Former Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Chairman Vickram “Vic” Oditt and another man are accused of inducing a local businessman to smuggling fuel from Venezuela, by pretending that they have the relevant licences to do so.
This was revealed in court documents filed by the businessman, Augustine Jackson, after Oditt and his business partner, Pradeep Abdool, both representatives of Potaro Fuel Supplies, claimed that Jackson owed them monies.
The two were granted an interim injunction by High Court Judge Diana Insanally, preventing Jackson’s vessel MT Pollux, which is known and registered as MT Melissa J, from departing Guyana until he lodged US7,700 and .5 million, along with his passport, with the Registrar of the Supreme Court.
However, Jackson, Director of AJ Marine Inc, in an affidavit to discharge the injunction, said that in January 2016, while he was in
Guyana, he received a telephone call from Oditt, who informed him that he would like to enter into a business arrangement with him which would involve the use of his motor vessels, MT Pollux, also known as MT Melissa Jay, and MV Sno Pac, to transport and trade in fuel and fuel products from destinations in the Caribbean and South America to Guyana.
He said that he was led to believe by the duo during the negotiations that they were issued with the relevant licences to deal with, import, possess, transport and sell fuel both in Guyana, as well as, the other destinations with which they intended to trade as is required by the laws of Guyana and the laws of those States.
“However, it was only when I was preparing to sail from Port Georgetown to Trinidad that I learnt that the Applicants/Plaintiffs nor their servants or agents were possessed of the licences required by law, the Guyana Energy Agency Act, to trade in, deal with, import, possess, transport and sell fuel both in Guyana as well as the other destinations. In short, I realised that the Applicants/Plaintiffs from the inception have been, and were, inducing me into an arrangement to smuggle fuel across international borders into Guyana, a serious criminal enterprise, of which I was not prepared to be a part,” Jackson stated.
The businessman said that he was aware that not only could he be jailed if found guilty of any of the criminal offences he was likely to commit if he participated in the venture, but also his vessels would have been seized.
“I also realised that the entire transaction, including the Promissory Notes, the Partnership Agreement and the business arrangement which I had entered into are all tainted by and contaminated with serious criminal illegality,” he stated in his affidavit.
The businessman also accused Oditt and Abdool of failing to disclose to the court the Partnership Agreement because they would have been obligated to produce the requisite licences.
“Additionally, the Applicants/Plaintiffs, in their attempt to mislead and withhold information from this Honourable Court, they scrupulously, deliberately and cunningly avoided any mention whatsoever of the nature of the business which they paid these huge sums of money to me for and upon which we were going to embark,” Jackson stated.
He observed that despite the sole purpose of the business being to trade in fuel, the word “fuel” was not mentioned at all in the entire application.
The businessman wants the court to discharge the injunction on the grounds that he has 11 crew members, including six Venezuelans who are now stranded in Guyana as a result of the injunctions.
He highlighted that his vessel had the potential to earn approximately US$350,000 per month and, as such, urged the Court to quickly discharge the injunctions, as he would “suffer financial ruination” if it did not.
“There is no legal basis for the Applicants/Plaintiffs to restrain the said vessel; they have no lien or encumbrances of any kind against the said vessel,” the businessman stated.
Jackson said he was willing to remain in Guyana to defend claims by Oditt and Abdool that he owed them.
He is being represented by Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall.