Jagdeo reiterates call for Int’l probe of politicians’ assets

Leaked ‘Panama Papers’

By Edward Layne

In light of the 11.5 million leaked documents, spanning some 40 years, from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, former President and current Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo has reissued an earlier call for there to be an independent international probe of local politicians, including himself, to determine the wealth both in Guyana and overseas.
Responding to questions on the leaked ‘Panama Papers’ during a news conference Thursday, Jagdeo declared that he does not have hidden wealth in shell accounts and is willing to declare his holdings, both locally and overseas, if the Government is prepared to follow suit. “No my name ain’t in no Panama report,” Jagdeo said.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo speaking at the press conference on Thursday
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo speaking at the press conference on Thursday

However, the former President restated an earlier call for the governing A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) to agree with his People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to have the International Police (Interpol) or any other credible, independent international firm, investigate the local and overseas wealth of all current and former parliamentarians.
“We are prepared to do this, ask them if they are prepared to do this; to go with us jointly and make a request of anybody, if not Interpol, an investigative firm, together to look at all of the holdings of everyone. This [proposal] goes beyond my ‘no’ answer,” he added.
He however ruled out the State Asset Recovery Unit (SARU) which he said is loaded with “political hacks” that is surreptitiously looking to damage people’s reputations.
“Let’s do this as a motion in Parliament, so the international organisation won’t treat it as partisan, they will treat it as a national thing,” he said, adding, “Not just the status of all Presidents and ex-Presidents, all Members of Parliament, their holdings abroad,” Jagdeo, who served as President for 12 years said.
He reminded that it was the APNU/AFC which had argued that they don’t know what people had stashed abroad.
The former Finance Minister recalled that he had discussions during a sitting of the National Assembly with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo in this regard, but did not elaborate on Nagamootoo’s response.
Long before the ‘Panama Papers’ leak, Jagdeo’s PPP/C had proposed a motion to have Ministers’ tax records and statements made available to the Integrity Commission, released to the public, but that was defeated by the Government which holds a one-seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly.
He said he has already declared all his assets to the Integrity Commission, but now wants those submissions to be increased to include international possessions.
“Yeah… I will declare everything local and overseas. The local money is in my Integrity Commission everything. Everything you have to declare there, you would have seen it there. Now that you have my answer, which is no, I hope that you will ask the same question of several people, including one newspaper owner,” the former President added.
Not all the data from the Panama Papers has been released, but there is mention of Guyana with one beneficiary and one shareholder connected to Guyana (by address) among the information that has been made public. The details of this person have not been published.
Jagdeo stressed that he was not the shareholder linked to Guyana nor does he have overseas hidden accounts and is ready to prove this.