Govt yet to locate missing US$5M payment – Granger

Missing GT&T shares sale money

Some two weeks after it was disclosed that Chinese company, Datang Telecom Technology and Industry GTTGroup had already paid the outstanding US$5 million for shares in GTT, local authorities are still trying to trace the money.
During this week’s TV airing of The Public Interest programme, President David Granger when asked said the money is yet to be located.
“I don’t know where (the money) is, I would like to find out but the money went missing under the previous administration and it is certainly missing and that’s what Harmon’s (trip to China) was about. We’re trying to find out ourselves,” he stated.
In 2012, the Chinese company had purchase Government’s 20 per cent shares in the local telephone company at the cost of US$30 million from the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL). However, based on an agreement with the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPPC) administration, the company paid US$25 million and had two years to make the outstanding payment.
Datang failed to pay the outstanding amount within the agreed time and upon its assumption to Office, the A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) regime undertook to recoup the money, hence the Minister of State’s trip to China. During the trip, Harmon was accompanied by NICIL’s Legal Counsel, Natalia Seepersaud.
However, at the post-Cabinet briefing on April 20, Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman disclosed that the Minister of State was able to retrieve some documents which show the US$5 million was paid and as such, efforts were launched to track down to whom, how, where and when the payment was made, since no record of it was made.
While, the government spokesperson did not provide any details about the information given to it by the Chinese company, he did hint that the payment was made under the previous administration when he said “that was before May 16, 2015”.
However, the PPP/C administration had long maintained that the US$5 million was still outstanding to Guyana. In fact, when contacted shortly after Trotman’s revelation last month, former President Donald Ramotar, under whose leadership the transaction was conducted, told Guyana Times he is not aware of Datang making a payment on the outstanding amount. However, he noted that if any such payment was made it would have been paid to NICIL, with whom Datang had the transaction.
Meanwhile, at a press conference late last week, former Head of NICIL Winston Brassington stated that efforts were afoot to recoup the monies.