Guyana OIL: Robert Persaud threatens Jan Mangal with US$2M libel suit

Kaieteur News – Former Minister of Natural Resources, now Foreign Secretary, Robert Persaud, has threatened to sue former Presidential Advisor, Dr. Jan Mangal, over various statements he made about the signing away of the Kaieteur and Canje oil blocks in the weeks leading up to the 2015 General and Regional Elections.

Photo: Former Minister of Natural Resources- Robert Persaud (L); and Former Presidential Advisor- Dr. Jan Mangal (R).

In a 38-page document prepared by Attorney-at-Law Devindra Kissoon, Persaud reveals that he will sue for US$2M plus lawyer fees if Dr. Mangal does not immediately retract and apologise for 36 listed articles in various newspapers, public videos, and social media posts which altogether give the public the impression that Persaud intentionally signed away the Kaieteur and Canje blocks in a fraudulent and corrupt manner.

Dr. Mangal has been on the forefront of speaking out against the lack of transparency surrounding the awards. It was his words on the matter which alerted the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) to start an investigation into the matter, in 2018.

“[Mangal’s] statements,” Persaud’s lawyer said, “have impacted Mr. Persaud personally and professionally by damaging his credibility, causing much distress and damage.”

He added that Dr. Mangal’s statements impugn his client’s integrity and constitute actionable libel per se.
Seeking to clear Persaud’s name of wrongdoing, the document states that it was not he who awarded the blocks in 2015, but former President and Minister of Petroleum, Donald Ramotar.

Kissoon also noted that Global Witness, the non-governmental organization that looked into the matter, reported it found no wrongdoing on Persaud’s part.
This would make the second lawsuit to be filed in relation to the signing away of the Kaieteur and Canje blocks, next to that which was filed by Ramotar against Kaieteur News. The circumstances under which the blocks were awarded has gotten international attention, including when Global Witness reported on this matter and pointed to Persaud as a person of interest. While the NGO said it found no wrongdoing on Persaud’s part, it suggested that investigators look in his direction if they wanted answers.

The People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C)’s Donald Ramotar administration had awarded the blocks just before the elections, as well as before ExxonMobil’s announcement of its first oil discovery in the Stabroek Block. It has been over a year since former government officials, including Ramotar and Persaud, were questioned by Kaieteur News about their involvement in the signing away of the oil blocks to companies who appeared not to have sufficient track records or wherewithal to conduct deepwater drilling activity in those blocks.

The Kaieteur Block was awarded to Ratio Energy and Ratio Guyana on April 28, 2015. Those companies did no work on the blocks, but have instead sold stakes to other companies. Presently, the Block is owned by four companies: ExxonMobil (Operator – 35 percent), Hess (15 percent), Ratio Guyana (25 percent) and Cataleya (25 percent).

The Canje Block was awarded to Mid-Atlantic Oil and Gas on March 4, 2015. JHI Associates farmed in shortly after. Those companies did no work on the Block. JHI only claimed that it purchased data on the Canje Block after it farmed in. Presently, the block is owned by four companies: ExxonMobil (Operator – 35 percent), Total (35 percent), Mid-Atlantic (12.5 percent) and JHI Associates (17.5 percent).

Kaieteur News has demonstrated how the circumstances of the awards raise several major corruption red flags to look out for in awards in the global extractives industry, according to the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI).

Kaieteur News reached out to Dr. Mangal yesterday, who opted not to comment at the time.

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Comments

  • Dennis Albert  On October 8, 2020 at 10:47 pm

    But it’s perfectly fine to pay Mercury to label former President David Granger as a sanctimonious gangster and accuse Mingo of rigging? This is the beginning of the Saudi Arabian dictatorship on the continent.

  • Voice of Reason  On October 9, 2020 at 10:04 am

    No amount of lawsuits will allow people to UNREAD what they’ve already read. Save your money Mr. Persaud as your reputation is already tarnished. The only beneficiary here will be your lawyer.

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