“We are hoping for a new Board of Directors to be in place at the CH&PA by the end of the month so that we can have a better handle on the situation.”

Kaieteur News was told from other sources that in December 2012, the Donald Ramotar Cabinet gave instructions for the Scrap Metal Unit to be placed under Ali’s charge.
The instructions were signed by former Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon.

While under the direct control of Ali, the unit’s daily operations were left to CH&PA Director of Finance, Taslim Baksh.
Baksh, in addition to his salary at CH&PA, was supposed to receive a ‘stipend’. The unit was allowed to purchase pickups and pay other expenses and use staffers from CH&PA.
What was strange about the Cabinet’s decision was that it also authorized the transfer of the bank account of the Scrap Metal Unit from Bank of Guyana to a private commercial bank. It was highly unusual for this to be done, an official close to the investigations said.

Reportedly, when the new Government took office last month, the “private” account surfaced. It contained more than $190M.
The scrap metal trade had been under the jurisdiction of former Prime Minister, Sam Hinds,
but alleged irregularities into the trade saw it being halted after utilities companies and other stakeholders

CH&PA’s Director of Finance, Taslim Baksh

CH&PA’s Director of Finance, Taslim Baksh

complained that copper was being stolen from telephone cables.
The Scrap Metal Unit had come into existence to address the concerns of Government.
It was collecting up to $35,000 to $60,000 for 20-foot and 40-foot containers being exported by scrap metal dealers. Almost 25 dealers across the country are involved in the trade with some of them shipping scores of containers monthly.
The payment of the fee was critical for the processing of Customs export documents.

According to Scott, who did not want to disclose too many details, auditors will be zeroing in on the spending of that “private” bank account.
Under current arrangements, dealers have to visit CH&PA to pay the fees.  He said that an audit is also set to start into the accounts of the CH&PA.

Not many staffers were said to be aware of the workings of the unit which fell directly under the control of the former Minister and Baksh, the Director of Finance.
On Thursday, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, disclosed that investigations are underway into several “private” bank accounts belonging to the state that should have been under the control of Bank of Guyana.

Harmon made it clear that any wrongdoings unearthed during the investigations will result in criminal charges.
Several audits are underway in a number of Government agencies including the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the Guyana Gold Board and the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
The coalition, which was in opposition until a month ago when it won a close victory in the May 11 General Elections had vowed to examine several accounts which had billions and which were not being deposited into the central government account- the Consolidated Fund.

Rather, the monies were controlled by the previous administration and spent without oversight of the National Assembly. Spending from the Consolidated Fund has to be authorized by the National Assembly.

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Comments

  • De Castro  On June 16, 2015 at 3:00 am

    Who are the appointed auditors “government or outside contractors” ?

    Just asking !😈

    • BenK  On June 16, 2015 at 4:54 am

      I believe it would make sense to get auditors from the UK, or Canada to do the investigations, so not to have anyone or group making accusations, about planting evidence etc.

    • BenK  On June 17, 2015 at 6:21 am

      Money was transferred to a private bank. Does anyone know what or where is this private bank ?? Thanks.

      • de castro  On June 17, 2015 at 9:37 am

        Suspect it could be UBS the money laundering bank of swiss.
        It was also Hitler s bank. Think they are withholding LFSB funds from his daughters in uk now….also most of the Jews money as there is no death certificates…..not sure if LFSB made a will…..thought he would live forever.

        Jokingly 😀😁😂😇

  • PFG  On June 16, 2015 at 4:19 am

    All the PPP members should be checked when they are leaving the country to see how much money they are taking with them.

  • Joanne  On June 16, 2015 at 10:29 am

    PFG…they should not be allowed to leave the country until all investigations are completed.

  • Deen  On June 16, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Based on all the apparent irregularities, I suspect many quite a few of these guys were involved in clandestine activities. A full investigation probably show many of them were feathering their nests. Basically, a check into their earnings and assets, including hidden assets, will show if there were questionable activities.
    Many devotees of the PPP parties rationalize that there is bribery and corruption in all governments, but Guyana with a small population of less tha a million people, obviously shows that the incidence of bribery, corruption and crime is comparatively very high. Rationalization never justifies criminal activities.

  • goodluck34  On June 16, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Any misconduct unearted should be dealt witrh the full force of the LAW.

    I close my case.

    Adolphus.

  • Restorer  On June 17, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. For high level cases, such as NICIL, independent expatriate auditors are needed. for smaller cases qualified local technocrats should be utilised. Let us all remember that what goes around, comes around. Today for you, tomorrow for me. I would like us to recoup all we can for the benefit of the nation’s children, but our motive should not be to jail people left right and centre.

  • de castro  On June 22, 2015 at 9:42 am

    Correct……but do think that the punishment should fit the crime.
    Once proven guilty even suspended jail sentences are acceptable.
    The conviction remains on record forever. Justice done.

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