-Fmr Natural Resources Minister still silent
Former Secretary to the Guyana Gold Board (GGB), Bobby Gossai Jr has described as “misleading” the final report of a Forensic Audit into the operations of the GGB as he denied allegations of any wrongdoing.
The 114-page audit report made public on Wednesday covered the period January 2012 to May 2015 and said there was evidence which showed that Gossai forged the signature of the Board Chairman, Dr Gobind Ganga, which allowed the then General Manager to proceed on his remaining annual leave for 2014.
“Acting on information provided to us, we confirmed that the signature of the Board Chairman was lifted from another document. This is a gross act of forgery that should be pursued by the appropriate authorities,” it stated.
However, Gossai in a statement Thursday denied he fraudulently used the then Chairman’s signature.
“At no given time did the Secretary used, reused (“lifted”), misrepresented or disguised the signature of the former chairperson for any undertaking in his capacity on the Board, for professional or other benefits,” Gossai stated.
The report also accused Gossai of executing political directives of the former minister, an allegation he vehemently denied, noting that his role has always been professional and legal.
“The Secretary acted in full compliance within the mandate of the Guyana Gold Board Act, the management of the GGB and, where necessary through effective policy guidance from the former Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, which was always related to the Board of Directors by the former Chairperson,” he stated.
He added that all the tasks performed by him were done with full disclosure and consent of the Chairperson of the Board.
The former Policy Adviser in the Natural Resources Ministry also rubbished statements in the report that he was appointed unilaterally by Persaud, contrary to the Guyana Gold Board Act, noting that his appointment as Secretary to the GGB Board was as a result of a Cabinet Decision.
But, the Forensic Auditors have argued that the Secretary should have been recommended by the board and approved by the minister.
Gossai said the directors, during the period under review exercised their duty with “effective professionalism for the development of the organisation.
“Moreover, the Board of Directors of the Guyana Gold Board during the period of January 2012 to May 2015 developed and implemented new and improved mechanism which allowed for the enhanced management and accountability of the functioning of the organisation,” he reasoned.
He added that during this period, the board and management worked with both local and international partners to improve the overall functionality of the organisation in the areas of human resources development and improved trading and compliance related matters.
Meanwhile, Former Minister Persaud is still to respond to the allegations made against him by the auditors.
The forensic auditors said Persaud on several occasions acted contrary to the powers vested in him by the Gold Board Act, which speaks about minister having the power to give directions of a general or special character as to the policy to be followed by the Board, while approving the appointment of, and the remuneration payable to, the General Manager, Secretary and such other officers and other employees.
Among those breaches the auditors highlighted the appointment of Gossai: “In our opinion, the Act does not give the Minister the power to name or nominate the Secretary to the Board and the Minister’s action amounted to a usurpation of the Board’s authority.”
This publication emailed the former Minister on the allegations, but is still to receive a response.
Following the 11 May, 2015 General and Regional Elections Persaud migrated to the United States of America.